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Last updated: December 14, 2023

Gas vs Electric Car Cost Calculator

Will an electric vehicle save you money?

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If you’re considering an electric vehicle, our calculator will factor in your driving habits, local cost of electricity, and car specs to help you determine whether an EV meets your needs, when you’ll break even, and how much you might save.

Expected Costs for Electric, Gas, and Hybrid Cars

Upfront costs

When deciding whether to purchase a gas or electric vehicle, one of the biggest factors is upfront costs. Typically gas cars have the lowest initial cost, electric vehicles have the highest, and hybrids fall in between.1 Costs vary widely depending on vehicle type and condition.

While electric vehicles cost more upfront, they may also qualify for federal tax credits that can lead to significant savings. Over a dozen vehicles — including the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Volkswagen ID.4 — are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. That credit, for example, brings the starting price of a Chevy Bolt from $26,500 down to $19,000. Several more vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, qualify for a $3,750 credit.

If you plan to install an at-home charging station, factor its cost into your purchase of an electric vehicle. Installation of a Level 2 charging station ranges from $500 to $1,500. You can get a federal tax credit for 30 percent of installation and hardware costs, up to $1,000.

FYI:

Financial experts recommend spending no more than 10 percent of your take-home pay on monthly car payments, and no more than 15 to 20 percent on total car expenses. Use our Vehicle Affordability Calculator to estimate how much car you can afford.

Fuel costs

Electricity costs less than gasoline, so buying an electric car will save you money on fuel over the car’s lifetime. Our Fuel Cost Calculator estimates how much you’ll spend on gas for a road trip or your daily commute.

Vehicle type Estimated average annual fuel cost Estimated lifetime fuel savings
Electric $566 to $802 $5,000 to $15,000
Gas $1,710 to $2,591 N/A
Hybrid $1,112 to $1,685 $3,000 to $10,000

As of November 2023, the average cost of gasoline in the U.S. is $3.30 per gallon.2 The average gas-powered car gets 26 miles per gallon and the average American drives 13,476 miles annually,3 which results in about $1,710 of fuel costs. However, gas prices are variable — in June 2022, prices hit a high of over $5 per gallon, which translates into $2,591 annually.

The cost of electricity is more stable, at around 12 to 17 cents per kWh nationally. You can find the average cost of electricity in your state here: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/. Using fast public charges will be more expensive than charging at home, but still significantly less expensive than gas. The average EV uses around 0.35 kWh per mile, which translates to around $565 to $800 in annual fuel costs.

Hybrids get more miles per gallon — around 35 MPG for hybrid SUVs and 45 MPG for sedans. Several popular models, such as the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, average over 50 MPG.

TIP:

You can find the estimated kWh per mile for a particular vehicle at https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml. This information is typically noted in kWh per 100 miles, so make sure to divide accordingly.

Maintenance costs

When deciding on a gas versus electric car, consider the cost of maintenance over its lifetime. Gas and hybrid cars have higher maintenance costs than electric vehicles, mainly because gas engines have more moving parts than electric engines.

According to a 2021 study by the Department of Energy, the cost of maintenance per mile is about 10 cents per mile for gas-powered cars, 9 cents for hybrids, and 6 cents for EVs.4

Vehicle type Maintenance cost per mile Estimated cost over 100,000 miles
Electric $0.061 $6,100
Gas $0.101 $10,100
Hybrid $0.094 $9,400

The biggest maintenance cost for electric vehicles and hybrids is the battery, which costs $5,000 to $20,000 to replace for EVs and $2,000 to $8,000 for hybrids. However, federal law requires manufacturers offer at least eight years or 100,000 miles for the battery warranty, and some offer ten year warranties.

Insurance costs

In addition to maintenance and fuel, insurance is an important expense to consider when deciding between an electric or gas vehicle. Electric vehicles are more expensive to replace and repair, so the cost of insuring them is higher.

The cost of insurance varies widely, and depends largely on the value of your car, chosen coverage levels, driving history, age, and location. Some vehicles will be more expensive to insure than others — for example, the average annual insurance cost for a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt is around $1,500, while a Tesla Model 3 can run you over $2,500.

