top of page

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle? EV vs. gas fuel comparison

If you’re considering purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), one thing you’ll want to know is how much you’ll pay to charge it. While you likely have experience with filling up a gas tank, charging an EV battery is a bit different. In this article, we’ll explain how much you should expect to pay to charge your EV and how this compares to similar internal combustion engine (ICE) — AKA gas-powered — vehicles. We’ll also walk you through some of the significant factors that will impact the cost of charging your EV. (Spoiler alert: the best way to lower the cost is to go solar!)

Key takeaways

  1. It costs an average of $56 to charge an electric car for a month and $674 to charge it for a year if you’re only charging at home.

  2. In general, charging an EV is about 3 times cheaper per mile than the cost of fueling a gas-powered car. Based on driving a compact sedan, you will pay approximately $0.05 per mile to charge your EV compared to $0.14 to fuel your gas-powered car.

  3. While you’ll likely pay more upfront for an EV than a comparable gas car, EVs are typically cheaper over their lifetime.

  4. The cost of charging an EV will depend on several factors, including your electricity source, the size of your EV’s battery, the type of EV charger you use, where you live, and when you charge your EV.

  5. Want to lower or completely cover your EV charging costs? The best way to do this is to go solar! Sign up for a free account on the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes from multiple pre-vetted solar installers near you.

What we’ll cover in this article

How much does it cost to charge an EV? Quick overview of some popular EVs

  1. The Nissan Leaf costs $6.73 to fully charge

  2. The Tesla Model 3 costs $10.47 to fully charge

  3. The Ford Mustang Mach-E costs $11.67 to fully charge

  4. The Audi e-tron costs $14.51 to fully charge

  5. Across these best selling EVs, the charging cost averages around 5 cents per mile

Comparing EVs with ICE vehicles

EVs and ICE vehicles will both get you where you need to go, but there are a few key ways they differ. First and foremost: their fuel source. True to their name, EVs are powered by electricity, whereas ICE vehicles run on gasoline, which burns internally. We’ll explain the pros and cons of EVs compared to gas-powered cars and discuss how some popular brands vary in upfront cost.

EVs offer many benefits over ICE vehicles, including:

  1. Increased energy efficiency: a higher percentage of energy used to fuel an EV converts to usable energy.

  2. No direct release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: if you’re not powering your EV with clean energy, the electricity source you’re using to charge it may contribute to emissions (though still far less than an ICE vehicle).

  3. Less maintenance: since EVs don’t have an internal combustion engine, the maintenance costs are often considerably lower.

  4. Not impacted by rising gas prices: with gas prices at an all-time high and no expectation that they’ll drop substantially, not having to pay to fill up at the pump. You will still be impacted by changing electricity rates, though. While the average American spends almost $1,900 annually for gas, the average EV costs U.S. drivers $674 annually to charge.

  5. May save you time on your commute: while remote work has increased substantially during the pandemic, if you’re driving your EV to work, many states have carpool or high occupancy vehicles (HOV) lanes that EVs qualify to use. So, you can hop in the carpool lane by yourself and avoid some traffic.

Considerations with EVs

Some downsides to EVs compared to ICE vehicles include:

  1. Don’t usually travel as far: an EV’s battery typically needs to be recharged before a similar ICE vehicle would need its gas tank refilled.

  2. Take longer to “refuel”: you’re probably used to filling up your car’s gas tank whenever it’s empty – EVs generally require more planning. Even with the fastest EV charger, you should expect charging to take about 15 minutes. However, if you have an EV charger installed at your home, you’ll be able to cover most daily drives.

  3. Generally, have higher upfront costs: as we explain below, you may need to pay more upfront for an EV than an ICE vehicle (but it could be less expensive in the long run). It’s also possible that you’ll need to replace the battery modules within your EV over the car’s lifetime, depending on how frequently you charge it and what temperature it’s stored.

If you’re looking to learn more about the pros and cons of EVs, check out our article that breaks them down in more detail.

Comparing upfront costs of EVs vs. gas-powered vehicles

Whether shopping for an EV or an ICE vehicle, a car is an investment. As mentioned above, EVs generally cost more to purchase than comparable ICE vehicles, though this will vary depending on which EV and ICE vehicle you’re considering.

