Study Calculates EVs Have Higher 'Real World Refueling Cost' Than Gas Vehicles

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Study Calculates EVs Have Higher 'Real World Refueling Cost' Than Gas Vehicles​

But read the fine print, as the study makes some assumptions and some scary claims about electric cars.
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BY SEBASTIAN BLANCO
OCT 25, 2021
power supply box in an electric vehicle charging station at a parking lot

EXTREME MEDIAGETTY IMAGES
  • If you've been paying attention to the development of electric vehicles long enough, you know that there are endless factors when calculating just how clean or dirty or cheap or expensive they are.
  • To give buyers an estimate, the Anderson Economic Group has put out a paper trying to figure out the real-world cost, in time and money, of making the switch from gas to electric.
  • We took a closer look at their conclusions and the methods they used to arrive at them.
The latest "Electric vehicles are scary!" study is out, and this one is a doozy. A new paper from the economic consulting firm Anderson Economic Group (AEG) does some novel things as it tries to comprehend the full spectrum of costs associated with making the shift away from a gas-powered vehicle to an EV.
For example, based on gas prices in Michigan, where AEG is based, the study says the "direct monetary cost to drive 100 miles in an internal-combustion (ICE) vehicle is between $8 and $12, and in an EV is between $12 and $15." That sounds alarming, and the results show that in all of their three scenarios, it costs more to refuel using electricity than gasoline.
But take a closer look at Table 2, and you'll see that three types of gas-powered cars are listed: entry, mid-priced, and luxury. For the EVs, there are also three columns, but they include one mid-priced and two luxury EVs (one that's "mostly" charged at home, and one that's more often charged at a public charger).
aeg study on ev costs

ANDERSON ECONOMIC GROUP
More important is noting that t
More important is noting that the study assumes odd habits for an EV driver who "mostly" recharges at home. How odd? The study assumes that it takes a whopping 5 minutes to plug and unplug an EV using an installed home charger. This feels way too long, but if we accept their time and use their assumption of 25 charges a month, we can see how they calculate that charging at home eats up 2.1 hours of time a month. But the paper doesn't use that time figure for the home charging example. Instead, it also assumes people with home chargers actually conduct 40 percent of their charges at a public, commercial station. This, then, allows the study to claim that they spend 4.5 hours a month charging their car.

At-Home vs. Away-from-Home Charging​

Being able to charge at home is key to the ownership-cost equation, and we would expect that the charging ratio of many EV owners is more like 90/10 percent in favor of at-home charging. Over the past two years, our long-term Tesla Model 3 is running at a 55/45 percent split in favor of at-home charging, and we would expect our figures to be on the high side of commercial charging as ours is constantly driven by people without a 240-volt hookup at home and also going on long trips.

Here's another example of the study's methodology. The paper makes the case that charging an EV takes longer than an internal-combustion-engine vehicle. This is true for anyone who can't charge at home—and it is undeniably a real issue—but then, in order to estimate the cost of the extra time it takes an EV driver, the authors assume two rates: a $9.65/hour minimum wage as well as an annual salary of $70,000. According to the Social Security Administration, though, the national average wage index for 2020 was just over $55,000. ZipRecruiter says the average annual pay for a national in the United States is just over $74,000 a year, but also says that the "average pay range . . . varies greatly (by as much as $52,500)."

In any case, by using the higher estimated wage, the study authors are able to show that EVs "cost" a scary amount in lost time because they assume that each minute of time it takes to charge is worth more money than if they had used a lower annual salary.

Then let's look at how the study authors deal with "free" public chargers. They admit that these options exist, but then say that they "recognize that ['free' chargers] involve a cost that must be paid, and which may be embedded in property taxes, tuition, consumer prices, or investor burdens." Their solution? They simply "price [the free chargers] using commercial rates." Well, isn't that convenient? And you can probably guess how they deal with the various free charging bundles that some automakers offer with the purchase of a new EV. That's right. Instead of counting it as zero cost, they price it like other commercial rates.

