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Public EV Charger Price Increases Mean It's Now Cheaper To Power a Gas Car

Price increases announced by Electrify America this week push the cost to power an EV past what a conventionally-powered gas car costs. Hybrids are now the clear leader in energy cost per mile.

Powering up an electric vehicle in public can range in cost from free to quite expensive. As an electric vehicle tester, I often power up test vehicles away from home. For the most part, the chargers I use in the Metro Boston area are surprisingly expensive. Typically, when charging in public, I will pay by the minute because that is how the ChargePoint Level 2 chargers operated by my local municipality bill. Doing so often means that I pay about $2.00 per hour on a Level 2 public charger to gain roughly 15 to 20 miles of range. That means that it is more expensive to use these town EV chargers than to drive a typical gas-powered small crossover. That being just one local example, I was on the lookout for a broader pricing example to illustrate just how pricey charging in public has become.

Electrify America Pricing

New nationwide rates announced by Electrify America this week helped make the math very simple, proving that charging in public can cost more than it does to power a similarly-sized gas-operated vehicle. Much more.

Related Story: It Costs Less To Fill Up A Subaru With Gas Than Charge An EV? Don’t Tell The EVangelists

I’m a long-time Electrify America account holder and user, so I receive periodic updates from the company. The most recent update I received listed the new prices to be charged by Electricy America, one of the most common public EV charger companies in my EV-friendly state. The new top rate to be charged is $0.43 per kWh of power. At this rate, a vehicle like the super-efficient Chevrolet Bolt BEV will have a cost for energy of about 12 cents per mile driven (not including charging losses). This cost per mile is higher than the cost to power a conventional gas-powered vehicle about that same size and price. We will use the example of a Toyota Corolla Hatchback. The cost per mile for the EV is much higher than the cost to power a similarly-sized hybrid. We will use the 2023 Toyota Prius as our example.

Gas price average chart by AAA

Here is a chart of the costs per mile today, February 24th, 2023, in Metro Boston, Massachusetts, for our three example vehicles. We are using the cost of energy from Electrify America and today’s average cost for regular unleaded gasoline in Massachusetts today, which AAA says is $3.318. At the gas stations we usually fuel up, that is accurate. In some of the lower-cost stations, it is as low as $2.99, and in some of the higher-priced stations, around $3.75.

Cost per mile of an EV vs gas car chart by John Goreham

Here is how we calculated the cost per mile of the Chevy Bolt BEV. The vehicle has a total battery capacity of 65 kWh. It has an EPA-rated range of 259 miles. To find the cost per mile, we first calculate the total cost to power up the Bolt. That calculation is simply 65 kWh x $0.48/kWh. The total to fill up the Bolt would be $31.20 to gain 259 miles of range (in ideal conditions). Now, to get our cost per mile, we need to divide the dollars by the miles. $31.20/259M. The cost per mile ends up being $0.12/m. In other words, twelve cents per mile.

To calculate the cost per mile of a gasoline car, we used the EPA’s Combined fuel efficiency rating. Divide the cost per gallon by the miles per gallon to find the cost per mile. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Hatchback L has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 35 MPG Combined. With gas at $3.318, the cost per mile result is $.0948, or about ten cents per mile. So the gas-powered car is about 20% less expensive to power than the EV charged in public. The 2023 Prius Hybrid has an EPA-Estimaged Combined rating of 57 MPG. Its cost per mile comes out to $.058 or about six cents per mile for energy. The hybrid costs half what the electric vehicle costs for energy.

Our results are all based on the public charging costs when one pays the highest rate offered by Electrify America. There is a program to lower that cost a bit if you buy a lot of electricity from Electrify America. Instead of paying the $0.48/kWh fee, you can pay a lower fee, but you are then also charged a flat user fee of $4 per month. In some areas, Electrify America charges by the minute. Generally speaking, EV drivers prefer to be billed by the unit of energy, not time, particularly if they want to charge to 100% state of charge. The rate that an EV can accept charge slows dramatically after about 80% SOC.

Some Suggestions For Lowering Your EV Costs Per Mile
Here are some ways you can lower your cost per mile of energy if you own an EV:
-Take advantage of any free charging that is convenient for you.
-Charge at home and pay less per kWh of energy.
-Charge at home on an off-peak payment plan using a smart charger if your utility offers discounted rates.
-Only charge to 80% if you charge in public at a charger billing by time. (Good practice anyway)

Related Story - Charging Above 80% SOC Can Cost You Triple That of Fueling a Gas-Guzzler

If you are wondering how this Electrify America rate plan compares to home charging costs in Metro Boston, we can say that the cost for electricity from Eversource is now over $0.34/kWh. That is quite pricey. If you have a smart charger, a lower rate may be available from some suppliers in the area. My present charger is a Lectron V-Box which does not qualify for my utility’s discount program.

Most EV owners charge at home most of the time. Doing so is usually the least expensive way to power an EV and is good practice for many reasons. However, as EV adoption spreads, more and more of us who drive EVs on a daily basis will be looking for public charging. Some of us when road-tripping, and others who don’t have a home charger of their own to use. Those without a home charger who wish to reduce their carbon footprint and keep the overall cost of ownership low should compare a hybrid vehicle to the affordable EV of their choice.

John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his ten years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and TikTok @ToknCars, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Image of EV charger courtesy of Electrify America's media page.