2014-11-13

As Oil Prices Swing, The Cost Of Charging An EV Stays The Same

You’ve heard of "pain at the pump," but never of "pain at the socket."

You’ve probably been told countless times that electric vehicles are cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered cars. Sure, there are still plenty of drawbacks to EVs—they don’t yet have a range like gasoline-powered vehicles, they take longer to charge up, and their fuel source isn’t always clean, especially in places where the power grid relies mostly on coal.

But there is still one major advantage: electricity prices stay relatively stable compared to oil prices, which are notoriously volatile. In the graph below (courtesy of Cleantechnica), we can see how oil prices have waxed and waned over the years due to a variety of outside factors—recessions, the Asian financial crisis, Middle East revolutions—while electricity prices have remained predictable.

Granted, this may not be enough to convince anyone looking for a budget vehicle that a plug-in hybrid or EV makes sense—after all, there are a lot more cheap, used gasoline-powered vehicles on the market than EVs. But if history is a guide, oil prices are unlikely to stabilize anytime soon. And when we hit the EV acceptance tipping point (estimated at $5 per gallon of gas) drivers may start to rethink their next vehicle purchase.

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2 Comments

  • Joe

    Once more drivers jump on the EV bandwagon I predict electric prices will rise. Execs will use the "supply and demand" excuse then we'll run into the same issues. While our dependency and cost for fuel will be lowered, our cost for everyday electric will be higher which could outweigh the fuel costs.

  • Suhail Amshan

    only until it goes mainstream (even if consequences are left to the next generation to deal with), and electricity becames the next industrialised/traded/speculated thing that drives prices up north as starters and brings along unpredictability as it matures. i'd rather advocate revisiting the fundamentals and where the model started going wrong ..and not contribute towards creation of another industrialised unsustainable industry