Economic Assessment of Electric-Drive Vehicle Operation in California and Other U.S. Regions

Document Date: 
Wed, 2010-12-01
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This study examines the relative economics of electric vehicle operation in the context of current electricity rates in specific utility service territories. Fourteen utility territories offering electric vehicle (EV) rates were examined, with a focus on California but including other regions of the United States. The consumer costs of EV charging were examined in comparison with gasoline price data, geographic location, and three highly variable gasoline price periods: July 2008, January 2009, and July 2009. In a switch from a conventional 23 mpg (10.2-L/100 km) vehicle to a 300 Wh/mi electric vehicle driven 10,000 mi (16,100 km) per year, the study finds that savings in fuel costs range from approximately U.S.$100 to U.S.$1,800 annually, with considerable geographic variation and with higher-end values mostly in summer 2008, when gasoline prices were relatively high. Charging off-peak instead of during peak periods saves an average of only a few hundred U.S. dollars per year, rendering the incentive to charge off-peak a relatively small one except perhaps during some summer months when the peak prices are especially high. Gasoline price variances have a larger effect, and switching from a low-fuel-economy conventional vehicle to the reference EV (compared with a switch from an already efficient vehicle) presents the highest savings level. The West and Midwest are generally the most favorable regions for EV economics when EV charging rates and gasoline prices are considered together.

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