Gas versus electric: the final showdown

I wouldn’t have believed it until I heard it, and then I heard it and it made me believe it less? Wait, what? Image source: https://www.slideshare.net/brianfit/omg-the-backfire-effect-how-do-we-win-when-facts-dont-work
  1. 2018 Toyota RAV4 — a compact SUV which received a 7.7/10 by USNWR, ranked #13 in Compact SUVs.
  2. 2018 Nissan Rogue — a compact SUV which received a 7.9/10 by USNWR, which ranked it #11 in Compact SUVs
  3. 2018 Toyota Camry — the #1 Midsize Car, rated 9.4/10 by USNWR
  4. 2018 Honda CRV — the #1 Compact SUV, with a rating of 8.9/10 by USNWR
  5. 2018 Honda Civic — the #1 Compact Car, with a rating of 8.8/10 by USNWR, and a perennial favorite model in the U.S.
Figure 1: this table shows a fact which some may view with shock — fuel costs for a variety of vehicles are roughly proportional to the sticker price over the life of a car. For the Civic, they’re even higher. (Note the hybrid Ford Fusion Energi with a fuel cost about half of the sticker price.)
Figure 2: The impressive Civic checks in at a cool $2631.86/year (plus tax, title, registration, maintenance and insurance) if you can make it last to 200K miles over fifteen years. About two hundred and twenty bucks a month, not bad!
“Is that a hornet chasing me or am I standing in a car dealership?” Image credit: KENPEI, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2804961
Figure 3: This table shows that when you buy an electric vehicle, your ownership cost over its lifetime is made up much more of the car itself versus the fuel to power it. This is a major advantage in owning an electric vehicle: most of your money is spent on value which can to some extent be retained, versus half of it being burned on fuel. This is to say nothing of the emissions advantages, which I’ve covered in another post (“Moving from Cradle to Grave.”) [Note: The fuel economies used in the table above diverge slightly (~3%) from EPA estimates (and are listed in miles/kWh). The reason is given below.]
Figure 4: note here how users report efficiency almost 30% better than EPA estimates (28.1%) — despite reporting a stop & go average of just 41.4% (versus the 55% city figures used in EPA calculations and which tend to favor electrics even further.) See below for an explanation of these discrepancies. Source: www.fueleconomy.gov
The author, preparing to take advantage of 1.25 “free” miles plus a bonus of who knows how much power? In case you were wondering, the highest grade road in the contiguous U.S. is about 30%. I visited it, and it’s CRAZY steep.
  1. The efficiency of the charger (95%)
  2. The efficiency of the inverter (95%)
  3. The losses inherent in pushing electricity to the battery — the largest of which is heat (90%)
Figure 5: Actual vehicle economies — viewed from inside the vehicle and from the wall.
Figure 6: MSRP plus fuel to end of life, excluding tax, title, licensing, maintenance, and insurance.
Figure 7: This table is essentially a visual representation of how close to “cost parity” electric vehicles already are. The blue highlighting indicates the impact of the full rebate versus the same vehicles in dark green — which are viewed without any rebates. Light green reflects half rebate.
Figure 8: the average annual maintenance costs of vehicles versus service age.
Figure 9: the sum and average costs of operating combustion vehicles (exclusive of tax, title, license, and insurance). I apologize for the small font.
  1. The car itself is covered by a 4-year, 50,000-mile basic warranty — roughly comparable to industry standards, though a bit better than some manufacturers.
  2. The battery and drivetrain for the Model 3 are covered by an 8-year, 120,000-mile warranty for the long range version, and an 8-year, 100,000- mile warranty for the short range version. This covers degradation beyond 70%; if the battery degrades below that point, Tesla will replace it free of charge. [18]
  3. Low rolling resistance tires wear faster than regular radials and are therefore generally more expensive per mile than standard tires. They are also usually factored into the fuel economy estimates, so if you don’t use them you’ll cost yourself economy and likely experience a net loss of money. Because you can usually expect faster wear on tires for an electric car than for a gas car, I’ll use an estimate of 25% higher tire costs per mile for electrics versus gas cars.
