Critics of plug-in cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Mitsubishi i often say their high sticker prices are just too expensive to make a sound economic case for making the switch from gasoline to electric. 

Not so, says electric car advocate and BMW ActiveE driver Peder Norby. 

In fact, Norby argues, driving nothing but electric cars for 50 years could save you a massive $263,000 in fuel bills. 

Examining the infrastructure and energy cost included in driving a 20 mpg gasoline car versus installing a 2 kilowatt peak photovoltaic solar array and using energy from it to charge an electric car, Norby passionately states his case. 

For the first year, he points out, a gasoline car costs significantly less to run than a solar-charged electric car, partly because of the initial $8,000 investment in a solar array. 

But as the years roll by, and the solar panels continue to function, the cost of running the electric car drops considerably. 

Robert Llewellyn Nissan Leaf Solar Panels

Robert Llewellyn Nissan Leaf Solar Panels

Over 50 years, he claims, a solar-powered electric car would cost just $12,000 to run. 

In contrast he explains, the gasoline car would have a net fuel cost of $275,000 over the same period. 

While we agree that over a 50-year period, electric cars will most certainly cost less to run than gasoline ones, there is just one caveat.

Just as range per charge of electric cars is likely to increase over the coming years, so too will gasoline gas mileage -- something not taken into consideration in the calculation.

Since it’s unusual for someone to own the same car for 50 years, we have to assume multiple cars will be owned during that period with each one benefiting better gas mileage compared to its predecessor.

Although that equates to smaller quantities of fuel being used, increasing gasoline prices may negate any benefits improved gas mileage has over the 50 year period. 

Gas pump

Gas pump

But then, by Norby’s own admission, the purpose of his calculations wasn’t scientific accuracy. 

Instead, he points out, the graph is meant to be simple to understand, and to help explain how much cheaper electric cars are to run than gasoline ones. 

“It does not include external cost such as the protection(sic) of oil, propping up oil supplying countries, clean up of oil, environmental or healthcare cost, nor does it include the cost of grid electricity at night when an electric car normally charges,” he writes. “Nor does the graph include the price of the cars themselves. A reasonable argument can be made for both the gasoline car and the electric car as to which will be cheaper to own and maintain for the next 50 years. I’m betting on the electric car.”

We suspect most people will agree with him, although there are bound to be others who disagree


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