East Lansing research shows driving a electric is only cheaper if it's a luxury vehicle

Tesla Driving
Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 09:23:16-04

LANSING, Mich. — Patrick Anderson, Principal of the Anderson Economic Group, knows first hand what it's like to drive electric.

"That's my electric vehicle out there," said Anderson. "That's a Porsche Taycan."

As the head of a company that works closely with auto manufacturers, Anderson said he chooses to drive an electric vehicle (EV) to get a look at the future and to understand what it's like to drive an EV in the real world.

Anderson said the real world financial obstacles he encountered driving electric helped his team at the Anderson Group put together a comprehensive fueling cost study.

With data collected from 2020 and 2021, the study compares the average price of driving an EV, versus a gas powered, or Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle.

"What we've done is systematically add up four categories of costs for comparable vehicles in the same segment, for the same kind of usage, for the same kind of real world driving conditions that people face," said Anderson.

The four categories are energy, road taxes, cost of pumps/chargers, and the cost of driving to the gas station.

The Anderson Group compared these costs assuming that the vehicles are driving 12,000 purposeful miles a year and using price data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration as well as their own research.

Anderson said, "We actually took stop watches and timed the amount of time it took to fill up at a gas station, or to charge a car at a commercial station."

What did they find?

According to the study, if you're looking for an entry-priced vehicle, your only choice is to drive traditional.

If you're looking for a mid-priced vehicle, driving traditional is still cheaper, but not by too much if you're charging your electric vehicle at home.

If you're looking to buy a truck, until Fall 2022 your only choice is to drive traditional.

If you're looking to drive a luxury vehicle, it's cheaper to drive electric, especially if you're charging at home.

EV verse ICE vehicles
EV verse ICE vehicles

"So you can typically save $1 every 100 miles if you're driving a luxury EV, and if you can charge at home actually you can save $5 or more," said Anderson.

"The major finding was the cost of refueling is entirely, at least for electric vehicles, is majorly dependent on how we charge the vehicle," Allston Dsouza, a senior analyst at the Anderson Group.

Dsouza said traditional vehicles are by far still more convenient than electric.

According to the report, it takes more than three times as long to fill a mid-priced EV than an ICE vehicle.

It takes over 14 times as long to fuel a luxury EV than an ICE vehicle.

EV Time Burden
EV verse ICE Time Burden

"There's also great advantages to EVs. I mean, they're quieter. They're very quick. I find it quite a fun car to drive," said Anderson. "But it also takes a lot of time to charge."

And that's once you get to the gas or charging station.

This map from the report uses the city of Ann Arbor as an example.

High Power Stations within 5 minute radius in Ann Arbor
High Power Stations within 5 minute radius in Ann Arbor

The areas in yellow are areas where drivers are within 5 minutes of a charging station.

"So far that means, like for 90% of the of the households, even in places like metro Lansing or metro Ann Arbor, you have to take into account driving to find a fast charger," said Anderson. "And that adds some cost to you."

A quick visit to a few Lansing charging stations shows that it is common for them to be "unavailable."

"I know myself, when I drive up north, I typically have to stop multiple times," said Anderson.

The principal of the Anderson Group says the end consensus of their report is that higher gas prices have helped EVs cause, but with major auto-companies like Chrysler and General Motors pledging to go all electric soon, there needs to be public policy and infrastructure changes to make driving electric more cost-friendly and convenient.

"Thus far, so much of the EV usage is concentrated in affluent metro areas, not only in Michigan, but other places," said Anderson. "And if we're going to be successful with these, we have to make them affordable."

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