It’s pretty much been agreed that electric cars are the way of the future. With finite amounts of petroleum at our disposal (experts estimate it will be gone within the next 50 years or potentially even a lot sooner at the current rate of usage) and the rising toll of hydrocarbon pollution being felt on even the farthest reaches of the planet (goodbye, polar ice caps!) the internal combustion engine as we know it will likely become a thing of the past within most of our lifetimes. And while many automakers are slow to make the transition, many have at least started to offer a couple of eco-friendly options in the way of alternative-fuel, hybrid, or fully electric vehicles amongst their lineup of gas-guzzlers. But the truth is that consumers really decide when a product becomes desirable, and in a bid to get you, the average consumer, on board with buying electric, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) did a study to see just how much the average driver stands to save.
The UCS is an interesting and noteworthy entity in and of itself. The non-profit organization has been around for decades; incredibly, it started in 1969 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when a number of teachers and students teamed up to conduct independent research on technology and the environment as a way to offer the government, companies, and consumers ways to make the world a healthy and safe place for all of its inhabitants. Since then they have become “an alliance of more than 400,000 citizens and scientists”, according to their website. And they’re all working on behalf of our planet’s future (not to mention our future on it).
Along those lines, a recent study comparing the costs of fueling a petroleum-powered vehicle versus an electric one has yielded some interesting (but not unexpected) results. It turns out that driving an electric car is cheaper; no surprise there. But you might be shocked to learn that on average, you could save somewhere in the neighborhood of $750-$1,200 each year by making the switch. Of course, this assumes that the average vehicle gets about 27 mpg, that gas prices are $3.50 per gallon, and probably that the average driver travels about 15,000 miles each year. The range of prices apparently results from the fact that the cost of electricity varies so widely from place to place. But one thing is certain: it’s a lot less expensive than gasoline. And if your car gets lower miles per gallon, or gas prices in your area tend to be higher, you could end up saving a lot more year upon year.
It may not be quite enough to justify skipping the trip to your Mercedes-Benz or BMW dealer this year in favor of a date with a Fisker or Tesla representative, although if you’re looking to save money you wouldn’t go for one of these high-priced electric beauties anyway. However, anyone who wants to save on the cost of a new car as well as gas should keep in mind that many automakers now provide options for plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles, both of which still come with a variety of government incentives (both federal and state, in some cases). This could make purchasing a greener vehicle all the more appealing from a financial standpoint.
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