Many people look to the electric car as the savior of the environment. Eliminate gas-burning vehicles and you will reduce the number of pollutants going into the air. That thinking is great, but EVs are about more than just environmental friendliness.

Operating a car that runs on electricity instead of gasoline is more economical. This means EVs should appeal to folks well beyond the environmentalists. Here’s a look at how much an EV could save you in just one year.

The Numbers That Drive Electric Vehicles

electric car at a charging station

Electricity is simply cheaper than gasoline. According to Plug In America, prices for electricity vary greatly depending on where you live, but overall, it's more stable in the long run. This means there are few spikes in price like there historically have been with gasoline. Also, the national average of about 12 cents per kWh, makes electricity is much cheaper than gasoline.

Plug In America reported research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that showed the sales-weighted average fuel economy for new vehicles in 2016 was 25.3 mpg. If you take that number and the average cost of gas per gallon in the last two years ($2.35/gallon) and assume a person drives about 15,000 miles in a year, the average cost of fuel is about $1,400.

Electric lines

Do the same with an EV at the national average cost of 12 cents per kWh, and you’ll find that an EV will cost about $540 per year. That’s saving of roughly $860 in just one year. Many people don’t drive that far in a year, and that’s the amount of money saved every year. This means over the life of the car, you could save thousands of dollars easily.

Typically Less Maintenance in an Electric Vehicle

Chevy Bolt

The Alternative Fuels Data Center run by the U.S. Department of Energy states that all EVs generally require less maintenance. This is because there’s simply less that can go wrong. The sheer number of parts in an EV is significantly less than a typical internal combustion engine counterpart.

The components of the powertrain in an EV will require minimal maintenance. There are fewer fluids to change, regenerative braking functions reduce brake wear, and the lack of as many moving parts means less wear and tear overall.

tire maintenance

Of course, EVs are not completely void of routine maintenance. Tires, brakes, suspension, lighting, and various other components can and will fail over time and need to be fixed or replaced. Still, you’re bound to save a lot of money during the vehicle’s life. Routine maintenance intervals will likely be farther apart than you're used to, meaning you'll spend less time at the shop. 

Electric Vehicles are More Expensive

tesla model s

At this point, you’re probably wondering why EVs aren’t everywhere. One of the reasons is their high price. Most electric vehicles are still priced much higher than typical gasoline-powered vehicles. Although you can save a fair amount of money each year, the higher cost of the vehicles paired with range anxiety, long charging times, and a possible lack of many places to plug in have kept people from flocking to EVs.

Chevy Bolt EV

The Chevrolet Bolt, at a starting price of $37,495 (after federal tax credit), is the first real affordable EV with a noteworthy range per charge. It has an EPA estimated 238 miles of range. Pair that with the fact that you should save a bunch of money on fuel and maintenance, and the Bolt is a pretty enticing package.

Other affordable EVs with longer battery ranges are in the works. The Hyundai Ioniq, with a range of about 124 miles and a price of $22,000 (after federal tax credit), comes to mind. Hyundai isn’t the only automaker doing this, and as the price of these cars comes down, so will the chance that you can save money each year by switching to an EV.