DOE Tool Compares Gasoline to Electricity Costs

If you've ever wondered how much it would cost to drive to work using electricity as a fuel, the US Department of Energy has an answer for you.

Charles Murray

June 20, 2013

2 Min Read
DOE Tool Compares Gasoline to Electricity Costs

If you've ever wondered how much it would cost to drive to work using electricity as a fuel, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has an answer for you.

A new tool called an eGallon calculator tells you how much it costs you to drive an electric vehicle the same distance that you could go on a gallon of gas in a similar car. The unveiling of the new calculator is part of an effort by the DOE and the Obama Administration to get more drivers to consider electricity as a fuel.

The fuel for a vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf costs, on average, about one-third that of a similar gasoline-burning car.
(Source: Nissan)

"Because electricity prices are a little different state to state, our eGallon tool shows how much an eGallon costs in your state, and compares it to the cost of gasoline," the DOE website explains. "As you can see, on average, fueling your car with gasoline costs roughly three times more than fueling with electricity."

The website also provides a graph comparing the volatility of gasoline prices versus those of electricity. Predictably, gasoline prices on the graph are far more erratic.

The tool also shows that states vary dramatically in terms of the cost differences. In Idaho, for example, the cost of a gallon of gasoline is 4.4 times higher than that of an eGallon. In contrast, the state of Hawaii shows virtually no difference at 1.01. The national average is currently 3.2, with an eGallon running at $1.14.

The unveiling of the calculator is part of an effort to boost consumer interest in electric vehicles. A study by Pike Research earlier this year predicted that less than 1 percent of vehicles would be pure electric by 2020.

In determining the cost difference, the website does not factor in the higher initial costs of electric vehicles. A Ford Focus Electric, for example, costs approximately $20,000 more than a gasoline-burning Focus, and a Chevy Volt costs at least $15,000 more than a gasoline-burning Chevy Cruze, before incentives. The website also does not factor in the cost of home charger installation or battery replacement.

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About the Author(s)

Charles Murray

Charles Murray is a former Design News editor and author of the book, Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car, published by Purdue University Press. He previously served as a DN editor from 1987 to 2000, then returned to the magazine as a senior editor in 2005. A former editor with Semiconductor International and later with EE Times, he has followed the auto industry’s adoption of electric vehicle technology since 1988 and has written extensively about embedded processing and medical electronics. He was a winner of the Jesse H. Neal Award for his story, “The Making of a Medical Miracle,” about implantable defibrillators. He is also the author of the book, The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer, published by John Wiley & Sons in 1997. Murray’s electronics coverage has frequently appeared in the Chicago Tribune and in Popular Science. He holds a BS in engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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