  4. Cabin filters and wipers are common to both gas and electric cars. They will cancel out as they are not significantly more expensive for one than for the other.
  5. Brake pads wear significantly slower on electric vehicles with proper use — because regenerative braking recovers much of the car’s kinetic energy back into the battery without it being wasted in friction to the disc brakes. We’ll cut the total lifetime brake job costs by one-third for the electrics versus the gas cars (this factor varies considerably depending on driving style.)
  6. There are no exhaust systems, no fuel or water pumps, no spark plugs to replace, and the overall number of moving parts in an electric vehicle — those most prone to wear and breakage — is at least 10–20X smaller for an electric than for a gas-powered car. The table below shows the components from this list which are associated with routine maintenance, and how much of a role they are likely to play in the costs.
  7. The 12V battery, which supplies power to the electronics, etc. will typically need to be replaced more often in an electric vehicle. We’ll consider change intervals of 30K miles versus about 40K miles for this component. [19]
  8. The optional extended Tesla warranty on the Model S/X is a good reference point from which to determine what the ongoing costs of repair might be from the end of year 4 through the end of year 8 for the Model 3. (Tesla does not currently offer an extended warranty on the Model 3, however. I’ll cover why they absolutely should in another post.) For this reason, I’ll estimate the year 4 through year 8 costs as $3000 —two-thirds of the midpoint of the extended warranty for the Model S and Model X — which seems a pessimistic estimate for a car which costs about half as much as a typical S or X. Additionally, extended warranties act as repair insurance for vehicle owners and are generally priced by manufacturers at or above the expected repair costs a user will on average experience — which effectively means estimating true costs by using existing S/X warranties again seems somewhat conservative.
  9. After year 8 passes, the cars in this example will be at 107,792 miles and out of warranty. For the moment, I have ignored the fact that vehicles in this test will reach 100,000 miles (end of warranty) roughly 40–45% of the way through year 7. [This amounts to a total difference of $300–470 depending on the model, according to the calculations below.] I will estimate a yearly average 10% chance of total battery failure for the electrics, which amounts to an aggregate 52.2% chance of the battery failing during the non-warranted period between the 8th and 15th years. From this figure, I’ll compute expected value (cost) of replacement in any of those given years based on the projected costs of lithium ion batteries in those same years.
  10. Tesla has offered an eight year unlimited mile warranty on the drive train in the S/X. For reasons detailed below, I’ll estimate a constant 5% annual chance of total drivetrain failure per year from the end of year 8 to the end of year 15 (which amounts to an aggregate 30.2% chance of drive unit failure for the single motor vehicles, and — assuming independent chances of failure — a 60.4% chance of one or the other of the AWD Tesla’s electric motors failing in that same period. Elon Musk would no doubt be irked by such a pessimistic estimate, but until we see data, or until Tesla offers an extended warranty plan which can indirectly tell us what sort of reliability the company itself expects out of the Model 3, we can’t reasonably be expected to accept promises of ‘million mile drive trains.’ Never let it be said that I didn’t offer an impressively high bar for EV manufacturers to vault.)
Figure 10: Lifetime maintenance in common…the bottom two cells in the leftmost column are what’s left to work out.
  1. Replacing an oxygen sensor — $249
  2. Replacing a catalytic converter — $1,153
  3. Replacing ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) — $390
  4. Tightening or replacing a fuel cap — $15
  5. Thermostat replacement — $210
  6. Replacing ignition coil(s) — $236
  7. Mass air flow sensor replacement — $382
  8. Replacing spark plug wire(s) and spark plug(s) — $331
  9. Replacing evaporative emissions (EVAP) purge control valve — $168
  10. Replacing evaporate emissions (EVAP) purging solenoid — $184
The 2018 Chevy Bolt, as shown on www.cleantechnica.com
The Tesla Model 3, as shown on www.evobsession.com
Red, white, and blue 2018 Nissan Leafs, www.cleantechnica.com
Figure 11: Full battery replacement costs out of warranty. The top of this table summarizes per kWh battery costs (independent of the case), estimates an annual improvement of case production of 3%, and uses these figures to project full replacement costs of the referenced vehicle batteries in years 8–15 (middle section of the table.) The bottom section evaluates the expected cost for an out-of-warranty battery replacement, considering a 10% chance of failure in any given year. Note that the percentage drop results from the assumption that if the battery has already been replaced once out of warranty, it will not need to be replaced again — effectively dropping the impact of the residual failure rate.
