Our EV costs 73% less to drive than our Jeep

The per-mile cost of driving our two cars
To the dismay of internet trolls, I chose to drive my new electric car instead of returning it to the dealership or smashing it for scrap metal. And guess what? It's a HELLUVA lot cheaper to drive than our other car: 72.8 percent cheaper, to be exact.

RELATED: Haters be hatin' on my cheap new EV

I'll do the math on this below so you can see my methodology and update a few more things I've learned driving this car for a month as well.

We recently became the unlikely owners of a Nissan Leaf, thanks to a combination of private incentives and government tax credits in Colorado that slashed the effective pre-tax price of the car to $9,400 in our case. (The $10,000 Xcel customer incentive expires June 30.)

Our electric bills
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The first month's power bill is in: driving this car for my daily commute and around-town errands for the month raised our electric bill about 30 bucks.

The electric portion of our June power bill was $31.61 higher than the average cost from the three months before we started plugging in our car. Helpfully, our billing cycle began the day after we bought the car. And we didn't need to turn on the air conditioning in our house before that billing cycle ended, which make the months pretty good to compare to one another.


In the first month we put about 1,000 miles on the Leaf. We used off-site chargers twice to do about 100 miles of that driving, which means I drove about 900 miles on power that came from the wall outlet in my garage.

The cheap gas near my house runs $2.19 a gallon right now. Our other car (which we love!) is a 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited that gets 17 miles per gallon. Crunching the numbers to drive 900 miles:
  • Our Jeep Wrangler: $116.07
  • Our Nissan Leaf:     $31.61
Put another way, as cost per mile:
  • Our Jeep Wrangler: 13¢ per mile
  • Our Nissan Leaf:     3.5¢ per mile
In our first month, we saved $84.46 in energy costs by using the EV as our primary commuter and around-town car. That's nearly 73 percent of the amount we'd have spent to drive the Jeep the same number of miles.  In our case, it's a little more than we need to cover the added insurance cost of owning a second car that's brand-new, since we shared one car before.


We are charging the Leaf at home off of the 110v trickle charger cable it came with-- and that's all we really need in a practical sense.

My battery's charge after driving to work.
My commute to work is 6 miles. When I got to work today, I'd used a whopping four percent of my battery, which can be topped back to 100 percent in a matter of minutes, even on a standard wall outlet.

If you aren't draining the battery below 50 percent, you can recharge fully overnight on the trickle cable.

I may put in a 220v charger someday, (they can be found for as little as $300, plus the cost of installing a circuit where you need it) but that would honestly be a luxury purchase.

It would help in limited circumstances to provide flexibility, but for general around-town use, the wall outlet you already have is fine. I use mine to commute and drive from the Sloan Lake area to Centennial regularly and haven't had an issue.


Both plugs work on my car.
Before we decided to pull the trigger, I'd seen several comments online in my research warning that the sales staff at dealerships don't tend to know a lot of detail about the electric cars they sell.

That turned out to be the case for me. I wrote in my original article that we had opted not to pay for the $1,700 upgrade to have a quick DC charge port on our Leaf.

It has one, after all!

The sales rep told us in no uncertain terms that the Leaf we bought did not have the DC charger onboard and that there was no way to upgrade to one after we buy.

I assumed that I had a dummy port under the larger charge cover where that technology would be, but it turns out ours works. It was a pleasant surprise, but still would have been nicer to know what we were getting.

All of which is to say-- know what you're looking for if you go to the dealership.


Colorado bases registration fees on the MSRP of a car, not what you paid.

So even though I got my car for $9,400 pre-tax, I paid the registration fee of a new $33,000 car.

It cost me $782 to register the car, which includes a $50 EV surcharge.

It seems odd for the state to charge a premium to register an electric vehicle whilst simultaneously offering a $5,000 tax break to encourage you to buy one.

The Colorado Department of Revenue pointed me to the state law that creates the $50 annual EV registration fee.

$30 of it goes to the Highway Users Tax Fund, which is still a deal if you think about it. Most people pay into that fund by buying gas in the form of a 22 cent per gallon gas tax.

Using my 900 mile figures above, I'd have paid $11.66 worth of gas tax by driving my Jeep in the first month. Instead, I'm paying $30 directly to that fund for the whole year.

This sticker is required by Colorado law. It does nothing for you.
The other $20 of the annual EV fee goes to a state grant program to subsidize EV charging stations.

You also get a really stupid-looking EV required by law to put in the upper right corner your windshield.

The sticker doesn't do anything magical for you-- you can't use HOV lanes for free or anything like that. (On a related note, the state only allowed 2,000 people to get HOV lane passes for hybrid & electric cars.)

This seemed silly and unnecessary to me, but since the backing of the sticker made it very clear that it was required, I asked the revenue folks to explain why:

I remain skeptical about how helpful this would be in a real emergency.

But then again, I'm not the guy who's going to have to run at a burning pile of lithium ion batteries when stuff goes wrong, so I put the damn sticker in my windshield.

If you'd like to argue with it, argue with your state legislator. I'm off the sticker case for now.