Free ride: Rising oil prices boost electric cars’ affordability
One of the biggest knocks against electric cars, other than their current range, is the rather steep upfront cost due to the price of the battery.
Of course, you’re essentially pre-paying much of your fuel costs for the life of the car. But that’s a hard message to get across to a potential buyer contemplating forking over $41,000 for a Chevrolet Volt or $33,000 for a Nissan Leaf before state and federal incentives.
However, rising gasoline prices — now topping $4 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area — may finally drive the message home that electric cars, despite the expense of the first generation mass production models, are a hedge against an uncertain fuel future. (Not to mention environmental catastrophe.)
In a new report on electric cars and the smart grid, GTM Research includes a handy chart listing average gasoline prices (as of Jan. 2011) in the United States and Europe, along with the price of electricity and the savings from trading in a gas-guzzler for an electron-sipper.
In the U.S., drivers of battery-powered rides can save the equivalent of $2.05 a gallon, assuming gas prices of $3.25 a gallon and electricity rates of 12 cents a kilowatt-hour. Of course, gas and power prices in the U.S. vary dramatically from state to state. In California, both are among the highest in the land. But so are subsidies for solar panels, which can be used to charge your car, a further hedge against peak oil.