Figure 12: Estimated motor replacement costs years 8–15, based on the chance of those repairs being required.
Figure 13: The results — sorted by annual average maintenance costs in year 15, without rebates factored in. I’ll break this down by comparison year below.
Figure 14: after about 81,000 miles
Figure 15: after about 148,000 miles, no rebates…the electrics have narrowed the gap.
Figure 16: Lifetime annual and per mile costs, averaging 13,474 miles/year and ending at just over 200,000 miles — in 2033!
  1. Efficiencies of scale for EV production have not been achieved yet — they’ve hardly even been approached.
”Call the shareholders and tell them we just blew 4% of last year’s profits and seventeen point three cents off the value of all our outstanding shares trying to please the lunatics in the EV community. The ad campaign worked, I’m SO GLAD it didn’t work any better.”
Inexpensive things are not necessarily cheap, as this video shows. The price of a thing has never in human history been less representative of its value, and we’ve rather unfortunately come to view the former as not just the best index of the latter, but more important as well.
A map of right-side driving versus left-side driving. Image courtesy: https://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/list-of-left-driving-countries/ I’d have overlayed their gas prices on the map but you wouldn’t have been able to read them in the tiny font required. If you want to know, go here: https://autotraveler.ru/en/spravka/fuel-price-in-europe.html#.WpYo76jwaUk and remember that a Euro is worth about 1.22X as much as a dollar right now.
Did I really just Google the word, “prefer”? Yep. Yep I did.
This has to be in some other country, at least it seems like it from the octagonal red sign. What does “Arrêt” mean, anyway? I’m guessing this is in Quebec. Maybe Montreal.
This one looks like New Hampshire…
Plymouth Rock, maybe…
Wherever Michael Craner from the Renew America Roadtrip lives. Nice Roadster man…I think I just saw one of those pass by the moon about a week or so ago.
This thing is amazingly efficient, I think I could get used to it. Wait, where did I read that?
Detroit. I could have sworn they made something that used these things here. What were they called again? “Filling stations?” Yes, I think that was it.
Now for a commercial break. This program as been brought to you in part by Keebler.
This guy was so nice that I decided to plant not one but two trees in his state. I’m pretty sure it was Michigan. The trees? One was a cherry tree, the other an Anjou pear.
I forget where I took this one…
Rumor has it this is where they figure out how to spend $600 billion every year largely to keep your gas prices low. They must have needed some pretty big protractors to line up all the walls properly. Or maybe the roof just leaks like my doctor’s office.
They blocked off a full lane on this bridge so I could get a good picture of that shiny arch…
…it didn’t look real, so I went in for a closer look.
Not sure who this guy is, though he looks good-humored enough. Eyes closed, too…must be a fly half who doesn’t know who the hell to throw the ball too. Actually, it looks like he already fumbled it into the bushes…
Went here to pick up someone flying in from Quito. Yes, that’s in Ecuador. Wait…what?!
Drinking cinnamon-flavored moonshine…must be Kentucky.
I don’t remember. Where do the Colts play? Ah…Baltimore maybe…
This isn’t really a black and white issue…
…this, however, is. “Wait, you mean to tell me they used to put gallons of explosive material into their cars? Gallons plural? And the cars didn’t drive themselves? Like they were in danger of running into one another all of the time? What were the people dumb and the cars lazy?”
That’s the Sears Tower. Er…the Willis Tower. Can someone tell me why again people spend crazy amounts of money to put their name on a building? I bet they don’t do that in Norway.
