Electric Car Math   5 comments

These are Fairbanks, Alaska figures.

According to Plug In America, a quality electric car (a Tesla) uses 32 kwh to go 100 miles. For the record, 100 miles is less than one-third of the way to the nearest city in Alaska. I am so looking forward to stopping overnight on my way to Anchorage since the Tesla only has a 300 mile range.

Coincidentally, my car needs to be filled about every 300 miles. $2.38 a gallon for gasoline. I know, we produce the oil, so why is gasoline so expensive here. Nobody can give us an adequate answer. Economies of scale are the explanation given, but we produce the oil, so you’d think we’d get a break on reduced shipping, but apparently not.

Image result for image of tesla carElectricity is 27 cents a kilowatt hour in Fairbanks. So to travel 300 miles in a Tesla would cost me $26.00.

My car holds 18 gallons and can take me 300 miles. That’ll set me back $43. Oh, the cost is half, so get an electric car. But ….

BUT … I need a heater or I’ll die in Alaska’s frigid temperatures. Running a heater in a gasoline engine hardly reduces the gas mileage because it’s excess heat off the engine. Running a heater in a Tesla does reduce the range … by 50%. If I wanted to drive to Anchorage, 380 miles away, I’d have to stop for gasoline in Wasilla. That would take 15 minutes (half an hour if I decide to grab some food and use the facilities) and I’d be on the road again. I would not stop to sleep along the way as it only takes about seven hours to drive 380 miles.

Image result for image 2005 ford taurus covered in snowIf I was driving a Tesla in the winter, with only 150 mile range, I’d have to stop in Healey and Wasilla and sleep overnight – $120 per night for the hotel, $60 a day for meals, and two nights of my time since it takes a Tesla 9.5 hours to achieve a full charge (assuming it can do that when it’s -30 out). So what I save in gasoline over driving electric, I more than make up in other costs.

A $400 trip to Anchorage (round-trip – gasoline, meals and assuming a decent hotel) would become a $1300 trip in an electric car, plus add four days onto my trip.

So please stop telling me about how much money I would save with an electric car versus my gasoline car. Yes, commuting to and from work in a warm climate saves you money, but those savings evaporate in a cold climate and become a liability if you need to travel any distance.


Posted February 8, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in economics, Uncategorized

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5 responses to “Electric Car Math

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  1. I’m looking at replacing one of our two vehicles with an electric car. I would use the electric car for every trip that is within range. I have my own solar panels to charge the car – it’s part of my net meter set up with the hydro company. I would use the gasoline powered vehicle for the trips that aren’t feasible with an electric car.
    A note about charging an electric car. On a Rapid Charge Point charging station a car should reach 80% of a full charge in about 30 minutes. That’s enough time for a leisurely cup of coffee, use of the facilities an you are on your way. It’s the home charging stations on a 30 amp circuit that requires 8 to 9 hours for a full charge.
    Give that info, you would have a very different cost outcome for a trip to Anchorage.


    • I’m going with what Tesla says on its own website – 9 hours to full charge.

      There are no rapid charging stations in Broad Pass, so I went with what it would cost right now. We have rapid charging stations on in the three larger cities.

      My math still works out that there’d need to be at least one overnight stop going both ways because the heaters reduce the range by 50 percent, which means we would have to stop five or six times along the highway. Calculate those stops at 30 minutes and that turns a seven-hour trip into +10 hours.

      And, then there is the very real understanding that Alaskans would be cutting our own throats if we stopped using gasoline, which is made from the oil that drives our economy.

      And then there’s the secondary recognition that all that electricity is generated by fossil fuels — coal and diesel in Fairbanks and natural gas in Anchorage. Only in Juneau, which has hydro power, are electric cars a truly green option. We often fail to recognize that most electricity in the United States is generated by fossil fuel plants.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your point is well made, that trams and street cars in Toronto were simply placing the polution elsewhere when we were generating much of our electricity through fossil fuels.
        We need to understand the complete process, start to finish to determine whether our choices are truly green.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I Quite agree with you, however, I would also be getting rid of your petrol guzzler (16.6mpg) and get a far more economical 4×4 or SUV and then you would save a lot more


    • Not really that interested in saving gasoline so much as having a vehicle that works in the Alaska’s winters and doesn’t break when you hit a pothole. Although my subject car was my commuter Taurus, we also own a heavier vehicle that doesn’t make better gas mileage because it can actually haul a load. We also prefer cars we can work on ourselves rather than taking them to the mechanic. Most modern cars that save so much fuel are underpowered, light-framed, and the engine compartments are so tight you can’t even change the oil yourself. Shifting the costs of fuel to car maintenance and more frequent replacement isn’t really saving any money if your math factors out over 15 years, which is how long we expect any car we buy to last.


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