US gas prices are at their highest levels ever. During the week of March 14, national averages peaked at $4.32 per gallon, double the average in 2020, thanks to an unexpected surge in consumer demand for gasoline last year and supply shocks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As a result, it’s now three times more expensive to fill a combustion engine car’s gas tank than it is to charge an electric car at home, according to a March 14 report from the Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA), an industry group that represents electric car manufacturers. The group compared the price per mile to fuel the most popular gas-powered pickup truck, SUV, and sedan in the US to similar electric vehicles, using energy price data from the US Energy Information Administration and gas price data from AAA.
They found that electric vehicles were three to five times cheaper to drive than comparable combustion engine cars. In some states where gas prices are particularly high or electricity prices are particularly low—including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia—electric cars could be six times cheaper to drive.
Volatile oil and stable electricity
“It’s not only that electric vehicles are cheaper to operate—and those numbers do pencil out—but electricity costs are also much more consistent than gas prices,” said Ben Prochazka, executive director of the Electrification Coalition.
Unlike fossil fuels, the cost of residential electricity has stayed consistent, with the national average hovering between 12 and 14 cents per kilowatt-hour. Electricity prices aren’t as volatile because the US has many sources of electric power, including wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear plants, and domestic oil and gas drilling, according to Sara Baldwin, director of electrification policy at the Energy Innovation think tank. “Rather than having all your eggs in one basket, like you do with the gasoline market, you have multiple eggs in multiple baskets,” she said.
Rising gas prices push Americans to consider buying electric cars
Rising gas prices could push more Americans to consider buying an electric car. A third of Americans told Gallup pollsters they would consider making the switch if prices keep going up. But supply chain constraints have limited the number of electric cars on the market, which limits the prospects for an immediate surge in sales.
Electric car prices have been falling as the cost of manufacturing batteries goes down. Over the next six years, the International Council on Clean Transportation estimates that electric cars will be as cheap to buy as gas-powered cars in every category—and will remain cheaper to refuel and maintain.