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$275,000 on Gasoline

Drive a regular gas powered car for 50 years from age 20 to age 70 and you will spend something like $275,000 on gasoline fuel. Drive an electric car powered by a solar power system and your fuel will only cost $12,000. Take a look at the info graphic. 

I have promoted high efficiency hybrid vehicles and the virtues of electric vehicles ever since I first came to understand the advantages that these technologies offer over conventional gas and diesel powered vehicles. 

I currently drive a 2005 Prius that I purchased new in 2005. With over 88,000 miles, my lifetime fuel economy average is ~ 46.4MPG 

The price of home solar power systems has been steadily declining over the last several decades. If you combine all of the available local, state, utility and government incentives it is possible to have a solar power system installed on your roof for $5 or less per watt, and this will fall to $3 per watt within the next decade. Solar power companies can streamline the acquisition of all of these incentives during the design of your system.   

Charging an electric vehicle with solar power you create at home is one of the most sustainable transportation alternatives to our economic, national security and environmental problems of foreign oil and the gas powered vehicles that burn derivatives of oil. 

Here in the Northwest, the majority of our grid energy comes from renewable sources. Recharging an electric car on our local grid is thus an intrinsically and increasingly sustainable transportation energy choice. So even if you opt to wait on solar or forego solar altogether, you can still feel good about plugging your electric car in the wall and skipping the gas pump.

Did you know that the production of one gallon of fuel uses more than 8kwH of electricity? In a Nissan Leaf, 8kwH of power is enough to go more than 25miles. Compare 1 gallon of gas at about $3.50 to 8kwh of power at about $0.88cents. Oil is a thermodynamic looser no matter how you look at it. Oil and gasoline also have a lot of hidden costs from smog, air pollution, sickness from breathing these toxins, and all of the national security and economic problems associated with importing foreign oil. 

A 2KW solar system can be installed right now for about $10,000. Over this systems lifetime, the inverter will burn out and the panels will have to be cleaned regularly. Consider the total investment in this system for 50 years to be about $25,000 total.

A 2012 Nissan Leaf costs about $35,000 outright without any tax break taken. If you buy 4 Nissan Leafs over 50 years and add in the cost of the solar system, your total investment will be about $170,000 or $3,400 per year. 

If you purchased 4 gas powered cars for $20,000 each over that same period and they averaged 28MPG real world, you can expect to spend north of $250,000 on gasoline + the $80,000 on cars so your total investment will be about $330,000 or $6,600 per year. 

These comparisons ignore recurring maintenance costs. The tires on both cars are going to wear out at about the same rate. 

The brakes on the electric car will last much longer because the motor in the electric car can act as a generator when slowing the car down by recovering electric charge for the battery. This is called regenerative breaking since energy is generated from the use of the braking system. When you go down a hill and have your foot on the break it will recharge the battery in your hybrid or electric vehicle. When you are slowing down to come a stop for a traffic intersection this will also generate power to charge your battery.  

The electric car never requires a convention oil change. Electric cars are free of many of the disposable failure prone component present in vehicles powered by complicated fossil fuel burning engines.

The electric car does not have a conventional transmission. The electric drive train in an electric vehicle has only a handful of robust moving parts, unlike a piston engine vehicle, which has hundreds of moving parts all prone to failure. The simple drive train in an electric vehicle is far more robust then the failure prone complex steam punk mechanical complication going on under the hood of a fossil fuel powered vehicle. 

Overall, the net long term maintenance costs for the electric car are lower then that of a gas car, further enhancing long term cost savings for the EV owner. 

Switching from a gas powered car to a totally electric car will only make total sense for a commuter that is never driving more than about 80miles per day.

Most people who are buying electric cars right now already own one or more gas powered vehicles. When the owner knows he or she is going to have to make a lot of long distance vehicle trips during the day, they can opt to use the conventional gas powered vehicle. Hybrids and Plug in Hybrids offer an intermediate solution to this issue. These vehicles are significantly more fuel efficient than normal gas powered vehicles, but they are also more complicated. That said,  where the use of a pure electric vehicle makes practical sense (less than 80mi/ day range required), they are superior to hybrid vehicles and conventional gas powered vehicles in many respects. 

If your commute to and from work and daily errands are less than 80 miles, the Nissan Leaf might make perfect sense. The Nissan Leaf is also able to net its owner a $7,500 tax break right now: effectively bringing the price down to around $28,000 if you can make use of a $7500 tax break.

For solar to work at your home, you need a south facing roof space that is not shaded by trees. A lot of homes have a roof perfect for this. Also, you are going to want to make sure the roof is in good shape before installing the solar power system. Any roof replacement in the future will require professional removal and reinstallation of the solar system by an electrical contractor. 

Solar powered EV's are not for everyone, but for a large percentage of middle class car driving consumers, a solar powered electric vehicle can make a lot of long term sense. These people are the ones you see driving new BMW’s: They can afford a $30K Nissan Leaf as a commuter car. They can also spend $10K on solar panels. The solar powered electric vehicle solution has the potential to save its operator/ owner far more than $100,000 over the long run, especially if gas prices continue going up!

~Aaron K Schwarz

The Info-Graphic came from Autoblog Green


  1. What a fantastic article, I hope and pray that as people learn the Truth about vehicles both electric and toxin forming gas cars, they will be inspired to change and embrace what is good for us all. The cost difference is outstanding!


  3. Nice stuff dear. Thanks for sharing informative stuff. I found something related commercial solar ppa & solar panel installation company. Check it.

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