No snide remarks about Cleveland. Look at the nice Science Center they have!
I see those damnable oil tankers and I really don’t think it’s safe for you to be driving them straight through the middle of Philadelphia. I mean, I know nothing could *possibly* go wrong…
…you know, because stuff just NEVER goes wrong…
“Where are we?” <Looks at map> “Damned if I know, there’s no satellite signal here and I see nothing but fields and that big grey building to the left.”
Guessing this is South Dakota, though they seem to have spelled it wrong. Whoever that mason was must have gotten seriously fired, bro.
“If only good old G.W. could see us now!” …pause… “But he CAN, dummy! In fact, the Presidential retirement income rose to $400,000 plus a $50,000 tax-free expense account when he took office, so I’m sure he’s viewing this on the new IPhone X. Or is it the Google Pixel?”
They mvst not have vsed the same mason…I’m svre he’d have spelled it Vtah.
Looks like we’re about 14,000' up. What’s your guess, Tim?
Wait, it doesn’t SNOW in New Mexico, does it? In November? Why didn’t someone tell me this? We’ll be stuck on this hill for three hours and 15 minutes!
I imagine from now on every time you hear someone tell you to take it easy you’ll wonder if I’m chasing after the girl in the flatbed Ford that is slowing down to take a look at the person who’s talking to you. That must mean we’re in some way all in the same room, looking at one another wondering WTF is going on.
Elon, you’ll be pleased to know that the Hound outside the Gigafactory came dangerously close to frothing at the mouth when warding me off. That must mean you have at least a 9th level mage at your disposal. I fled, lest a bright streak flash out of the darkness and engulf me in 8d6 worth of flames. I just don’t have the dexterity for that kind of thing anymore.
Ah, but I have constitution! I am persistent! Below: The Tesla Gigafactory…you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villiany. We must be cautious!
Yep, that’s Vancouver. Looks like your garden-variety Canadian on the left there, but on the right? Occluded by shadow you can make out the shape of a first-generation Electra Meccanica Solo. https://electrameccanica.com/emv-solo-us/
Victoria, British Columbia. Canadians showing their capital capitol Christmas spirit!
The same building is just as beautiful during the daytime.
Wait a second, we were just in British Columbia…what in the heck are we doing in Tijuana? …SHHHH! Get in the trunk and keep quiet! We’ve got to make it back over before Captain Underpants builds that damn wall he can’t stop talking about.
How exactly did THAT car sneak past security on Santa Monica pier?
Meeting a gully just outside Bozeman, Montana. No telling where the bearded stranger came from…he helped me so fast I didn’t even catch his name. Um, is that a Kentucky license plate on the front of the car?
The Devil is in the details, as you must know by now.
Yeah, the EPA managed to give this car a rated range of 75 miles. After I’d finished about 20,000 in three months I started to think, “Oh bull$hit.” Ok, it was slightly before that…
A whole crowd of kids in Boise, Idaho who would really appreciate it if you’d thoroughly consider what I’m saying. Of course, Boise isn’t on the coast so their houses won’t be underwater anytime soon.
If you’re here, you should really not forget to go across town to Heimie’s Haberdashery and get a straight razor shave from Dani. It’s worth growing your beard for a month for that experience. $30 or so I think it was. Here’s a video of Dani in action: https://youtu.be/KqRXM0eubTQ
Des Moines…a stunning state capitol building. Now I know you’re wondering how I got it up those stairs…
Wait, that’s…El Paso airport? How in the hell…
I went to see Jody Foster and she was no longer here. It’s a shame she missed the chance to autograph the map on the roof of the car.
“EV” Jerry Asher would not miss the opportunity, however.
Nor would Plug in America’s Paul Scott. Paul is a bit of a Radical. In fact, he wrote the book.
