Let's face it, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating (MPGe) is a good estimate, but an estimate nonetheless. Battery-powered electric cars don't burn gasoline, so a gasoline-based rating is always going to be a theoretical exercise in energy conversion.
Still, the EPA needs some way to compare electric, hybrid, and gasoline-burning vehicles. Such ratings benefit government agencies and auto companies, as well as consumers who would otherwise struggle to compare kilowatt-hours to gallons consumed. The EPA reaches its hybrid and electric vehicle figures by running test cycles, determining how many kilowatt-hours are burned, converting it to BTU/mile, and then dividing that number by the BTUs in a gallon of gasoline. The result is the MPGe figure, which will undoubtedly be a source of technical arguments for years to come.
Click on the image below to see 12 of the top fuel-efficient vehicles, as determined by the MPGe rating system.
Ford Transit Connect EV -- 62 MPGe (combined city + highway): Ford's Transit Connect is a utility van with a top speed of 75 mph and an all-electric driving range of 80 miles. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
One more thing to add to the equation, g-whiz, is the maintenance adder. Most people have a fairly good ide what it takes to maintain a conventational car and when various short-lived product will fail. However, with the EVs you are dealing with a high-cost battery with an expected life shorter than that of the auto itself. Do you have to buy a new battery? Can you sell the old one at a scrap yard so they can remove / resell the components and metals, or do you have to pay a recycler?
You make a lot of good points, Naperlou. Yes, the real hogs are the big vehicles. That's why it's good to see Ford's electric cargo van in there. And, yes, the ratings do leave room for improvement. Right now, the ratings are an exercise in physics and math. Using the EPA's methodology three years ago, Nissan was able to make the claim that its Leaf got 367 mpg and Chevy said the Volt was at 230 mpg. Then the EPA sat down and recalculated it, and the numbers settled in around 100 mpg. What it proves is that mpg ratings of electric cars is still an inexact science. See the link below for more info.
I also agree, I want to know how much it will add to my electricity bill each month to plug-in a car. The manufacturers only seem to talk about the gasoline fuel economy...not the higher electric bill.
With the much higher cost of hybrid and electric cars, and my low miles driven per year (just 6K), I just purchased a new conventional gasoline-powered economy car. Now it seems like I hardly use any gas, and I'm glad I didn't add to my already super-low monthly electricity bill ($60/month).
My home does not have any more room on the electrical panel for more circuits, so upgrading the panel would be an additional cost. And there is the cost of adding a dedicated 240 volt outlet for charging a plug-in car. No thanks for now.
@rjnerd: If you'r needing a vehicle to carry stuff, have you looked at the Prius V? It seems like they're billing at as a Prius for the light-duty hauler set. I have a scenic painter in the family and we are always transporting stepladders, little folding scaffolds and painting supplies and our aging Volvo V70 wagon is slowly falling apart. I plan on test driving a Prius V as soon as I get a free weekend. It won't carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood but then I have friends with pickups for that.
In addition to a cost per mile formula (which would vary dramatically geographically), I'd like to see the cost of the vehicle rolled into the equation. Since the EVs are 3 to 4 times the cost of their comparable internal combustion engine counterpart, total cost of ownership is an important metric. I may save $100/month on fuel/energy, but if my loan payments are $300/month more, does the EV make sense when I'm already scraping by financially? Then there is the inevitable battery replacement at year 5 to 7. How does that enter into the equation?
Agreed. I would like to get the data for expected electric and fuel consumption based on average miles driven daily with the assumption that the vehicle can be recharged nightly. I can easily find the current fuel and electricity costs and do the math.
For those like myself with a longer (50 mi each way) commute, it is reasonale to assume that the entire round trip might not be completed running 100% electric. So having a single MPGe rating seems a bit simplistic.
@Nadine: It is pretty impressive how Ford has turned around its fortunes and really shifted so much emphasis to EV development. Giving consumers choice is definitely a smart strategy, but obviously requires some pretty deep R&D pockets.
It's nice to see that there is such a broad range of vehicles and technologies available. There may not be a perfect solution available yet, but with all those different manufacturers and product selections there is clearly a great deal of engineering effort.
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