EVs come in various brands, models, and types, while also offering varying ranges (the distance your EV will go on a charge). To provide a cost comparison between EVs and ICE vehicles, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular EVs of 2022 and comparable ICE vehicles in the same category. VEHICLE CATEGORYEV UPFRONT COST (BEFORE TAX CREDITS)ICE VEHICLE UPFRONT COST Compact hatchback sedanNissan Leaf: $28,040 - 36,040Toyota Corolla Hatchback: $21,550 - 26,700 Compact sedanTesla Model 3: $42,990 - $55,990Honda Civic: $25,050 - 43,295 Mid-size SUVFord Mustang Mach-E: $46,895 - 69,895Kia Telluride: $35,690 - 52,785 Luxury crossover SUVAudi e-tron: $70,800 - 90,800Porsche Macan: $57,500 - 82,900

Notes: Cost ranges are provided because each vehicle listed represents a product line with varying preferences and specifications.

Generally, you should expect to pay more upfront for an EV than a similar ICE vehicle. Check out this article to get a breakdown of what some of the most popular EVs cost.

Which EVs have incentives?

If you’re considering purchasing an EV, you’ve probably heard of the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit – AKA the Clean Vehicle Credit – which makes newly purchased EVs eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. Vehicles previously disqualified due to sales caps (like Tesla and GM) are once again eligible for this incentive. However, there are also now income and price requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for the tax credit:

Income requirements

  1. Joint tax return less than $300,000

  2. Head of household tax return less than $225,000

  3. Single taxpayer return less than $150,000

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP)

  1. Vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks less than $80,000

  2. Cars less than $55,000

Even if your vehicle doesn’t meet these requirements, you may be eligible for state EV incentives with the purchase of a Tesla. To learn more about the EV incentives offered in each state, check out this article.

How much does it cost to charge an EV?

As we explain below, the cost of charging an EV depends on several factors. We’ve summarized what you can expect to pay for some popular EV models across various types and ranges. Across all EV manufacturers, the average charging cost of an EV per mile is about 5 cents. These numbers are based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration (EIA) As of December 2022, the average cost for electricity in the U.S. is approximately 14.96 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Remember that the energy required to charge the battery (in kWh) is greater than the battery size because some energy is lost during the charging process. We’ll explain this process in greater detail later on, but it’s important to note that these numbers are conservative based on data filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

What does it cost to charge a Nissan Leaf?

The Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular and affordable EVs currently available. It costs between 4.3 and 4.6 cents per mile to charge a Nissan Leaf. EV MAKE AND MODELENERGY REQUIRED TO CHARGE BATTERY (KWH)COST TO CHARGE BATTERYRANGE OF DISTANCE (MILES)CHARGING COST PER MILE (CENTS) Nissan Leaf S45 kWh$6.73149 miles4.5 cents Nissan Leaf SV45 kWh$6.73149 miles4.5 cents Nissan Leaf S Plus65 kWh$9.72226 miles4.3 cents Nissan Leaf SV Plus65 kWh$9.72212 miles4.6 cents

What does it cost to charge a Tesla Model 3?

The Tesla Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable model as well as the cheapest Tesla to charge. It costs between 3.60 and 4.646 cents per mile to charge a Tesla Model 3. Check out this article to learn about how much it costs to charge the various Tesla models. EV MAKE AND MODELENERGY REQUIRED TO CHARGE BATTERY (KWH)COST TO CHARGE BATTERYRANGE OF DISTANCE (MILES)CHARGING COST PER MILE (CENTS) Tesla Model 3 RWD (Rear wheel drive)70 kWh$10.47272 miles3.85 cents Tesla Model 3 Long Range86 kWh$12.87358 miles3.60 cents Tesla Model 3 Performance94 kWh$14.06315 miles4.46 cents

What does it cost to charge a Ford Mustang Mach-E?

The Ford Mustang Mach-Es offer a few options, though a couple of the Mach-Es are not currently available to order (the 2022 Premium and California Route 1 models). Various Ford Mustang Mach-E models cost between 4.72 and 5.37 cents per mile to charge. EV MAKE AND MODELENERGY REQUIRED TO CHARGE BATTERY (KWH)COST TO CHARGE BATTERYRANGE OF DISTANCE (MILES)CHARGING COST PER MILE (CENTS) Ford Mustang Mach-E (All wheel drive)78 kWh$11.67224 miles5.21 cents Ford Mustang Mach-E (Rear wheel drive)78 kWh$11.67247 miles4.72 cents Ford Mustang Mach-E GT97 kWh$14.51270 miles5.37 cents

What does it cost to charge an Audi e-tron?

