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Electric car charging expenses vary widely, still cheaper than gas

Gasoline IndustryPetroleum IndustryConsumersErnest J. Moniz

People who drive electric cars pay the equivalent of $1.51 per gallon of gas in fueling expense in California but only 83 cents in North Dakota, according to new federal government figures.

The Energy Department data show the wide variability between states in the cost savings for charging electric vehicles. The national average is $1.14.

The data are available on a new calculator that is part of the Energy Department's launch of eGallon -- a way for consumers to compare the cost of fueling electric and gasoline vehicles.

For example, the national average eGallon price means that a typical electric vehicle could travel as far on $1.14 worth of electricity as a similar vehicle could travel on a gallon of gasoline.

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But there also can be swings in that figure within a state depending which utility district the electric car driver lives in and the expense of electricity in that region.

“Consumers can see gasoline prices posted at the corner gas station, but are left in the dark on the cost of fueling an electric vehicle,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The eGallon will bring greater transparency to vehicle operating costs, and help drivers figure out how much they might save on fuel by choosing an electric vehicle. It also shows the low and steady price of fueling with electricity.”

The Energy Department said consumers will see less volatility in the eGallon price because electricity does not have the big cost swings that plague the oil industry.

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