Consumption vs. Efficiency​

There's more. While the paper mentions that "EV buyers typically receive a Level 1 charger along with their auto purchase," they still include a $600 fee to buy one in their tally of costs. They also make another gaffe when calculating how much energy is needed for each vehicle. Although they cite our piece on charging losses, they apparently forgot to read the one on consumption versus efficiency, because they use EPA combined efficiency figures in their calculations—those already include charging losses—and then add another factor of 88 percent to account for charging losses. Unwinding the double counting lowers the cost figures by more than a dollar a piece to between $11.72 and $12.97. And if you instead assume home charging in a 90/10-percent split, the cost of the luxury EV drops to $10.50 per 100 miles, handily beating the luxury gas-powered example. As we have also pointed out, the percentage of commercial charging makes all the difference, as our Model 3 is no cheaper to fuel than our long-term BMW M340i when always charging at the far more expensive public chargers.

The authors admit that what they've created here is not exactly a scientific study, noting that they include data from EV drivers "posted on forums for Taycan and Tesla drivers; Reddit; and applications serving EV drivers such as PlugShare and ChargePoint." In other words, all of the squeaky wheels who went to post a complaint got the grease here, while all of the people who had uneventful charging sessions—and thus didn't post—were ignored.
Perhaps most convenient, though, is how the Anderson Economic Group's paper ignores any mention of emissions or climate change. Say what you want about this figure being difficult to calculate, but it feels disingenuous not to at least address the topic.
And it's not like no one has tried to calculate the different emissions between ICE vehicles and EVs. Polestar's recent life-cycle analysis comes to mind.

To be fair, completely seamless EV charging remains a pipe dream for most people. Changing the world's transportation infrastructure is taking a long time, and it's messy. The examples that the paper cites about broken or otherwise non-working charging stations are a real thing. The paper can make a good case that for people who aren't able to charge at home, EVs present hassles that gas vehicles don't. The "deadhead miles" when you have to go out of your way to find a charging station can be a pain—and should be kept in mind.

Bottom Line: Do the Math Yourself​

The best thing to do, if you're interested in learning about the real-world charging and driving costs of driving an EV, is to find an online calculator by a reputable source—some utilities offer them to their clients—and input your own information. It's good to read this paper, too, to see how some people will frame the debate. The auto industry absolutely needs to keep having honest discussions about how challenging it can be for some drivers to charge their electric vehicles.
 

RGM

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Cost my wife about 20 bucks to go 450km on her ev
 

sledneck__11

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Didnt that one guy blow up his tesla after finding out how much the batteries were to cost lol was on the news a while back
 

RGM

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Recalculate after the batteries are replaced…??
The same ICE version gets 8.2l/100 km. If you put 400,000KM on you have spent 40,000 in gas if it is 1.50/L. You could just buy a whole new EV for that price and if it goes to 2 bucks/liter get a new Ford 150EV
 

4extreme

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Not sure if people will get this reference, but went to McD's for lunch today. Here's what was left over. EV car on the left and gas powered on the right. All everyone sees is the end product. The food here. How much energy was put into making each side. I'm not saying I'm all for pollution but sometimes plastic maybe saving the planet more than the paper. We just have to find a better way to reuse it. Same as EV cars have a place in this world but it's not the only solution.
 

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jhurkot

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Not sure if people will get this reference, but went to McD's for lunch today. Here's what was left over. EV car on the left and gas powered on the right. All everyone sees is the end product. The food here. How much energy was put into making each side. I'm not saying I'm all for pollution but sometimes plastic maybe saving the planet more than the paper. We just have to find a better way to reuse it. Same as EV cars have a place in this world but it's not the only solution.

I made a pile of garbage on the table and that explains why EVs are bad.
 

4extreme

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I made a pile of garbage on the table and that explains why EVs are bad.
I knew some wouldn't get it. the point was all some people see is the end result of what ever product is being pushed. Some people don`t want to look deeper into what goes into making these products( in this case we are talking about EV`s). there is a more environmental impact to make an electric vehicle than a ICE vehicle. If you read my last post I said EV`s do have a place, IMO that would be big city driving. So transitioning from EV`s to other products, we have to stop and look at the mess being made to save the planet. How long do you think we can keep producing paper products before we start complaining that we are distorting the forest of the world, back to you jhurkot...

