The Nissan Leaf was the first mass market electric car sold in the US. Yes, electric cars were available before the Leaf (EV1 from General Motors and the Tesla Roadster are two well-known examples), but it was Nissan that tried to push the needle on zero-emission mobility with a low enough initial cost to sell tens of thousands — as opposed to a few hundred or thousands — of electric cars to interested customers.

Since the introduction of the Leaf in the 2011 model year, the number of electric vehicles available in the US has increased dramatically. Even better, today’s electric cars have triple-digit EPA ranges ( the first letter offered just 73 miles of range) and a range of sporty sticker prices that are close to their petrol equivalents. If you’ve ever wondered, “How much does an electric car cost?”, the Leaf’s more than a decade in the U.S. market offers a good look at how the price of these battery-powered cars has changed over the years.

The cost of electric cars compared to cars that run on gas

The original Nissan Leaf cost $33,600. Although we wrote “initial attachments” of ours long-term 2011 Sheet was “cool,” we also noted that “we spent significantly less to start the car than a similar gas-powered hatchback.”

Nissan promoted the original Leaf to the masses with the message that recharging its battery cost $3 or less. The automaker even added that its electric sunroof costs less to run than a gas-powered car that gets 25 mpg. That is, as long as gasoline stayed above $1.10 a gallon.

Still, even with the available $7,500 federal tax credit, the Leaf’s entry price remained markedly higher than the similarly sized Nissan Sentra, which in 2011 cost less than $17,000. Never mind the impact of the tax credit and the delta between the least expensive electric Leaf and gas-powered Sentra in 2011 was more than $15,000. Factor in inflation and that number rises to nearly $20,000.

Fast forward 11 model years, and the delta between the 2022 Sentra and 2022 Leaf (which start at $21,045 and $28,495, respectively) is $7,450, an amount that the $7,500 federal tax credit more than makes up for. (Given that US-market Leafs are built in Tennessee, the model can continue to benefit from the full $7,500 credit under the updated Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, provisions.) Don’t forget that the latest Leaf now offers a minimum of 149 miles of range EPA-rated, with the larger battery of more expensive Plus-badged models providing more than 200 miles on a full charge.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV offers another example of how the cost of electric cars is approaching parity with gas models. When it was first introduced in 2017, the Bolt EV had a starting price of $37,495. In the same model year, the base version with a gas engine Chevrolet Trax LS subcompact SUV costs $21,895.

Five model years later, the Bolt EV’s base price has dropped to $32,495, while the Trax now costs $22,595. In less than a dozen model years, the delta between the two models has fallen from $15,600 to $9,900. And this delta should become even closer 2023 model year, with the Bolt EV’s base price dropping to $26,595. While the Bolt EV has been ineligible for a federal tax credit for some time now (blame the fact that Chevy has sold more than 200,000 hybrids and electric vehicles, the previous credit limit), the adoption of the IRA means that US production of the Bolt EV will once again include has a federal tax credit incentive (potentially the full $7,500).

The cost of powering an electric car

The rapid drop in the cost of EVs is compounded by the fact that EVs tend to be cheaper to fuel than gas-powered models and tend to have less scheduled maintenance. However, as we learned from our long-term Tesla Model 3, even though electric cars don’t require regular oil changes, maintenance costs and normal wear and tear items like tires (which in the Model 3’s case wear out sooner than usual for gas-powered cars) can still add up. Of course, many factors come into play here with the cost of electricity and gas, as well as the efficiency of a given model, changing how cost-effective an EV is. For example, some large electric vehicles such as GMC Hummer EVobviously won’t be as energy efficient as smaller electric cars.

Despite this, the relative stability of electricity prices should bring additional morale to owners of electric vehicles. Gasoline prices have fluctuated wildly since Nissan started selling the Leaf. Did anyone else laugh to themselves at the Nissan memo about $1.10 a gallon gas? According to the US Energy Information Administration, in May 2011 the average residential cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity was just under $0.12. In May 2022, it was just under $0.15.

At that price, a full charge of the new Bolt EV’s 66.0kWh battery will cost about $9.90. must admit charging inefficiency probably raise this amount a small amount. ​​​​​​​Still, getting 259 miles of EPA-rated driving range in less than two Hamiltons seems like a reasonable amount, given that it takes $42 to fill the Trax’s 14.0-gallon tank at $3.00 per gallon. That number rises to $56 at $4.00 per gallon. Sure, the Trax goes about 100 miles farther on a side, but the cost per mile is still about three times that of the Bolt.

However, EV drivers who rely primarily on more expensive public pay-per-use fast chargers may see little to no difference in the amount they spend on charging compared to the cost of refueling a given gas-powered car pump That’s because the cost of power from a fast charger is about three to four times more expensive than what you’d pay at home.

How much an EV costs depends on many factors. Nevertheless, the cost of electric cars continues to approach parity with gas cars. Factor in the potential savings that come with charging at home, and it’s safe to say that electric cars no longer have a significant cost difference compared to gas-powered cars.

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