Friday, November 29, 2013

Who's winning--EVs vs ICEVs?

Today I toured the San Francisco International Auto show to compare electric vehicles (EVs) with the Internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) on display there.  Of course, all the new cars look shiny, comfy, powerful, and sleek, so from appearances sake, I'm not much of a judge.  Fortunately, each car has an EPA sticker that gives the mileage rating and also gives the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).   From that I made a couple of tables (with rounded numbers).  I surely missed many vehicles, but I think I got pretty much of a feel for the new cars on the market.

Table 1 compares cars that looked (to me) more or less like the Chevy Volt that we own.  Table 2 compares smaller cars that look more like the Chevy Spark, which I test drove last week.  I didn't compare larger cars to the extended range EV Cadillac, but that would be an interesting task for another day.

Table 1 shows that I saw four cars that were less expensive than the Chevy Volt taking the cost of the vehicle and the cost of gasoline into account.  These were the Dodge Dart, Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic, and Hyundai Elantra.   Although these cars are less expensive, I doubt that they can compare to the Volt's smooth, quiet ride, low maintenance costs, and extremely fast take-off.  And, of course, all that carbon pollution should have a price for destroying the planet.

Table 1
Cost Comparison Chevy Volt and various similar cars
Make/Model      MPG             MSRP                                            
Chevy Volt
37 mpg on generator; assume 2/3 miles on electric
36,000 minus 9,000 rebate
annual gas savings for Volt*
Annual savings (cost) for purchase price**
Total Annual savings
Years to break even***
Dodge Dart
27
20,000
$1,004
-1575
-$571
7.8
Dodge Charger (a bit bigger)
23
30,000
$1,290
675
$1,965

Fiat Trekking
28
24,000
$946
-675
$271

Mazda 4 door
34
30,000
$666
675
$1,341

Mazda 5 door
31
26,500
$792
-112.5
$680

Acura (a bit bigger)
20
35,000
$1,580
1800
$3,380

BMW active hybrid
25
51,000
$1,136
5400
$6,536

Toyota Prius
44
27,000
$369
0
$369

Ford  C-Max hybrid
43
26,000
$393
-225
$168

Nissan Sentra
33
21,000
$705
-1350
-$645
9.6
Honda Civic
44
25,000
$369
-450
-$81
6.1
Honda Civic Navi
32
24,500
$748
-562.5
$185

Kia Optima hybrid
38
33,000
$528
1350
$1,878

Optima
24
37,000
$1,210
2250
$3,460

Subaru WRX
21
30,000
$1,474
675
$2,149

Chevy Malibu
24
23,000
$1,210
-900
$310

Chevy Cruze
33
26,000
$705
-225
$480

Hyundai Elantra
30
17,000
$840
-2250
-$1,410
13.4
Assuming 12,000 miles driven per year; cost of gas = $3.70 per gallon
*The cost for gas for the Volt assumes 8,000 miles on electricity at 3 cents per mile (10cents/kwh ÷ 3.3 miles/kwh) = $240; 4000 miles on gas at 10cents per mile ($3.70 per gallon/37 mpg) = $400; total = $640 per year
**Financing cost assumes 4% interest loan for 5 years.  Capital Recovery Factor = .225
***For cars that are cheaper than the Volt, even with the gas savings, this is calculated by taking the extra cost for the five years it takes to pay off the car, and then dividing that by the annual savings after the car is paid.  E.g. for the Dodge Dart, the Volt costs $571 more per year for five years = $2855.  After that the Volt saves $1004 per year, which will take 2.8 years to earn.  Adding that to the first five years gives 7.8 years.  After than the Volt continues to save $1004 per year, or more if the price of gas goes up.

Table 2 shows that, among small cars like the Spark EV, only the Toyota Yaris can compete on total cost of the vehicle plus gasoline.  This assumes that the Spark is used for commuting and local errands with its range of about 90 miles.  As in the case of the Volt, the price difference does not take into account maintenance savings, the smooth, quiet ride, zippy performance, or environmental benefits of an EV. 

Table 2
Comparisons for Chevy Spark EV
Chevy Spark EV
n/a
28000 minus $10000 in rebates
cost savings on gas
Annual savings (cost) for purchase price**
Total Annual savings
VW Beetle
26
19,000
$1,123
225
$1,348
Fiat Sport Hatchback
31
21,500
$894
787.5
$1,681
Smart
36
21,000
$728
675
$1,403
Toyota Yaris
32
14,000
$856
-900
-$44
Hyundai Accent
30
15,000
$933
-675
$258
Assuming 10,000 miles driven per year, cost of gas $3.70 per gallon.  Cost for Spark = 3 cents per mile. $300.  Financing costs same as Table 1.

I also saw three all-electric models in addition to the Spark.  They were all larger, sized like the Volt, and would make an excellent choice for a second car if you feel the Spark is too small.  They were the Focus Electric--$37,000, the Nissan Leaf--$36,000, and the Honda FiT-EV--$37,000.  BMW also had an EV on display that has an optional extended range EV backup generator like the Volt, but it won't be available until the Spring of 2014, so there were no price details.

I couldn't help but chuckle at the SF Chronicle's coverage of the auto show.  They featured an article headlined "The internal combustion engine isn't dead yet".  The negative nature of the headline reminded me of Richard Nixon's proclamation, "I'm not a crook."  All people heard was the word "crook".  Hopefully all people will hear about ICE's is the word "dead".

Conclusion:  Save money and save the planet--make your next car an EV!

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