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What’s the Cost to Own and Operate EVs on Maui?

July 18, 2013
Steve Campbell - Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance Project Coordinator , Maui Weekly

Residents who think electric vehicles (EV) are out of their price range are in for a pleasant surprise. Plug-in EVs are not only cleaner than their gasoline equivalents, but also cheaper to own.

On Maui, gasoline prices fluctuate between expensive and outrageous. Gasoline prices are volatile because problems anywhere in the massive global supply chain can drastically increase prices. Currently, you can expect to pay about $4.50 a gallon.

The average residential electricity rates, on the other hand, are more stable and have remained at 39 cents per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the past few years.

Article Photos

EV In Paradise
Steve Campbell
Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance Project Coordinator

Cost to Own

When purchasing a new car, EVs are often very cost competitive. The federal government provides a tax incentive for the purchase of EVs depending on the size of the vehicle's battery.

The Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt both qualify for a $7,500 tax credit, and the Toyota Plug-in Prius qualifies for a $2,500 tax credit.

After receiving the tax credit, the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of a Nissan LEAF is $24,320--similarly priced to the Subaru Outback 2.5i at $25,795.

When leasing an EV, the lessee gives the dealership permission to fill out the necessary federal tax forms and they pass the savings on to the monthly lease price upfront.

Cost to Operate

The easiest way to compare what it costs to operate an EV versus a gas-powered car is cost-per-mile. For example, a 2013 Nissan LEAF averages 12 cents per mile, while a 2013 Subaru Outback averages 17 cents per mile.

To get the cost-per-mile for an EV, multiply your household electricity rate by the EV battery size, then divide by the range (example: 39 cents per kWh times 24kWh, divided by 80 miles, equals 12 cents per mile).

To get the cost-per-mile on a gas powered car, multiple the cost per gallon of gas by the tank size, then divide by the range (example: $4.50 per gallon times 18.5 gallons, divided by 499 miles equals 17 cents per mile.

If you drive 1,000 miles a month, you would be paying $60 less to charge compared to filling up your gas tank. At 12,000 miles per year (a typical lease contract) you would pay $600 less to charge up instead of refueling with gas.

Another aspect that makes driving an EV cheaper to operate is its reduced maintenance costs. Since EVs do not use oil, say goodbye to oil changes every few thousand miles. EV motors are also much more efficient and simpler than gas-powered engines, reducing costs at the repair shop.

Petroleum/Plug-in Parity

On Maui, cost-to-operate parity comes when gas-powered cars achieve 38 miles per gallon or higher, but remember, you are still producing the harmful tailpipe emissions that electric cars don't.



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