No, it’s not cheaper to fill a gas-powered vehicle than charge an electric one

VERIFY found that it costs about 17 cents to drive one mile in an average gas-powered vehicle versus roughly 5 cents to drive one mile in an electric vehicle.

As the average price for gas in the U.S. remains well above $4 per gallon, you might be thinking twice about the type of vehicle you’re driving. 

Some Twitter users are claiming that it’s still cheaper to drive a gas-powered vehicle rather than an electric vehicle, even with these high gas prices. An article from Fox Business, which claims that filling a car with gas can be cheaper than charging an electric vehicle, is also making the rounds on social media.

THE QUESTION

Is it cheaper to fill a gas-powered vehicle than an electric one?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, it’s not cheaper to fill a gas-powered vehicle than charge an electric one. 

WHAT WE FOUND

VERIFY looked at the national average prices of filling up gas-powered cars and charging electric cars, and calculated the cost of driving one mile in both types of vehicles. 

The average car got just under 26 miles to the gallon in 2021, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). GasBuddy estimated the national average price for gas on March 11 at $4.34 per gallon. That means it costs about 17 cents to drive one mile in an average gas-powered vehicle.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates the average electric vehicle has a 66-kilowatt-hour battery and can go about 200 miles per full charge. The agency conducted a study of electric vehicle owners’ charging habits that found owners pay an average of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour to charge the battery. That means it costs roughly 5 cents to drive one mile in an electric vehicle.

So we can VERIFY it’s not cheaper to drive one mile in a gas-powered car than an electric vehicle. It costs about 17 cents to drive one mile in an average gas-powered vehicle versus roughly 5 cents to drive one mile in an electric vehicle.

It is true, though, that charging an electric car can be more expensive than driving a gas-powered car, as Fox Business claims. Fast-charging is the most expensive charging scenario and can cost three times more than charging an electric vehicle at home, but studies show that most electric vehicle drivers don’t regularly use fast-charging stations. 

There are three levels of electric vehicle charging. Level 1 charging uses a standard wall outlet while Level 2 charging uses a higher-powered outlet to deliver more charge per hour. Fast-charging stations can fully charge an electric vehicle in 30 minutes or less, compared to multiple hours for Level 1 and 2 charging. 

A report from the Fuels Institute and Electric Vehicle Council in June 2021 found that 70-80% of electric vehicle charging occurs at home or in a workplace parking lot. Level 1 and 2 charging are most common at home and the workplace. 

Additionally, prolonged use of fast-charging stations can have a negative impact on an electric vehicle’s battery capacity. Engineers at the University of California, Riverside found that high temperatures and resistance from fast charging at commercial stations can cause cracks and leaks, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers reported in 2020. 

Fox Business acknowledges at the end of its article that charging an electric vehicle at home, as many drivers do, makes electric vehicles cheaper to drive than gas cars. 

More from VERIFY: Fact-checking claims about electric cars and their carbon footprint

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