Audi’s e-tron line is expanding, but currently comes in two main options: the Q4 sportback e-tron and the Audi e-tron Premium. Audi etrons cost 5.32 or 6.42 cents per mile to charge. TESLA PRODUCTENERGY REQUIRED TO CHARGE BATTERY (KWH)COST TO CHARGE BATTERYRANGE OF DISTANCE (MILES)CHARGING COST PER MILE (CENTS) Audi Q4 sportback e-tron86 kWh$12.87242 miles5.32 cents Audi e-tron quattro97 kWh$14.51226 miles6.42 cents

How much does it cost to charge an EV with solar energy?

Hoping to maximize your EV savings? The best way to do so is to power it with solar! On average, your solar payback period is a little over eight years. A solar system will typically last between 25 and 30 years, and an EV will generally last around the same amount of time. So, once you’ve finished paying off your system, you’ll be generating electricity and charging your EV for free!

Comparing EVs with ICE vehicles: what it costs to fuel an ICE

Charging your EV is typically much cheaper than filling up your gas-powered vehicle. You’ll pay around $0.05 per mile to charge your EV compared to $0.14 to fuel your gas-powered car for a compact sedan. The cost of fueling a gas car vehicle depends on the size of your vehicle’s gas tank and the type of gas required. You’ll also pay more for gas overall if your car is less efficient (meaning it travels a shorter distance per gallon of gas) and if you’re driving more in the city than on highways. We’ll explain how much it costs to fuel comparable vehicles to the above EVs in 2023 by looking at some of the most popular ICE options. ICE MAKE AND MODELFUEL TANK CAPACITY (GALLONS)MILES PER GALLON (MPG) — COMBINED CITY/ HIGHWAYCOST TO FILL UP TANKRANGE OF DISTANCE (MILES)FUELING COST PER MILE (CENTS) Toyota Corolla Hatchback13.2 gallons35 MPG$45.80462 miles9.9 cents Honda Civic LX12.4 gallons36 MPG$43.03446 miles9.6 cents Kia Telluride AWD18.8 gallons21 MPG$65.24395 miles16.5 cents Porsche Macan*17.1 gallons21 MPG$72.16359 miles20.2 cents

*Note: requires premium gas, so the costs listed are based on using it. All other vehicles listed use regular gasoline.

According to AAA, as of March 15, 2023, the current gas prices are $3.47 per gallon for regular gasoline and $4.22 per gallon for premium. You may pay substantially more for gas if you live in certain areas. For example, gas prices in California and many western states may be approximately 26% higher than the national average, whereas you may pay about 9% less in the midwest states.

Cost per charge/tank for some popular EVs and comparable vehicles VEHICLE CATEGORYEV CHARGING COST PER MILE (CENTS)ICE FUELING COST PER MILE (CENTS) Compact hatchback2022 Nissan Leaf: 4.48 cents2022 Toyota Corolla Hatchback: 9.9 cents Compact sedan2022 Tesla Model 3: 3.97 cents2022 Honda Civic LX: 9.6 cents Mid-size SUV2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E: 5.1 cents2022 Kia Telluride AWD: 16.5 cents Luxury crossover SUV2022 Audi e-tron: 5.87 cents2022 Porsche Macan: 20.2 cents

EVs vs. ICE vehicles: which is cheaper overall?

Comparing the long-term costs of EVs and ICE vehicles is challenging and depends heavily on which vehicle you’re choosing – but what can you expect in general? In June 2021, the Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a study to compare the maintenance costs of EVs and ICE vehicles.

Overall, the DOE found that an EV costs 6.1 cents per mile driven, whereas an ICE vehicle costs 10.1 cents per mile driven: a 4 cent difference! While this might not sound like a lot, when you consider the life of your vehicle, it definitely adds up. Let’s say you drive 200,000 miles over the lifetime of your vehicle – that’s $8,000 saved with an EV. If you drive 300,000 miles, this number increases to $12,000, representing significant savings. That doesn’t even consider any financial incentives you get when you buy your EV!

