These Electrified Vehicle Types Can Save The Most In Running Costs, Data Shows

It’s widely known that full-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that can run for up to 40 miles or more solely on battery power can save their owners some cash over comparable gas-only models with home charging, but just how much a given driver will pocket can vary wildly based on a number of factors.

The most obvious is the local cost of electricity vs. petroleum. According to the AAA, gas prices are highest in the nation in California, where motorists pay an average $4.80 per gallon for regular grade fuel and $5.20 for premium, while those in Mississippi are charged an average $2.93/$3.72. The national average, by the way, stands at $3.50 per gallon for regular and $4.30 for premium. At that, prices can be higher or lower, sometimes significantly, depending on what local gas stations charge due to location, competition, demand and such.

Electricity likewise costs more in some parts of the country than others. The cheapest grid in the nation to tap can be found in Nebraska, where Cornhuskers pay an average $0.098 per kilowatt (kWh), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. At the other end of the ledger it’s $0.449 per kWh in Hawaii. And that’s for home charging; public charging, however, can be a much costlier (and less reliable) option.

While few of us would be willing to uproot and move to another part of the country to save on energy costs, a study conducted by Argonne National Laboratory determined that, all else being equal, some vehicle types will show more of a bottom-line boost in this regard than others. Argonne’s data shows that most electrified vehicle types will see average energy cost savings of up to 50%. But perhaps contrary to what most of us might guess, the heftiest electric and plug-in hybrid pickup trucks and SUVs were found to be the biggest money-savers, compared to their ICE counterparts.

EV pickups, on average, realize an average $0.14 savings per mile, while plug-in haulers cost an average $0.07 less per mile to run. It’s an average $0.11 savings per mile for pickups and $0.05 for large SUVs, $0.10 per mile for electric cars and $0.04 for plug-in hybrids, $0.08/$0.04 for crossovers and $0.07 for EV sports cars, with zero net savings for their plug-in variants.

According to the EPA’s fueleconomy.com site, buying a Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup will save the average owner $1,750 per year over either a gas-only model with the 3.7-liter turbo V6 or the 5.0-liter V8.

For those keeping score, below are the 10 states in which Argonne determined residents can save the most money per mile by trading in their gas-only vehicles for full-electric models (stats were not given for plug-in hybrids). Those living in the cheapest state in this regard, Idaho, have the potential to save $2,040 per year in fuel costs if driven for 12,000 annual miles:

  1. Idaho: $0.17 per mile
  2. Washington: $0.16 per mile
  3. Oregon: $0.14 per mile
  4. Wyoming: $0.14 per mile
  5. South Dakota: $0.14 per mile
  6. Nebraska: $0.13 per mile
  7. West Virginia: $0.13 per mile
  8. Montana: $0.13 per mile
  9. North Dakota: $0.13 per mile
  10. Nevada: $0.12 per mile

Fortunately, hard-core car shoppers who want to take a deeper dive into comparing EV and plug-in energy savings in their specific Zip Codes, based on local per-gallon and kWh costs have a handy online tool at their disposal, courtesy of Energy.gov via Argonne-supplied data. A user enters his or her state or Zip Code and the vehicle type, and the calculator will provide average local per-mile cost comparisons between typical ICE, EV and plug-in hybrid models.

Of note, while swapping an ICE vehicle for a plug-in hybrid indeed has the potential to save an owner money on running costs, a study conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation determined this isn’t always the case. Why? It’s because many owners simply neglect to charge their rides in the first place. We’d guess this is due to either laziness or complacency that the hybrid powertrain will get them where they need to go without having to rely in the grid. PHEV owners were found to drive 25-65% fewer miles on electricity than the vehicles are otherwise capable and burn 42-67% more energy than their EPA estimates.

And there’s the fact that any saving realized will differ not only based on local energy costs and a specific vehicle’s energy consumption, but on where, when and how a given model is driven. For starters, EVs and plug-in hybrids while running solely on battery power are less efficient running at highway speeds than they are around town, and consume battery power faster in extreme temperatures; this can be anywhere from 25 to 40 percent less in cold weather with the heater running. Likewise an electric truck or SUV will go through kilowatts at a considerably quicker rate when towing a boat or trailer. And the state-of-charge gauge reading tends to drop precipitously whenever drivers push the accelerator pedal to the floor to exploit an EV’s instant torque for rocket-like launches.

As they say, your mileage may vary.

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