The cost of gas vs. electric charging
The cost of filling up a 15-gallon tank of gas is about $50 when purchasing regular unleaded fuel at the current average price of $3.37 a gallon in Albuquerque. The cost of fully charging an electric vehicle with a battery capacity of 107 kWh at the average price of 15 cents per KWh is about $16. How far a full tank of gas or a fully charged battery will get drivers varies on the year, make and model of the vehicle.
A 2022 Toyota Prius Prime is a hybrid vehicle with a fuel tank capacity of 11.4 gallons and a battery capacity of 8.8 kWh. The estimated electric vehicle driving range is 25 miles. Recharging the battery at 15 cents per KWh would cost about $1.32 to get a full charge. At 55 miles per gallon in the city, the vehicle will go about 627 miles on a full tank of gas which would cost about $38 to refill. To get 627 miles on electricity alone a driver would have to recharge the battery 25 times. At a cost of $1.32 for a full charge the price comes out to around $33, which is about the same as the cost of using gasoline to get the same range.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
For the Prius Prime, the savings of using electricity instead of gas is negligible. Other downsides to using an electric vehicle is the time it takes to recharge a battery and the demand it places on the electric grid. The good news is that in New Mexico there are a growing number of solar and wind electric-generating power stations, so when a driver plugs in to recharge, they are not contributing to additional greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere from the power station.
Around 35.5% of the state’s power stations are run by burning coal, 28.4% use natural gas, 30.2% use wind and about 5% are solar powered. The rest are hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal or petroleum electric-generating power stations.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center shows that with New Mexico’s diverse source of energy production, an all-electric vehicle will produce 4,793 pounds of CO2 equivalent whereas a gas-powered vehicle will produce 11,435 pounds of CO2 equivalent.
The Public Service Company of New Mexico, or PNM, provides much of Albuquerque’s electricity using a mix of generation sources with the goal of providing 100% emissions-free electricity by the year 2040. In the meantime, any electric vehicle using power from PNM coal or gas-powered stations will still be adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.
Cost of electric vehicles
A 2020 Environmental Protection Agency estimate shows that in the United States about 27% of greenhouse gases were being emitted by the transportation sector and about 24% from electric power. A switch to electric vehicles using charging stations powered by wind and solar should help to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted from both sectors, but the switch will not be cheap.
Electric vehicles are still unaffordable to many drivers in New Mexico and the switch to 100% emissions-free electricity will cost millions of dollars over the span of two decades. Either way, the switch to electric vehicles will reduce well-to-wheel emissions in the near term.
A 2022 hybrid Prius Prime costs $28,770 while a gas-powered 2022 Prius L Eco costs $25,075. To get an all-electric Toyota, drivers will have to upgrade to the 2023 bz4X XLE at a cost of $42,000. A 2023 all electric Chevy Bolt goes for around $30,000, the Tesla Model 3 starts at around $40,000 and the Mercedes-Benz 2022 EQS 580 4MATIC Sedan runs around $140,000.