PS: I did clean up my garbage, I was just amazed at how much paper was used for a burger fries and drink.
 

lilduke

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Would it be better if it was wrapped in plastic?

Maybe they should just hand you the burger without the box and make you bring a cup from home for the pop 🤣
 

jhurkot

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I knew some wouldn't get it. the point was all some people see is the end result of what ever product is being pushed. Some people don`t want to look deeper into what goes into making these products( in this case we are talking about EV`s). there is a more environmental impact to make an electric vehicle than a ICE vehicle. If you read my last post I said EV`s do have a place, IMO that would be big city driving. So transitioning from EV`s to other products, we have to stop and look at the mess being made to save the planet. How long do you think we can keep producing paper products before we start complaining that we are distorting the forest of the world, back to you jhurkot...

PS: I did clean up my garbage, I was just amazed at how much paper was used for a burger fries and drink.

Try reading this 94 page PDF…


If you don’t have time to read something that long, here is a summary…

 

Cyle

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Thing about EV and anything else "net zero" it's all about the end product looking good and not polluting. You can have a mansion and in the front show a few solar panels, but in the back it's a coal powerplant actually powering it, but it looks good so it's perfectly fine. You can have "net zero" homes without gas into them, but never mind the gas going into the station heating the water to heat the homes because it doesn't count. You have to look at how the product was made, how the power was made EVERYTHING to actually show if it's a better option and if you don't do that the whole better for the environment claim is bogus. The fact of it being cheaper to charge or showing a charging station "powered by water" it might as well say "idiot EV owners getting scammed". It doesn't matter if the grid is getting over taxed by EV and need to start producing power by dirty means, if the EV charging is done by clean power then it's clean! Fawk people are stupid.
 

jhurkot

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Thing about EV and anything else "net zero" it's all about the end product looking good and not polluting. You can have a mansion and in the front show a few solar panels, but in the back it's a coal powerplant actually powering it, but it looks good so it's perfectly fine. You can have "net zero" homes without gas into them, but never mind the gas going into the station heating the water to heat the homes because it doesn't count. You have to look at how the product was made, how the power was made EVERYTHING to actually show if it's a better option and if you don't do that the whole better for the environment claim is bogus. The fact of it being cheaper to charge or showing a charging station "powered by water" it might as well say "idiot EV owners getting scammed". It doesn't matter if the grid is getting over taxed by EV and need to start producing power by dirty means, if the EV charging is done by clean power then it's clean! Fawk people are stupid.

IMG_1010.jpg
 

ABMax24

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Thing about EV and anything else "net zero" it's all about the end product looking good and not polluting. You can have a mansion and in the front show a few solar panels, but in the back it's a coal powerplant actually powering it, but it looks good so it's perfectly fine. You can have "net zero" homes without gas into them, but never mind the gas going into the station heating the water to heat the homes because it doesn't count. You have to look at how the product was made, how the power was made EVERYTHING to actually show if it's a better option and if you don't do that the whole better for the environment claim is bogus. The fact of it being cheaper to charge or showing a charging station "powered by water" it might as well say "idiot EV owners getting scammed". It doesn't matter if the grid is getting over taxed by EV and need to start producing power by dirty means, if the EV charging is done by clean power then it's clean! Fawk people are stupid.

Oil and gas doesn't come free either, it takes a huge amount of energy to run the compressors, pumps, boilers, dehydrators, distillation towers, hydro-treaters, crackers, cokers, etc before that product ever reaches the end consumer.

How about the coal to make the millions of tons of steel used to build these facilities? The millions of liters of diesel burned to haul condensate, oil or produced water. Or even to truck the refined gasoline and diesel to fuel stations.

Emissions from ICE cars aren't solely those that come out the tailpipe either.
 
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