Levelized Cost of Charging Electric Vehicles in the United States

Brennan Borlaug, Shawn Salisbury, Mindy Gerdes, Matteo Muratori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus Citations

Abstract

The cost to charge an electric vehicle (EV) varies depending on the price of electricity at different charging sites (home, workplace, public), vehicle use, region, and time of day, and for different charging power levels and equipment and installation costs. This paper provides a detailed assessment of the current (2019) levelized cost of light-duty EV charging in the United States, considering the purchase and installation costs of charging equipment and electricity prices from real-world utility tariffs. We find national averages of $0.15/kWh for battery EVs and $0.14/kWh for plug-in hybrid EVs in the United States. Costs, however, vary considerably (e.g., $0.08/kWh to $0.27/kWh for battery EVs) for different charging behaviors and equipment costs, corresponding to a total projected fuel cost savings between $3,000 and $10,500 compared with gasoline vehicles (over a 15-year time horizon). Regional heterogeneities and uncertainty on lifetime vehicle use and future fuel prices produce even greater variations. Cost is a major driver of vehicle adoption, and while much emphasis has been placed on the high purchase price associated with electric vehicles (EVs), it is important to also consider operating costs, including fuel. The cost to charge an EV varies depending on the price of electricity at different charging sites (home, workplace, public), vehicle use, region, and time of day, and for different charging power levels and equipment/installation costs. Despite this, most studies assume a single EV charging cost. We provide a detailed assessment of the current levelized cost of charging (LCOC) in the United States, considering when, where, and how EVs are charged. The LCOC includes costs associated with the purchase and installation of charging equipment and retail electricity prices, derived from real-world utility tariffs. To contextualize the LCOC, we estimate lifetime fuel cost savings, comparing refueling costs for EVs with those for conventional gasoline vehicles over a 15-year vehicle life. The cost to charge an electric vehicle (EV) varies depending on the price of electricity at different charging sites (home, workplace, public), by region and time of day, vehicle use, and for different charging power levels and equipment/installation costs. We report state-level charging costs under alternative scenarios, showing major variability owing to regional heterogeneity and different charging strategies. We also calculate the lifetime fuel cost savings of an EV compared with those of a gasoline vehicle while accounting for regional gasoline price variations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1470-1485
Number of pages16
JournalJoule
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-74592

Keywords

  • cost of charging
  • cost of electricity
  • demand charges
  • electric vehicle charging
  • electric vehicles
  • EV
  • fuel costs
  • time of use
  • utility rate analysis
  • utility tariffs

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