I was driving (yeah, like I’d never be doing that) along side a Smart car the other day and was curious if it was electric or gas. It turns out it is fuel. However, the price starts at $12K. I’ve heard about Chevy coming out with an electric car (the Volt) that you can plug into a standard outlet to charge it up instead of relying on a fuel engine that charges the batteries (which apparently, it still has a fuel engine, but different from a hybrid). I found out that Chevy plans on releasing this car starting at $40K or so. Really? I did the math. You can buy a Kia for about $12K these days. So to get the Chevy Volt, you’d have to spend an extra $28K. One of the selling points of an electric/hybrid vehicle is the “mpg” fuel savings. Gas it currently going for $2 a gallon. Do you know how many fill ups $28K (how much more you’d be spending to get the Volt) translates into? At $2 a gallon, that is 14,000 gallons. Let’s assume the Kia has a 12 gallon tank. That is 1166 fillups. Let’s assume you fill up once a week (you don’t go far to work or something). That is 22 years (longer than the Kia OR the Volt would last) of fill ups at $2 a gallon. If it were up to $4 a gallon, well, just half everything, so 11 years of fillups at $4 a gallon.
So where am I saving on fuel? My electric car still needs fuel. It needs expensive batteries. I can’t just go about anywhere to get it serviced (in fact, is there even a place in Polk County that will service, or carry parts for the internals of a hybrid). I’ve heard there are subsidies, but only $7,500. Ok, so 16 years of fillups at $2 a gallon.
So in conclusion, I will not be spending anywhere near $40,000 for an electric vehicle. A $12,000 Kia would be fine for me. If you’d like to play with the numbers, here is the spreadsheet (Excel XLS/OpenOffice ODS) I created to do the math.