Insights > How much does it really cost to charge an electric vehicle?

How much does it really cost to charge an electric vehicle?


Finding the answer just takes a little math.
Finding the answer just takes a little math.

With automobile manufacturers introducing new options for electric vehicles, including Ford Motor Company’s 2021 announcement of its all-electric F-150 Lightning truck, many consumers are giving them another look. As you make decisions about your next family vehicle, it can be difficult to know the true costs of charging an electric car versus filling up a traditional tank.

Finding the answer takes a little math.

Adding up the electricity
Let’s start with electricity costs. Most consumers charge their electric vehicles at home in the evenings. In Entergy’s service area, residential rates are typically $0.08 to $0.10 per kilowatt-hour. This rate is well below the national average, so electric vehicle owners in the Gulf South region have a fuel cost advantage over drivers in other parts of the United States.

Most electric vehicles get 3-4 miles per kWh, and an average round-trip commute for our region is about 14 miles per day. So, a sample, conservative cost estimate would look like this:

14 miles / 3 miles per kWh = 4.67 kWh.
4.67 kWh x $0.10 per kWh = $0.47 to drive approximately 14 miles

Paying at the pump
The price of gasoline is always changing, and different vehicles get widely different mileage from a gallon of gas. 

As of this writing, the average price of a gallon of gas in the Gulf South is $2.79. If you were to fill up the roughly 15-gallon tank of the popular Toyota Camry at this price, it would cost nearly $42. (The Camry is an economical choice, as it gets good gas mileage – a combined average of 33 miles per gallon during a mix of city and highway driving.)

In this scenario, your 15-gallon tank would take your Camry almost 500 miles for that $42 investment in gasoline. An electric vehicle will take you 500 miles for less than $17. (You’ll likely need to charge it twice for that range.) Using our original example of average regional commute distance, driving a Toyota Camry 14 miles would cost you $1.16, more than double the cost of the same trip in an EV ($0.47).

If you fill up your tank or charge your electric car once every week or two, you can see how the savings begin to add up.

The charge for a charge
But there are other costs related to charging electric vehicles. To re-power your vehicle at night, you’ll need a charger in your home garage. Many electric vehicle owners opt for a Level 2 charger. Level 2 chargers use a higher-output 240-volt power source, like the one used by your oven or clothes dryer. Charging times are much faster than with a cheaper Level 1 charger, which makes charging more convenient and can also add to your home’s resale value.

If you install a Level 2 charger at your house, you’ll spend between $500 and $2,000 on the charger, related equipment and installation. These costs will be largely dependent on the charger you select and where you choose to install it. Many electric utilities also offer rebates or incentives for the purchase of electric vehicle chargers. Entergy offers most customers $250 incentive on qualifying Level 2 charger purchases. (Unfortunately, this program is currently not available in Arkansas.)

Charging on the go
When they’re on the go, electric vehicle owners can also charge up at public stations. Rates at these stations range from completely free to a fixed hourly rate. Many electric utilities have teamed up with local partners to increase the availability of fast charging in their service areas, such as Entergy’s commitment to the Electric Highway Coalition. And in some cases, as with the 10 electric vehicle charging stations we’re partnering with Adopt a Charger to build in Arkansas, sites may offer “fee-free” charging to incentivize electric vehicle owners to plug in.

Switch and save
Over time, when total ownership cost is considered—including factors like purchase price, fueling costs, and maintenance expenses—electric vehicles come out ahead. The savings advantage can be compelling in the first few years and continues to improve over time. A recent study by Consumer Reports shows that fuel savings alone can be $4,700 or more over the first seven years.

Nicole Bradshaw
Manager, Digital and Social Media