One of the challenges people have with electric vehicles is figuring out how much they cost to operate.
The price of fully charging an electric vehicle’s battery can vary wildly depending on when and where you charge it.
For the bigger picture, you should also include the amortized cost of buying and installing a home charging station, and the rates your utility company charges.
Here are three components for accurately calculating what it will cost to charge your EV, as compiled by Edmunds’ experts.
Kilowatt-hours per 100 miles
When you’re shopping for a gasoline-powered car, you pay attention to how many miles per gallon it gets. For plug-in vehicles, the window sticker and the government’s fueleconomy.gov website will show an equivalent figure in kilowatt-hours. A battery stores energy in kilowatt-hours, much like a gas tank stores fuel in gallons.
Look for the amount of energy the electric car consumes, which is measured in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh/100 miles). This value tells you how much energy in kilowatt-hours a vehicle would use to travel 100 miles.
Note that this is just the government’s estimate; your EV’s actual consumption can vary because of your driving style and environment.
Cost for charging your car at home
The cost of electricity is more stable than the cost of gasoline, but that cost varies state-by-state. According to the most recent data, the residential average per kilowatt-hour ranges from 9.9 cents in Idaho to 32.3 cents in Hawaii. The national average is 13.3 cents, which is only about 2 cents more than it was a decade ago. To find your state’s average, check the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website (eia.gov) for a state-by-state list of the average cost per kilowatt-hour.
Your state’s average is just that, however. What you pay is determined by your utility company and the plan you use. Electricity cost usually rises with your consumption and varies depending on the time of use. A kilowatt during the day at peak hours or at month’s end is likely to cost more than one during nighttime off-peak hours or at the beginning of the month. Look at your latest utility bill, or check your utility’s website to see the current rates.
To estimate your cost of charging at home, multiply your vehicle’s kWh/100 miles figure by the electric rate for the time of day you’ll most often be charging. That figure will tell you the cost per 100 miles.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you own a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus — it gets an EPA-estimated 24 kWh/100 miles — and your utility’s pricing plan starts at 18 cents per kWh and rises to a maximum of 37 cents per kWh. As such, it would cost as little as $8.64 to recharge at home after driving 200 miles or potentially $17.76 if you recharged during your utility’s peak rates.
EVs vary in efficiency too. Let’s say you sold your Model 3 in the above example and replaced it with a 2021 Audi e-tron. The Audi uses an estimated 43 kWh/100 miles. Now you’d be paying $15.48-$31.82 after driving 200 miles, using the same rates above.
Cost of a home charging setup
Besides understanding what it will cost to power an EV, it’s also important to know the cost of the charging equipment itself. Technically, the vehicle’s “charger” is actually built into the car.
That box with the colored lights, long cord and connector plug that you hang on the wall of your garage or carport is properly known as the “electric vehicle supply equipment” or EVSE. But it’s OK if you call it a car home charging station or an EV charger — almost everyone does.
Most vehicle automakers have a preferred charger provider, but there are dozens of companies selling EVSEs. A search online will help you find the features, power output and pricing that best suit your needs. Just search for “EVSE” or “EV home chargers.” Prices for a good 240-volt Level 2 home system can range from just under $200 to more than $1,000 before installation. Some of these systems can report exactly how much electricity you use to charge your vehicle.
Installation costs for EVSEs vary by region, depending on such factors as local labor rates, materials used, and government permit costs and requirements. The biggest variable is typically permit costs. National average costs for a wall-mounted EVSE can range from $850 to $2,500.
Here are some EVs coming within the next few years:
Electric vehicles coming soon
2022 Tesla Cybertruck
With looks as polarizing as Elon Musk’s tweets, the Tesla Cybertruck pickup is nothing if not distinctive. Boasting a stainless-steel body, Tesla claims a towing capacity of 14,000 pounds and as much 500 miles of range. Prices are expected to start at $39,900.
2022 Audi Q4 e-tron
These upscale siblings of the Volkswagen ID.4 are offered in standard and sportier Sportback body styles. Rear-wheel drive is standard. Power comes from a 201-horsepower electric motor with an estimated range of 250 miles. Prices will start at less than $45,000.
2022 BMW i4
On sale later this year, the BMW i4 four-door Gran Coupe will have a range of up to 300 miles while generating 530 horsepower, enough to accelerate to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Recharging is just as quick: 80% in 35 minutes. Pricing was not announced.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq
Arriving next year, Cadillac’s first EV will employ GM’s Ultium battery architecture, delivering more than 300 miles of range. Inside, the Lyriq features a 33-inch curved LED display, dual-plane augmented reality head-up display, remote self-parking and Super Cruise, Cadillac’s hands-free driving system.
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
The new Bolt EUV crossover joins a redesigned Bolt later this year, priced from $33,995. The Bolt EUV, 6 inches longer than the Bolt, has a 250-mile range, and adds 95 miles of range in 30 minutes with a fast charger. Also, it’s available with Super Cruise, GM’s hands-free driving assistance system.
2023 Ford F-150 Electric
Details are meager on plans for an all-electric version of the world’s best-selling vehicle. To prove its intent, Ford had an electric F-150 prototype tow 1 million pounds of F-150s loaded on rail cars. Reports indicate a price starting around $75,000 for availability early next year.
2022 GMC Hummer EV
The first production vehicle to use GM’s all-new Ultium battery, the GMC Hummer EV pickup has a range of more than 350 miles, and 625, 800 or 1,000 horsepower depending on whether you order one, two or three electric motors. Super Cruise is standard. Prices start at $79,995.
2023 Jeep Wrangler Magneto
Expected in early 2022, this Wrangler Rubicon-like model uses four battery packs and a six-speed manual transmission to produce 285 horsepower, reaching 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. But where do you recharge it when you’re off-road in the middle of nowhere?
2022 Mazda MX-30
Sharing its platform with the CX-30, Mazda will bring its electrified crossover to the U.S. as a pure EV or with an additional gasoline-powered rotary engine. In Europe, the EV has 124 miles of range, although the exact range hasn’t been released by Mazda or the EPA.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS
Mercedes-Benz is launching its electric vehicle sub-brand EQ this fall with this electrified rendition of its S-Class flagship sedan. While powertrain specifics haven’t been released, the dashboard will boast an astonishing 56-inch curved “MBUX Hyperscreen.”
2022 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Arriving at dealers this summer, the Cross Turismo offers more cargo space than the standard Taycan, and will feature dual-motor all-wheel drive, a two-speed rear transmission, and Porsche adaptive air suspension. Performance matches the Taycan. Prices start at $90,900.
2023 Volkswagen ID.4
VW’s first EV is under its ID sub-brand. Smaller than a Tiguan, but boasting more interior space, the ID.4 crossover has room for five and 30 cubic feet of stuff. With 201 horsepower, and 250 miles of range, it recharges up to 80 percent in 38 minutes. Prices start at $39,995.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
Volvo’s first EV is an electrified all-wheel-drive crossover with 408 horsepower and more than 200 miles of range, plus a 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds. Recharging to 80 percent takes 40 minutes using a DC fast charger. Prices start at less than $50,000.