With gasoline topping $4.00 per gallon (and higher) nationwide, the possibility of an electric vehicle (EV) is becoming more attractive to a lot more new car buyers. At $4 per gallon, the fuel cost for a gasoline-powered car that gets 25 miles-per-gallon (mpg) is 16 cents ($0.16) per mile traveled.
How does this compare to an EV? It depends on the cost of electricity (in dollars per kilowatt-hours or $/kWh), and the efficiency of the EV, often expressed in watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi), with lower numbers being better. The cost of electricity varies greatly around the US, the lowest is Oklahoma at $0.09 per kWh, and the highest is Rhode Island at $0.23 per kWh (Hawaii is actually higher at $0.31 per kWh). For this study, we will assume the EVs are charged at home at an average rate of $0.13 per kWh for the electricity used.
EV efficiency depends on a wide range of different factors including the size and weight of the vehicle and its aerodynamics and the ability of its electrical engineers to design and build a highly efficient battery pack, motor, inverters, and electronic control systems. The most efficient EVs are in the low to mid 200 Wh/mile range, while the least efficient are above 300 Wh/mile.
To look at the worst 12 EVs on the US market in 2022, we divided the vehicle’s battery pack size by its published range to get the efficiency in Wh/mile. Then, we also looked at how much it would cost to fully charge the pack (understanding that most EV drivers probably will only use 80 percent of the pack before recharging) and then divided that cost by the estimated range to get a figure in $/mile. There were some surprises—the best of the worst still only cost about $0.04/mile, about a quarter of what a 25 mpg gasoline vehicle would cost at $4.00 per gallon. The worst EV cost almost $0.08/mile, twice as expensive as the best in our list, but still only half of what it cost to run a gasoline vehicle.
These are the 12 worst EVs for efficiency—if you don’t see what you want just wait—soon we will run our list of the best!
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.