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How Not to Market Electric Cars

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Let’s say you are about to buy a new car. Let’s further say one of your top criteria is fuel economy. Chances are the ever-present Toyota Prius is high up on your list. It’s on its third generation and has been in the market for a decade. Customers love it. Millions have been sold.

How much will you be paying for gasoline if you buy a Toyota Prius? Let’s say you drive an American-average of 12,000 miles per year at the Prius efficiency of 50 MPG. Then you will consume 240 gallon per year. At $4 per gallon for gasoline, that’s $960 per year.

Chevrolet Volt

In other words, when buying an electric car (including an extended-range electric car such as the Chevrolet Volt), the maximum you will save on an annual basis is $960. That is if you get all of your electricity for free, such as from the numerous free public charging stations or from your employer’s facility, where you might be parking while you’re on your job.

Of course, if you charge your electric car on your own dime, your savings decline rapidly. In an electric car about the size of a Toyota Prius, you travel approximately three miles per kW/h. That means that the 12,000 miles per year will take 4,000 kW/h.


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