How much are you paying per mile in an EV?

You turn on the television and breaking news is on every channel. It has finally happened. The zombie apocalypse. You gaze out your window and see hoards of stumbling, bloody, post-human creatures thirsty for human flesh. A government official advises the remaining population to flee to the safety of a heavily guarded military base 100 miles away. You grab what you can and jump into your electric car, only to realize it has a range of 81 miles and can’t make the trip.


It seems outlandish,  but this is exactly the type of scenario that inhibits people from purchasing electric vehicles. In actuality, the average miles driven per day in the United States is well under 50 miles, yet range anxiety permeates society. Of course, that is not the only impeding factor in the sales of EVs. Even with the sizable tax credits, the technology comes at a premium.

Infographic of electric EV cars

The most important factors when buying an EV are range and cost. We created a metric to analyze the exact Cost Per Mile of Range, or CPMR. In this metric, we take the MSRP of an electric car sold in the United States (from its 2014 model year) and divide it by the number of miles that car can drive on a single charge. Please note, we did not take state or federal tax credits into consideration for our analysis.

EVs Studied in the Analysis

This analysis is more evidence that the Tesla Model S is an amazing vehicle. Even with a starting price of $79,900 (85kWh) it provides the best CPMR of the whole group at $302. The Chevy Spark EV came in second place with a starting price of $26,685 and a fantastic CPMR of $325. The Model S with a 60 kWh battery (not on the graph) slots between the Leaf and second place Spark EV.

The worst performing vehicle on the list is the BMW i3 BEV with a starting price of $41,350 and a below-average range of 81 miles. This put the i3 CPMR at a whopping $510. Another underwhelming vehicle is the Toyota RAV4 EV with a starting price of $49,800 and a CPMR of $483. Remember though that the RAV4 EV had the 3rd farthest range of all the vehicles studied at 103 miles. Only the Tesla Model S has a greater range.

What these metrics don’t account for is the extra gizmos and do-dads you get in something like the i3, the extra cargo capacity of the RAV4 or safety features of a Fiat 500e when you run over a zombie on the side of the road. It is simply a comparison between the price of the vehicle and how far you can actually drive it between charges. In reality, a shopper in the market for an EV probably won’t be comparing the Tesla Model S with the Chevrolet Spark EV, but if you’re someone who wants the most bang for your buck, cost per mile range can be a valuable metric.

If you’re not so sure an electric vehicle is for you, consider a hybrid or diesel car. We have the further reading necessary to help you make your decision, too.

– Are hybrid cars worth it?

– Is buying a diesel worth it?

– What states can I buy a Tesla?

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Written by Tristan Cathers

Photo Credit: TGC