Compare the average insurance costs for some of the most popular electric, gas, and hybrid cars:

Electric

Vehicle Estimated annual insurance cost
Tesla Model Y $2,614
Tesla Model 3 $2,533
Chevrolet Bolt $1,547
Volkswagen ID.4 $2,301
Ford Mustang Mach-E $1,586

Gas

Vehicle Estimated annual insurance cost
Chevrolet Silverado $1,852
Honda CR-V $1,411
Toyota RAV4 $1,588
Toyota Camry $1,436
Ford F-150 $1,541

Hybrid

Vehicle Estimated annual insurance cost
Toyota Prius $2,017
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid $1,789
Honda Accord Hybrid $1,519
Honda CR-V Hybrid $1,803
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $2,182

Summary of Expected Costs for Electric, Gas, and Hybrid

Type Upfront cost Fuel cost Maintenance cost Insurance cost
Electric Highest Lowest Lowest Highest
Gas Lowest Highest Highest Lowest
Hybrid In-between In-between In-between In between

Pros and Cons of Electric, Gas, and Hybrid Vehicles

Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles

Pros of Electric Vehicles

  • Long-term fuel and maintenance savings

  • Tax incentives offset upfront cost

  • Better for the environment

  • Quieter and smoother ride

  • Convenience of charging at home

Cons of Electric Vehicles

  • Highest upfront and insurance costs

  • Lower range before refill compared to gas

  • Charging is slower than getting gas and currently supported by less infrastructure

DID YOU KNOW?

Electric vehicle sales are on the rise in the U.S. In 2022, 10 million electric vehicles (including battery EVs and plug-in hybrids) were sold. That’s up 55 percent from 2021, and a tenfold increase from the 1 million sold in 2017.5

Pros and Cons of Gas-Powered Vehicles

Pros of Gas-Powered Vehicles

  • Lowest upfront and insurance costs

  • More available models than hybrid or electric

  • Typically more time between refuels than EVs

  • Gas stations are quicker and easier to find than charging stations

Cons of Gas-Powered Vehicles

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Vehicles

Pros of Hybrid Vehicles

  • Fuel savings compared to gas cars

  • Fewer carbon emissions

  • Engines tends to last longer than gas cars’

  • Plug-in hybrids may qualify for tax incentives

  • Great range means filling up less frequently than a gas-powered vehicle without the “range anxiety” of EVs

RELATED:

Considering trading in your gas-powered vehicle for a hybrid? Our Fuel Efficient Car Calculator will help you estimate how much you’ll save in fuel costs.

Cons of Hybrid Vehicles

  • Higher upfront and maintenance costs compared to gas

  • Not as environmentally friendly as an EV

  • Fewer tax incentives than for EVs

How to decide between an electric, gas-powered, or hybrid car

1. What are your driving habits?

The average EV gets around 250 miles per charge, so if you use mostly your car for short trips, it may be a good option. If you regularly travel longer distances, a gas or hybrid car may better suit your needs.

2. What is your budget?

An electric vehicle will be more expensive upfront, but the fuel and maintenance savings will likely put money back in your pocket in the long-term. Can you afford the electric vehicle you want with a reasonable auto loan?

In general, aim to put 20 percent down, pay off your loan in four to six years, and spend no more than 10 percent of your take-home income on monthly car payments. If buying an electric car means taking out a lengthy loan or not putting enough down, it probably isn’t worth it.

FYI:

Some lenders offer “green auto loans” at lower APRs than traditional auto loans. Shop around with three to five lenders to find the best auto loan.

3. Where do you live?

Research charging stations in your area, as well as the cost and ease of installing a home charging station if applicable. If you live in a city with plenty of opportunities to charge or can install a charging station at home, it will mitigate the hassle of charging up. On the other hand, if you live in a rural area with few charging options, a gas or hybrid car might make more sense.

Additionally, look into whether your state or city has incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle or hybrid. Many places, like California, have local rebates and tax incentives in addition to the federal tax credit.

Summary: Should I buy an EV or gas car?

Buying a reasonably-priced EV will likely save you money in the long run, but the decision to purchase one comes down to personal factors. Owning an EV will require some adjustment in habits and costs more upfront.

If you’re ready to make the plunge into owning an EV, you won’t be alone, as the ratio of EVs to gas cars is rising over time. By 2025, up to one in five new cars sold could be EVs, and by 2035 that number could rise to three in ten.6 Ultimately, replacing gas cars with electric vehicles is a key to reducing pollution and mitigating climate change.

Citations

  1. How Much Are Electric Cars? Kelley Blue Book. (2023, Jul 10).
    https://www.kbb.com/car-advice/how-much-electric-car-cost/

  2. Gas Prices. AAA. (2023, Dec 7).
    https://gasprices.aaa.com/

  3. Average Annual Miles per Driver by Age Group. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. (2022, May 31).
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm

  4. FOTW #1190, June 14, 2021: Battery-Electric Vehicles Have Lower Scheduled Maintenance Costs than Other Light-Duty Vehicles. Office of Efficiency & Renewable Energy. (2021, Jun 14).
    https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/articles/fotw-1190-june-14-2021-battery-electric-vehicles-have-lower-scheduled

  5. Trends in electric light-duty vehicles. IEA. (2023).
    https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2023/trends-in-electric-light-duty-vehicles

  6. Electric Cars Are Finding Their Next Gear. Boston Consulting Group. (2022, Jun 9).
    https://www.bcg.com/publications/2022/electric-cars-finding-next-gear