Until now, EVs were either limited in practicality or priced in luxury car territory. Both of those issues will go away this year. The Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 are the first all-electric vehicles for the masses.
200+ Miles on a Charge
Most of the major auto players have put out compact EVs hovering around 100 miles per charge. The average daily commute is about 37.5 miles, so technically these EVs would work for a lot of people. However, longer trips could get complex, and I imagine this fact puts off a lot of potential EV buyers.
With the Model 3 and Bolt, drivers can expect 215 and 238 miles per charge, respectively. This means a day trip is now within reach. Tesla boasts a growing Supercharger network that enables cross-country trips. Chevrolet offers a charging station locator in several apps.
The total cost of ownership of these new cars is close to hybrids and not much more than internal combustion engine cars in the compact class. Because electricity is cheaper per mile than gas, the cars have a remarkably similar TCO after 3 years.
These prices reflect the vehicle MSRP, options prices, delivery charges, cost of gasoline ($2.30 per gallon), cost of electricity ($0.12 per kWh), charging conversion efficiency (90%), tax credits ($7,500 for EVs and the Chevy Volt, $4,500 for the Prius Prime), and any incentive programs available around the time of writing. Insurance, maintenance, and taxes are not considered. My analysis is in this spreadsheet.
Side note: The Toyota Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid with 25 miles of all-electric range, has a lower TCO than the standard Prius. The non-Prime Prius does not have an EV-only mode. The reason for the lower price on the Prius Prime is a tax credit not available for the standard Prius. Of the cars compared, this is my top pick for those really needing the extra range of a hybrid.
More Where That Came From
Maybe you’re not in the market for a compact. While this top-selling segment is getting a lot of attention right now, we’re sure to see EVs with many more shapes and capabilities in the next few years.
The Chevy Bolt is already out in limited quantities. I saw a handful on the road during a recent trip to California. The Tesla Model 3 is ramping up for production now, with deliveries slated for midyear.