How far can an EV go on one charge?

The range of your EV will depend on the make, model, and any upgrades you choose. Teslas offer some of the highest ranges on the market today. Compared to an ICE vehicle, EVs generally can’t travel as far, though as EV technology continues to advance, EV ranges are getting closer to some ICEs.

Distance per charge/tank for some popular EVs and comparable vehicles VEHICLE CATEGORYEV RANGE DISTANCE (MILES)ICE VEHICLE RANGE DISTANCE (MILES) Compact hatchbackNissan Leaf: 149 milesToyota Corolla Hatchback: 462 miles Compact sedanTesla Model 3: 272 milesHonda Civic LX: 446 miles Mid-size SUVFord Mustang Mach-E: 224 milesKia Telluride: 395 miles Luxury crossover SUVAudi e-tron: 226 milesPorsche Macan: 359 miles

What factors impact the cost of charging an EV at home?

Charging an EV is almost always cheaper than filling up an ICE vehicle’s gas tank. However, the price difference will depend on some factors listed below.

1. Your electricity source

Because you use electricity to charge your EV, it’s no surprise that the most significant factor that will impact the cost of charging is your electricity source. For example, you may pay for your utility’s standard offering or choose an electricity alternative, such as community solar, a community choice aggregation (CCA), or a green power plan (GPP). Typically, you’ll pay less annually to charge your EV if you subscribe to community solar. However, your utility’s standard offering might be cheaper than a CCA or GPP. You can compare these alternative electricity sources.

The best option for charging your EV is using solar since once you pay off your solar system, you’ll essentially be able to charge it for free!

2. Your EV’s battery size

It’s no surprise that you’ll pay more per charge if your car has a larger battery (just as you’ll pay more to fill up a vehicle with a larger gas tank). However, depending on your EV’s range, you may still pay less per mile with a large battery and charge your vehicle less frequently. For example, while you’ll pay only $6.73 to charge a Nissan Leaf, you’ll pay 4.5 cents per mile. On the other hand, the Tesla Model 3 will cost about $10.47 to charge, though you’ll pay just 3.85 cents per mile. The Audi e-tron comes in as one of the higher costs to charge at 6.42 cents per mile and a total of $14.51 per charge.

3. The type of EV charger you use

When you charge your EV’s battery, not all of the energy you use is stored in the battery. Some energy is lost as heat, some is used to keep the battery at an adequate temperature, and some escapes as “transmission loss” (a quite technical process, so we won’t get into the details). EV chargers come in three levels, and the level you use can impact the amount of energy – higher voltage generally equals less energy loss.

Level 1 charging (120-volt chargers, using a regular outlet) and Level 2 charging (via 208- or 240-volt standard home EV chargers) require converting alternating current (AC) electricity from your home into direct current (DC) electricity that your EV’s battery can store and use. This AC to DC conversion causes energy loss because of the heat produced by it. However, Level 3 chargers (400-volt chargers you find on road trips) provide DC electricity, so no conversion losses occur. According to Car and Driver, you’ll usually see efficiency above 90 percent with Level 3 chargers. In contrast, Level 1 or Level 2 chargers typically reach about 85 percent, with some dropping to as low as 60 percent in cold weather.

4. Where you live

Electricity costs vary across the country, so where you live will substantially impact how much you pay to charge your EV at home (unless you’re charging it with solar energy!). Based on data from the EIA, these states have the highest and lowest electricity costs.

States with the highest and lowest electricity costs Highest electricity cost statesAVERAGE COST (CENT PER KWH) Lowest electricity cost statesAVERAGE COST (CENT PER KWH)  HI44.78 centsND9.62 cents NH30.92 centsNE9.84 cents MA30.73 centsWA10.03 cents RI27.50 centsWY10.39 cents CA24.46 centsID10.51 cents CT23.50 centsUT10.54 cents NY22.79 centsMO11.04 cents ME22.52 centsOR11.06 cents AK22.12 centsAR11.17 cents VT20.15 centsIA11.20 cents

Overall, many New England and western states have the highest electricity costs, while some southeastern states have the lowest.

