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Electric vs. Gas Cars: Deciding Which to Buy

Finance | 04/13/2022 22:00

You’re gearing up to buy your new car and suddenly you have one more thing to think about; do you want an electric car or a gas car? A decade ago the choices were very limited, but now there are more options when it comes to electric cars. So if you’re undecided about what your next ride should be, we’re here to help. Today we are talking about the pros and cons of getting an electric car.

Which is better for you, an electric car or a gas car?

The difference between electric cars and gas cars is fairly simple. Electric cars are powered either solely or partially by electricity. They use a battery that stores the energy, and an electric motor starts the vehicle. 

Gas cars solely use gasoline as fuel. They use an internal combustion engine to start the car and stored gas to power the vehicle.

What types of electric cars are there?

First up, let's talk about the different types of electric vehicles that are on the market. There are three main types of electric cars. 

  • All Electric (Battery-Electric, BEVs). These vehicles use stored electricity as the sole means of energy. Examples of BEVs include the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model X, and Volkswagen e-Golf.

  • Hybrid Electric (HEVs). The vehicles use an internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor. They do not plug in to charge, but instead are charged by a regenerative brake system. These vehicles turn your car’s kinetic energy into stored energy. Examples include the Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and Toyota Prius Hybrid.

  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEVs). Just like the HEVs, they have both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, but they can be plugged in to charge. These vehicles will run on just the battery until the battery is almost out, then it switches to gas as a source of fuel. Examples include the Chevy Volt, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, and the Hyundai Sonata PHEV.

Which will save you more money: electric or gas?

This question is a bit complicated, as there are a lot of components to the cost of cars. If you're looking to save money on your car payment, there's a lot to consider. Upfront, electric cars tend to be more expensive. This is, however, trending downwards as more EVs enter the market. 

Let’s look at gas cars first. In 2022, gas prices are expected to hit a national average of $4.00 per gallon. This means that it will cost the average person with a 14 gallon tank about $56 to fill up their tank. Cars vary greatly in their gas efficiency, but the average car gets about 25 miles to the gallon. So for an average car, we can get a little over 330 miles to the tank. 

This averages to about $.16 per mile for a gas car. 

Now let’s look at electric cars. The average cost of a kilowatt-hour is $.1042 (10.42 cents). A standard electric car takes about 7.2 kWh/hour to reach a full charge of about 50 kWh. This means it costs about $5.10 to fully charge an EV. The standard range is about 250 miles for one full charge. 

This averages to $.02 per mile for an electric car. 

So it’s pretty clear that even with our estimations, a gas car will cost you much more money in fuel in the long run. On top of that, gas cars are often more expensive to maintain than electric cars. Transmission fluid, coolant, and motor oil are all expenses that you can avoid with an electric car. 

Looking to save money on your monthly car payment?

If you already have a car but need a better rate, consider a car loan refinance. Interest rates are still low now, so it's a great time to get a free quote and see how much you could save.

What are the advantages of electric cars?

It is safe to say that electric cars will save you money in the long run. But what are some other advantages to switching to electric?

Less Emissions

A great benefit of having an electric car is that it produces less emissions (zero emissions if your car is all-electric). If you are concerned about the environment, this is a huge advantage. 

More Energy Efficient

Electric cars are more energy efficient than gas cars. EV batteries convert about 77% of energy into movement, while combustion engines convert between 12% and 30%

Tax Credits

The government offers tax credits when you switch over to an electric vehicle, which can vary between $2500 and $7500. There are a few restrictions/conditions of the tax credit:

  • You must own the car to receive the tax credit.

  • You cannot simply buy an electric car in order to resell it.

  • The electric car must be mostly used within the U.S.

  • The manufacturer must be qualified.

  • The battery must be able to store at least 4 kWh of energy.

  • The battery must also be able to be charged by an external energy source. 

Lower Maintenance Costs

Since there are less parts under the hood, maintenance costs are much less for electric cars. In essence, there is much less that can go wrong. They are composed of a motor shaft and little else, while gas cars have hundreds of moving parts. Plus you can skip out on oil changes and don’t have to worry about transmission fluids. 

What is the downside of electric vehicles?

While electric cars have a lot of benefits, there are some considerable limitations.

Less Infrastructure

Depending on where you live, there might not be a good infrastructure for having an electric car. In bigger cities charging areas are common and can be found with little effort. But if you live in a rural area, it may be impractical to rely on charging areas. It is much easier to find a gas station than a charging station.

Short Range

Compared to gas cars, electric cars have a shorter distance they can travel without requiring a charge. This makes it hard to do longer trips or take road trips.

Long Charging Time

Electric cars can take a long time to fully charge. An electric car that needs a charge to drive 200 miles would take about 20 minutes of charge time, and that's with a DC fast charger. Other chargers can charge at a rate as slow as 14 miles of range per hour. Gas cars can be filled up with the snap of a finger. 

Car Selection

While we have come a long way in the last decade, there are still only about 30 different electric cars to choose from. This can be quite limiting, especially if you have a lot of other considerations in your car-buying criteria. 

And that’s what you need to know when deciding between an electric car and a gas car. 

Buying a car is very exciting, but it can also be very overwhelming. If you aren’t in the market for a new car because you still have an existing loan, consider refinancing your car loan with Auto Approve. We can help you save a ton of money. And who doesn’t want that?


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