Our EVs Consumption and Fuel Cost: Year-End Report

By Paul Gipe

Toward the end of October we passed the one-year mark with our 2015 Nissan Leaf, a battery-powered Electric Vehicle (EV). It was time to tally it’s operating cost.

We now know how much electricity we consumed driving an EV and how much that cost. Of course, the fuel cost is not the only cost of driving a car—any car, but it’s a large part.

I work at home, so my daily commute is from the kitchen to the office. Consequently, we don’t drive as much as the typical American (13,000 miles per year). While we took the Prius out for a few long-distance trips, such as to Death Valley, we mostly drove the EV. It’s become our car of choice largely because it’s so quiet, and it’s fun to drive.

We drove the Leaf 7,000 miles last year and used approximately 1,500 kWh. That’s slightly less than $250 for fuel at a cost of $0.17 per kWh here in Bakersfield.

As noted in a previous post, we’ve driven the car for one year and have taken the car in only for its annual battery examination—at no charge. There’s been zero maintenance cost so far. Of course, it’s a brand new car and one would expect that there wouldn’t be any problems requiring maintenance. Still, we didn’t need to take it in for an oil change.

We remodeled 15 years ago and insulated the walls and put in new windows. We also bought a new refrigerator. According to the report card Pacific Gas & Electric sends us every few months, we’re one of the most energy efficient households in our area—within the top 20%.

Since the remodel, we consume about 3,500 kWh per year, including air conditioning in the summer. That’s 60% of our previous consumption and that of the average California home of 6,500 kWh per year.

With the addition of the EV, our annual consumption of 5,000 kWh per year still falls well below the average consumption in California.

Our average efficiency driving the Leaf, relative to the electricity delivered to the car, is about 3.8 miles per kWh. This isn’t the same as the efficiency in miles per kWh relative to the energy stored in the traction battery. The former determines what we have to pay the utility. The latter determines how far we can drive on a charge.

At our cost of electricity and with our driving style, the Nissan Leaf costs us $0.04 per mile. This is about two-thirds the cost for fuel of a Prius getting 50 mpg or one-third the cost for fuel of a conventional car getting 25 mpg with gasoline at $3.00 per gallon.