There might be individuals that would probably believe that driving an EV means that they won’t have to pay to charge their vehicle. It’s mostly “free” because they are charging at home. Just because you are charging at home, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically free, and you’ll have an enormous cash flow month after month. You might only see something like that if plan to use solar that feeds to a battery; if the sun isn’t your power source, you’re still going to have to pay to fuel it up, you just won’t be spending that money on gasoline. We are going to dig deeper into the operational cost of both an Internal Combustion Engine and an Electric Vehicle.

As I mentioned before, I have a 2007 Honda Civic. I finished paying this car about 4 years after I got the car. My wife & I acquired a 2008 Ford Fusion recently. The only thing I had to pay for is gas, maintenance, and repairs. I bought my Civic primarily because it was stylish and fuel efficient, and it was also relatively inexpensive compared to other cars. I know owning a Tesla is definitely more expensive than my Civic. Can the difference in gas make up the difference?

A couple of years ago, I bought the Automatic App for my Civic to track my mileage. It gave me a rough estimate of my cost and the miles per gallon. In October, I decided to buy the Automatic Pro for both my Civic and the Fusion. Automatic Pro could track your location and upload it to Automatic’s dashboard without it being connected to my phone. The new version also allowed me to monitor each of my fill-ups at the gas station, including the cost per gallon and how many gallons I needed to fill up my tank. Through Automatic’s online dashboard, I can export the data for how many miles I’ve driven. This gives me the average miles per gallon for each of my cars.

I know what you are thinking: why not just use the MPG that’s on the sticker of the car? Those numbers don’t represent the actual MPG of the vehicle in real life. Lots of variables come into play, from road conditions, tires, the quality gas used, or even the driver. So I wanted to compare my MPGs with the actual data. Also, there’s the obvious comparison issue that an EV doesn’t have a gas tank. The EPA provides an MPGe (MPG equivalent), but it’s really an estimate. In case you are wondering the Model 3 gets a 126 MPGe, 131 MPGe in the city and 120 MPGe on the highway. The 2007 Civic gets 30 MPG in the city & 40 MPG on the highway. The 2008 Ford Fusion gets 20 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway.

I exported my GPS data from Automatic’s website, and along with my fuel receipts, I can predict how much it would cost for me to fill up my cost. I have about 250 days of data with both cars. As for the cost estimates for the Model 3, I’m using a couple of points for the price. One is if I only use the Tesla Supercharger in California. On their site, it’s listed as $0.26 per kWh. The other data point is if just use one of the private chargers, like ChargePoint. Around my house, it’s about $1.00 per kWh. Finally, the last option is what I think most people would fall under, that’s charging at home. Where I live, San Diego Gas & Electric has a rate of $0.22 per kWh at super off-peak (midnight – 6am on the weekdays & midnight – 2pm on the weekends & holidays).

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Mind you, the numbers on the Model 3 are just estimated value and doesn’t reflect real driving situations. It’s merely just to give an idea on extremes on what it may cost. What the number does show us is that switching to EV doesn’t mean that everything is free. Very few people have jobs or residential services that are willing to pay for their electricity. Instead of paying for gas, you are paying for your car’s charge, which might be harder to calculate. So the switch will not magically pay for the car itself. You will notice a significant difference, however. You’ll eventually see a difference in the long run.