It’s also important to note that more energy is lost in the charging process if you live in more extreme climates — either hot or cold. Your EV requires additional energy to keep the battery at an adequate temperature in these extremes, which leads to a lower charging efficiency and makes temperate climates best for EV charging.

5. When you charge your EV

Depending on where you live, you may also pay different electricity rates to charge your EV at certain times of the day. Certain utilities have rate structures that adjust the rate you pay for electricity over the course of the day or year based on when electricity is in high demand. These rate structures, known as time-of-use rates or time-varying rates, will vary by utility but generally mean they charge more when the cost of generating electricity and the electricity demand is high – such as in the middle of the afternoon on a hot day. Typically, you’ll pay less to charge your EV at night if your utility uses this rate structure.

Tracking your actual EV charging usage and costs

If you purchase an EV charger for your home that has access to an app (many of them do!), you can easily see your usage. For example, the ChargePoint app provides usage data by charge and per month for your home EV charger (along with any public ChargePoint charging), showing estimated costs by charge and month. However, you can also use your actual electricity bill with your exact price per kWh to determine your precise cost more closely. You can also update your profile in the ChargePoint app with your EV’s make and model for it to track the estimated distance you’ve charged.

Image credit: ChargePoint app, home charger usage, and trends

What does it cost to charge an EV somewhere else?

If you’re not at home, you will still want to know what it costs to charge your EV on the go — whether you’re covering some extra miles in your daily driving or on a road trip. The public EV charging infrastructure is expanding in the U.S., so more options are becoming available. Most public chargers are either Level 2 or Level 3, but if you drive a Tesla you’ll also be able to charge them at Tesla Supercharger stations (which we discuss in this article).

Public Level 2 charging costs

The cost of charging your EV with a public Level 2 EV charger can vary dramatically because every public EV charger can have different prices. For example, your company or office building may offer free EV charging stations to employers and visitors in their parking deck or parking lot.

So, in that case, your daily commute in your EV could be free! If you can charge enough to get a complete charge, you may be able to decrease your overall cost of charging since you won’t need to plug in at home as much.

Public Level 2 chargers range in price from free to an hourly or per kW charge, depending on the charger and location. Keep in mind that you may also have parking charges at a parking meter or deck in addition to charging costs. Usually, you can check apps like Plugshare or ChargePoint to see the price, availability, and even the charger’s status (such as tips from other EV drivers who have used it and any issues with charging there).

Image credit: ChargePoint app, public EV charger availability

Public Level 3 charging costs

Just as with Level 2 chargers, costs may vary depending on the location of the EV charger you use. Level 3 chargers are available on many highways for longer distances or road trips. As with publicly available Level 3 chargers, they can vary in cost, and the price is usually far below what you’d pay for gas on the same road trip in an ICE vehicle.

Frequently asked questions about EV charging

How much does my electric bill go up with an EV?

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the average U.S. driver travels approximately 13,476 miles each year (or 1,123 miles/month). If you use an average charging cost per mile of 5 cents per mile and only charge your EV at home, your electricity bill will increase by about $56 each month. However, if you charge at work or other free public charging stations, that cost may be lower. Also, if you have solar panels and charge your EV at home, you may pay nothing!

How long does it take to charge an EV?

Depending on the level of charging, the range of your EV, and the amount of charge you need to replace, charging an EV can take as little as 15 to 20 minutes at a Level 3 charger or as long as 20 to 40 hours using a Level 1 charger (standard outlet). Read more about how long it takes to charge a Tesla.

What types of EV chargers exist?

There are three levels of EV chargers, and each charges at different speeds — Level 1 is the slowest, Level 2 is faster, and Level 3 is the fastest. You can install an EV charger at your home or use a public charger at your office, throughout different cities, at shopping centers, and on many major highways.

Install an EV charger at home at home with Qmerit

EnergySage partners with Qmerit, a home EV charging installation leader who works with a trusted network of certified installers. They can help you quickly and easily install your home EV charger.

Power your EV with solar!

If you’re looking to lower your EV charging costs, the best way to do so is by going solar! You can easily set up a free account on the EnergySage Marketplace to compare up to seven quotes from our network of pre-screened installers. This helps you find a solar system that fits your needs at the right price. If you’re planning to charge an EV at your home, make a note in your account so installers can size your system accordingly. That way, you’ll be able to power your car with renewable energy!


bottom of page