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Study: 90% of people who switch to electric vehicles will spend less on fueling up than before

map ev savings.jpg
Adapted from Vega-Perkins et al. in Environmental Research Letters, January 2023.
Map of percentage change in transportation energy burden from current on-road vehicle stock to a new battery-electric vehicle. Negative percentages indicate energy cost savings for EVs compared to gasoline powered vehicles. Areas with the greatest savings, shown in green, include the West Coast states and parts of the East and South. Transportation energy burden is the percentage of household income spent on fueling with gasoline or charging with electricity.

A new study finds that the overwhelming majority of car owners would save money on energy if they switched to electric vehicles from gasoline powered vehicles.

Greg Keoleian, director of the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems, is one of the authors of the study.

"90 percent of households could reduce their bills by purchasing a new electric vehicle compared to a gasoline vehicle," he said.

The amount of savings would depend on where the car owner lives and the cost of electricity there. "In Michigan, you're going to see a 25 to 50 percent reduction in the lower peninsula."

He said new battery EV adoption will result in average fuel cost reductions of 55%, with 71% of households cutting their fuel costs in half.

But although low-income people who buy new EVs would see significant savings, over half of the lowest income households would still have high energy burden levels, the study noted, where they are spending over 4% of their income for electricity to charge their vehicles. (Wealthier households have higher incomes and so have a lower energy burden percentage.)

Keoleian said in order to maximize the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during the EV transition, the nation should also invest heavily in public transportation, biking infrastructure, and car-sharing. That would also help lower income Americans, many of whom have already been priced out of the new vehicle market.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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