Is it cheaper to own an electric vehicle or gas powered vehicle?

In Pennsylvania, if you get the EV Equinox instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE) Equinox, you can save $9400 over the course of 10 years.

That’s what an analysis from the Environmental Defense Fund found and published this year.

“The work we did is specific to Pennsylvania conditions,” said Peter Zalzal, a clean air attorney for Environmental Defense Fund. "So we looked at Pennsylvania electricity costs. We didn't use average costs nationwide. We looked at Pennsylvania specific insurance rates.”


The results of their Pennsylvania analysis can be found here, and a more general overview of the project/organization website can be found here.


There is a lot that goes into these types of estimates, which are a form of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). For this projection, Environmental Defense Fund highlighted 3 areas that lead to electric vehicles being cheaper in the long run.

“In addition to those really quickly declining purchase costs for electric vehicles, consumers are saving a lot of money by avoiding fuel costs; also saving a lot of money on avoided maintenance costs.”

Let’s break down the reasoning.


The Initial Purchase Cost

This analysis shows EVs are still more pricey than comparable gas vehicles, but the gap is closing. Their data included "the MSRP, sales tax, trade in value, IRA and state tax credits, financing costs, vehicle registrations, and a home L2 charger (for EVs)."

I hopped on a local dealership website here in Harrisburg—the cheapest trim for the Blazer EV had a $51,000 MSRP. The cheapest trim for the ICE Blazer was $46,000. 

Add the $7,500 federal tax credit, and the Blazer EV is actually cheaper (this discount only applies if you owe the federal government $7,500 or more in taxes).


Gasoline vs Charge

Get ready for math. (Here is a link to a website that taught me how to do the math so you can get more personalized results)

The average Pennsylvanian drives 11,445 miles per year.

With gas costing $3.69 per gallon on June 7, and if you drive a vehicle that get’s 25 miles to the gallon— you spend $1,700 on gas each year.

For EV owners who charge their car at home (residential electricity rate)… you spend 18 cents per killowatthour (kWh), and if your car gets 3 miles per kWh—you spend $700 on charging for a year.

That is $1,000 less for a year.


Check Engine // Battery Dead

Both an EV and ICE vehicle need brakes, tires, windshield wiper fluid. It’s examining the cost of repairs for the vehicles energy source that leads to differences in the cost of maintenance.

Victor Irizarry, owner of Prestige Auto Body in Erie, PA, works on both ICE and electric vehicles. The mechanic says that combustion engines have a lot of parts that can break or need specific maintenance.

An electric vehicle has… a battery.

Irizarry does note that while EVs may need less maintenance, the mechanic world is still sparse on EV technicians and technology to make repairs. This can lead to more costly fixes when they are necessary.

The Environmental Defense Fund does show that for all EV models, maintenance costs do still come out cheaper than combustion engine maintenance over time.


Dollars & Sense

Monetarily, electric vehicles are comparable to their combustion engine rivals. In 2023, 7.6% of cars sold in the U.S. were electric, compared to being less than 1% of the market in 2016.

It’s a growing industry— still, lifestyle matters.

Do you like to take long road trips? Does stopping for an hour at a fast charger sound like a welcome break, or a drag? Do you live in a home with a garage (and the general ability to install at-home charging)? Or do you live in an apartment?

While this article breaks down some of the money specifics, Erie News Now will continue to explore and research all the ways this industry is growing, falling short, and adapting.