John Wayland even invited me to his New Year’s Eve party. Yes, the same guy who turned a ’72 Datsun into a 1.8 second 0–60 mph lightning-powered monster called “White Zombie.” Okay, it’s not really powered by lightning, just plain old electricity. It just sounds cooler to say it that way. I hope he signed it “Plasmaboy” like the limited edition sticker he gave me for the right rear door…
Overlooking the most electrified city in the country.
…and a closer look within about a stone’s throw from Zuckerberg’s house. Am I sure of that? Well, I didn’t actually THROW the stone…hell, there were cameras all over the damn place!
There must be a charging station around here somewhere. It sure doesn’t LOOK LIKE there is.
In a few years, Detroit may look like this place if they don’t get themselves sorted out. Come on Mary, you can do better than a measly 32,000 cars a year.
I definitely should have gotten a ticket for this one, but sometimes I think officers of the law just say to themselves, “Yeah, I’m not even gonna go there. That guy clearly has some issues.”
Nope, they wouldn’t let me in here, either. Now ya’ll are just being mean.
Deb S. — who treated for Thai and showed me where the first Starbucks ever was. Only in Seattle. She wanted to send me to her…cousin I think…cousin’s house in a place called “Three Salmon.” Hmmm…the point was to travel within about 20 miles of where 95% of the people in the country live. Three Salmon? Do grizzlies even live there? I suppose they must. If they didn’t there’d be more than just three salmon left. That settles it, too many grizzlies for me.
About 6000' uphill from Sacramento I found this lovely place. Rent seems a bit high for an upstate New Yorker, however.
Neah Bay on a windy night. Where the hell is Neah Bay?
White Sands national park, looking very much like another planet or a 1950's Rod Serling show.
South Padre Island, Texas. If you go any further south in this state, you’ll need flippers.
No one goes to North Dakota in an electric car. NO ONE. …okay, well someone might but Fargo is right on the border anyway, so that doesn’t really count.
Well Bismarck, then. Just because.
Yeah I really don’t know WHERE this was. Somewhere in Virginia I think, and I really thought I was lost in a woods for a while.
Thumbs up for Oklahomans who help me plant trees (you know who you are.) Thumbs down for idiotic Senator Inhofe and for oil derricks within a hundred yards of the front of this building. I mean seriously? You need it that bad? That’s like a 17 year old swiping the keys to mom’s Pontiac Sunfire and heading to the 8th grade prom with a six pack of Miller High Life pumping track 2 of his favorite Prince album and wearing a necklace made of Trojans. No one could be THAT desperate. You’re reaching pretty deep when you’re willing to provoke earthquakes under your house trying to squeeze every last drop of fuel out of the ground.
If you’re waiting for a bail out from someplace or someone else, believe that you aren’t going to get one. America is supposed to lead on stuff like this (at least that’s what we like to think, right?) Bail out? Get a bucket! Photo sponsored by T-Mobile: it’s everywhere you want to be. (Even in photos you’d rather not find it, and where your Photoshop skills aren’t sufficient to allow for easy removal.) BTW…Oregon I think.
Here’s a nice place… A nice place that will be underwater before long if we keep on playing with fire.
Note: I am not saying electric vehicles are like golf carts. However, if I WERE saying that, they’d be legal on at least some roads, and here’s proof. Western Florida.
…moving on to another place that will *definitely* be underwater by the end of this century.
Montreal, Quebec? Check. Victoria, B.C.? Check. Tijuana, Mexico? Check. Key West, Florida? Check. Hmmm…Wasn’t this the car that you “couldn’t use for a road trip”? The guy in the photo seems to be saying, “ You keep using that word. I do not think EV means what you think it means.”
Check out the lifelike anime girl doing a Marilyn Monroe pose!
Boca Raton. Got my new license plates mailed to my brother’s house in Miami.
Okay folks, now that I’ve got the Model 3 I’m about to rip this track the hell up. What? I only have the license plates? Ah damn it I’m going back to sleep!
You can be the envy of your peers, and an absolute ROCK star to millenials…all you have to do is drive electric! See them climbing over my car? I can’t even get out I’m so popular! And you should have heard them cheering! I’m still a bit deaf in my left ear, I swear!
