As Oil Prices Swing, The Cost Of Charging An EV Stays The Same

You’ve heard of “pain at the pump,” but never of “pain at the socket.”

You’ve probably been told countless times that electric vehicles are cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered cars. Sure, there are still plenty of drawbacks to EVs–they don’t yet have a range like gasoline-powered vehicles, they take longer to charge up, and their fuel source isn’t always clean, especially in places where the power grid relies mostly on coal.


But there is still one major advantage: electricity prices stay relatively stable compared to oil prices, which are notoriously volatile. In the graph below (courtesy of Cleantechnica), we can see how oil prices have waxed and waned over the years due to a variety of outside factors–recessions, the Asian financial crisis, Middle East revolutions–while electricity prices have remained predictable.

Granted, this may not be enough to convince anyone looking for a budget vehicle that a plug-in hybrid or EV makes sense–after all, there are a lot more cheap, used gasoline-powered vehicles on the market than EVs. But if history is a guide, oil prices are unlikely to stabilize anytime soon. And when we hit the EV acceptance tipping point (estimated at $5 per gallon of gas) drivers may start to rethink their next vehicle purchase.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.