The Washington Post’s Michael J. Coren was curious why many people in his orbit and those at certain media organizations continue to claim that refueling a gas-guzzling car is much cheaper than recharging an electric one.
In finding out if this was really true, Coren got in touch with the nonpartisan group Energy Innovation to get answers.
“The results surprised me,” he said, but thankfully, they were of the pleasant variety.
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Coren proposed two hypothetical road trips across the United States that would help to provide a picture of the costs of refueling, using prices from summer 2023.
Of course, giving a blanket answer about whether electric or gas cars are cheaper is complex, with factors such as local fuel and electricity prices, taxes, and charging availability (and type) among the many things to consider.
But while trying to apply those details to his study, he came to a broad conclusion.
“In all 50 states, it’s cheaper for the everyday American to fill up with electrons — and much cheaper in some regions such as the Pacific Northwest, with low electricity rates and high gas prices,” he said.
The biggest savings came in Washington, where electric alternatives were $80 cheaper to refuel than a standard internal combustion engine truck, while the savings compared to an SUV and a sedan were $49 and $59.
“In Washington state, with prices around $4.98 per gallon of gas, it costs about $115 to fill up an F-150 which delivers 483 miles of range,” Coren observed.
“By contrast, recharging the electric F-150 Lightning (or Rivian R1T) to cover an equivalent distance costs about $34.”
Electric vehicles offered refueling savings on at least two of three examined vehicle types in every single state, but no savings were recorded when filling up SUVs in Alabama, Mississippi, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawai‘i, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, the research found that even when taking into account electricity that would be produced by coal-powered stations, the pollution produced by electric cars was much less on a 408-mile trip than dirty-fuel-powered alternatives.
For example, a journey from San Francisco to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in a Ford F-150 would produce 459 pounds of CO2 equivalent, while the same trip in the electric Ford F-150 Lightning would produce only 117 pounds.
Tackling the same journey, a Honda CR-V would produce 333 pounds of planet-warming pollution, while the Tesla Model Y would account for only 66, and the 386 pounds created by a Toyota Camry was far higher than the 72 pounds a Chevrolet Bolt would account for.
Coren noted that refueling by Level 3 fast chargers alone would be more expensive than gasoline when making a trip from Detroit to Miami, costing $141.70 in a Toyota Camry and $168.76 in an electric Chevy Bolt.
But if using exclusively Level 2 chargers, the Bolt would provide over $100 in savings compared to its dirty-fuel counterpart — not to mention more than 1,000 pounds less of CO2 pollution.
It’s a fascinating insight that’s well worth a read, but the message is clear: Electric cars are generally much cheaper and much better for the environment than standard gasoline vehicles.
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