Here’s the guy who helped me plant a White Oak in Atlanta. Okay, he was more of an expert than I am — but by that point I was rather accustomed to digging. Worst places in the country to dig? Jeremy’s front lawn in Texas, and the top of a hill at the Mystic KOA in Connecticut. The former actually required a DRILL.
Not sure why this one is washed out so bad. It’s meant to capture what traveling in a mobile hotel room with an eight foot tall crabapple tree in the passenger’s seat and a bag of peat moss on your lap would look like — if anyone were to actually try to do that. Which no one would, of course, because that’s just stupid.
I built this shot in 3D Studio Max and spun it to a different angle to make it look even more realistic. There’s no way you would actually be able to fit a tree that big inside a Leaf. Leafs grow on trees, trees don’t grow in Leafs.
There’s no evidence that THAT tree ever fit in THAT car, that’s for sure.
Somewhere in middle America. Something like the 25th capitol…
A somewhat blurry shot from Decatur, Georgia the night before reservations for the Model 3 went in. (If you think the image is blurry, imagine what I was seeing at 3 o’clock in the morning.)
There’s no way on earth you’ll believe this, but this is the guy I found after reserving my Model 3 when I was on the way to get coffee and donuts for everyone else in the line. What’s so amazing about that? Well mainly because when I found him he was stopped in the middle of a busy intersection less than a mile away from the Tesla shop in a Leaf with a dead battery. User error, I think, but nonetheless a guy who was surprised when I told him about Model 3 reservations and came right over to put his $1000 down. After I helped him push his Leaf into the adjacent gas station, of course.
NO! No I’m not going back there!
A shout out to my friend Bob, who I hope sees this one.
Where did you think I got the American flag from if not the U.S. Olympic Team? This one was a slightly more challenging shot to take, since doing so required being both inside and outside of the security barriers of the Today Show at the same time. If you can figure out how I did it, email me at negativecarbonroadtrip@gmail.com with the subject line “Tweet from the U.S. Olympic Team” and I’ll send you a gold star.
Here I am just outside SpaceX after trying unsuccessfully to convince Elon to send my well-traveled Leaf to Mars rather than his Roadster. I really think it would have made a better choice.
MEMPHIS! At Central Barbeque!
Admit that you were wondering whether I visited Elvis. Just admit it.
And so here the battle begins… Electric vs. gas. Newcomer versus veteran. Technology versus history. Young upstart versus codgy old fart. A bright future versus one darkened by regret. Any UFC fighter worth his salt would say I’m overextended a bit here, but you will note the gentleman on the right is back on his heels and about ready to take a hard wallop on the chops in the form of a stiff right hand. Unfortunately, big automakers tend to be even less conscious of how much $hit they’re in than even Goliath was when David came to town.
  1. The Federal tax incentive. Although I’ve left it out of the final calculations above, the Federal tax incentive of $7500 for the purchase of a new electric vehicle cannot reasonably be disregarded in a purchasing decision for a new car. With the full rebate still available from all manufacturers, applying it to the figures above would put the Nissan Leaf and the base Tesla Model 3 handily at the top of the pack, and the Chevy Bolt in a virtual tie with the Civic. The full rebate is available for six months past the end of the quarter during which a manufacturer passes 200,000 unit sales. After that, half the rebate ($3750 for electrics, $2000 for the Fusion Energi as shown in the table below) is available for the next six months, and finally one-quarter of the rebate ($1875/$1000) is available for six months, after which the rebate expires completely. One point of note, however — the vast majority of manufacturers haven’t even begun to significantly ramp up sales, so provided the incentive has not been cancelled, you will likely be able to get the full value depending on the car you want, as long as you have sufficient tax liability and decide to buy in the next two years or so.
Figure 17: lifetime costs accounting for the full value of the current $7500 tax incentive (this table also shows the $4000 incentive off the purchase of the Ford Fusion Energi.)
