It was easy to make the case for the low cost of electric vehicle charging way back in 2022, when gasoline prices were high and charging an EV was about 70 percent cheaper than filling up at the pump. But now that the price of gasoline is dipping below $3 per gallon, is it still cheaper to fill up a car on electrons rather than gasoline? The answer is yes — by a lot.
By far the least expensive and least polluting option is to get around on foot, bike, or public transit. But if you need a personal vehicle, EVs cost less to drive compared to a similar gasoline-powered vehicle, and they also emit less carbon pollution.
The map below shows the price of charging an EV expressed in “eGallons,” which is the cost of charging an EV by an amount equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. In other words, the map shows how cheap gasoline would have to be in order to be on par with the cost of at-home EV charging.
How much does EV charging cost?
In most parts of the country, charging an EV is equivalent to a gasoline price of $1 to $2 per gallon. The national average is $1.41 per eGallon, which is less than half the current gasoline price of $3.09 (as of January 5, 2024).
Washington state and Louisiana have the lowest residential electricity rates, so those are the cheapest states to charge up an EV, clocking in at less than one dollar per gallon-equivalent. Electrified driving is an especially good deal in Washington state because gasoline is over $4 per gallon, making EV charging less than one-quarter of the price of gasoline.
Hawaii and California have relatively expensive electricity prices, so charging an EV in those states costs considerably more than in other parts of the country. On the other hand, gasoline is pricey in those locations, too, so EVs still end up being cheaper to fuel.
Some details behind the math
- These comparisons were made by calculating a “gallon-equivalent” for electric vehicles. This number is based on three factors: The average kilowatt hour per mile to drive an EV, the average miles per gallon for a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle, and the price of electricity. Multiplying these three numbers together yields the cost of driving an EV the same distance as a traditional car would travel on one gallon of gasoline. The Department of Energy calls this number the “eGallon” and, for those interested, walks through the math.
- The car used for the comparison is the Hyundai Kona, which conveniently comes with either a gasoline engine or an electric drivetrain. Fuel economy data for both the gasoline and electric Konas are from FuelEconomy.gov. A comparison of the electric and gasoline models of the Ford F-150 pickup truck produced similar results.
- The cost for charging an EV depends on the price of electricity. The Energy Information Administration tracks the average residential price of electricity in each state. Gasoline prices fluctuate more rapidly and by a larger margin than electricity rates, so the basis of comparison between the two types of vehicles is ever-changing.
- Several utility companies offer discounted EV charging during off-peak times, and of course, charging an EV with one’s own solar panels is free. Those variables are not captured in this map.
- Public charging is usually more expensive than charging at home, and costs also vary with location, time of day, charging speed, and free or discounted rates offered by some car manufacturers. To keep things simple, and because most EV owners charge at home, this analysis only uses home charging for the comparison.
- Read more about the prices EVs and gasoline in “Driving with electricity is much cheaper than with gasoline,” but note that gasoline was $4.67 per gallon when that article was written.