Figure 18: the phase out of the ITC for residential solar panel installation. Note: your home state may provide incentives, too. Check the source of this image at https://www.energysage.com/solar/cost-benefit/solar-investment-tax-credit/ to find out more.
Figure 19-A: Current residential energy prices, per kWh in comparison to the figures used as a start point in the above analysis. Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. This table shows the states in which it is MOST advantageous to switch to driving electric —it ranks the states which outperform the analysis you’ve just read. (The green highlighting shows where electricity is less expensive and where gas is more expensive than the figures used in the analysis above.) In a moment, I’ll show you how to use Figures 19-A & B to calculate your potential savings.
Figure 19B: surprisingly, only seven states underperformed versus the analysis I provided, and even in those states the difference can be more than accounted for by installing solar panels. True, in Alaska solar radiation is so low during some months you’d have to buy electricity during those months in order to drive, but the amount that you would generate with the 2.5 kW reference system over the course of the year — about 2000 kWh — would save you enough money during sunny seasons to more than account for the difference.
  1. You would have to begin your comparison against a combustion car with an absurdly high strict combustion fuel economy — like 50 mpg. Without doing that, you’d be forced to make even wilder assumptions than the ones I’ve listed below this line. In other words, you’d need a very high performing hybrid or a strict combustion car at the very top of its class. You’d basically be driving a Prius or…well, a Prius. (Okay, to be fair you could probably get away with a 4-cylinder, six speed manual 2018 Chevy Cruze diesel with an EPA estimated 52 mpg on the highway — but you’d have to stay away from city driving where its economy plummets to just 30 mpg — bringing it down to 37 mpg overall. Staying away from city driving as a general rule doesn’t seem ‘reasonably rational’ so let’s drop the Cruze lest we really be here all day.) So it’s a Prius or another hybrid of comparable fuel economy which doesn’t have nearly the reliability of a Prius, and hence reintroduces greater repair costs…okay, let’s base it off the Prius. The Prius has a startlingly low 15-year maintenance cost of about $9000 (at least if you don’t consider replacing its drive battery in years 11–15), so it checks that box too.
  2. You would have to live in an area where your solar insolation is very low, or your overall electricity consumption aside from your car’s requirements is very low, or both. Setting aside Alaska (where just 0.23% of Americans [1 in 435] live and where average solar insolation, at about 2.7 kWh/m2/day in Anchorage is less than 60% of the U.S. average) you would have to be a person who doesn’t use very much electricity. With the national average being about 10,700 kWh/year (low in Hawaii at roughly 60% of this figure) — you’d have to use about half as much as a typical American, and you’d have to assume a maximum of about 50% waking hour use (during which solar panels without a residential storage battery would be most effective.) This despite that most typically, more electricity is used during the day than at night time.
  1. You would need to assume the vehicle travels on average more than at least a minimum of 200 miles a day.
This table indicates that the percentage of days in which distances greater than 150 miles are traveled averages about 3-4% across the states. This is roughly 12.8 days per year. The number of days traveling 100–150 miles is approximately 2.5x this amount nationally, or 32 days, and the number of days at 100 or less is about 320 — or 87.7%. Chart courtesy: Brian Henderson.
The green areas reflect sufficient capacity to cover 96–97% of use parameters across the U.S. solely on a single night’s charge. Including both the yellow and green areas covers range sufficient for about 87% of use — again on a single night’s charge. As you can see, all of the batteries are warranted through this entire use curve through year 8. The Bolt should handle aggressive use through 2031, and the Tesla easily does so — particularly with the longer range model and considering the expanding availability of Supercharger stations.
I wonder what will happen when the tide comes in.
Carbonville is NOT a right turn, just in case you were still wondering.

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I’m a sustainability advocate working to promote proliferation and understanding of electric vehicles and photovoltaic technology. Please send your questions!

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Brian Kent

Brian Kent

I’m a sustainability advocate working to promote proliferation and understanding of electric vehicles and photovoltaic technology. Please send your questions!

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Food Security crisis: 17 ways the EU is stepping up for people