Although the authors hesitate to declare any alternative fuel the cheapest option, the chart below clearly shows the “BEV-100″ (Battery-Electric with 100-mile range, i.e. the Nissan Leaf) to be the least expensive option even at high electricity prices ($0.14/kWh, €0,107/kWh) and low gas prices ($3,5/gallon, €0,70/L). However, the Leaf only has a clear lead when the $7500 (€5710) tax credit is taken into account.
Detailed results of TCO comparison
The table below shows the results of the TCO analysis for light-duty sedans based on current fuel prices in the United States and assuming 120,000 lifetime miles (193,121km) on the vehicle.
It is important to note that this analysis does not include the cost of infrastructure, which would potentially add several thousand dollars to the total cost of fleet operator adopting BEVs. The TCO also does not assign a price to the opportunity costs that result from the BEV’s 100 mile (160km) range. This analysis assumes that a fleet operator will only adopt a BEV if it is appropriate for that fleet’s service parameters. For a BEV, this would mean that the fleet is driven in a fairly limited geographic area and the vehicles are returned to a charging station location each night.
TCO Results across a Range of Fuel Prices
The chart below shows one example of a TCO comparison with varying fuel prices at 120,000 lifetime miles (193,121km). The example looks at mid-size sedans with four cylinders and 2.4 liter (L) engines. This is a typical vehicle class in use by fleet operators and it also offers one of the greater ranges of alternative options. The assumptions used for this chart include:
- Low price gas: $3.5/gallon
- Mid-price gas: $4.0/gallon
- High price gas: $5.0/gallon
- Low price diesel: $4.0/gallon
- High price diesel: $5.0/gallon
- Low price B20: $4.2/gallon
- High price B20: $5.2/gallon
- E85: $3.5/gallon
- CNG: $1.75/gge
- Low electric rate: $0.01/kWh
- High electric rate: $0.14/kWh
- PHEV-40 driven on electric power for 80% of lifetime miles
- PHEV-10 driven on electric power for 50% of lifetime miles
The vehicles in the chart are (from left to right):
- A conventional car with a 4 cylinder, 2.4 liter engine
- A flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) with a 4 cylinder, 2.4 liter engine
- A car with a four cylinder diesel engine.
- The diesel car running on Biodiesel.
- A conventional car (same engine) with start-stop technology which turns off the engine when the car is stopped.
- A mid-sized hybrid-electric vehicle with a 2.4 liter engine.
- A battery electric vehicle with 100 miles (160km) of range
The goal of this analysis is to provide fleet operators with some guidance on the comparative economics of the various alternative fuel and propulsion options available for fleets. In reality, most fleets will use a TCO analysis as only one of their considerations. The primary reasons to adopt clean fuel vehicles are, of course, the desire to lower tailpipe emissions, reduce the fleet’s impact on air pollution and climate change, reduce exposure to gasoline price volatility, improve energy security, and generally behave as a “good citizen”.
In addition, fleet operators will be considering the utility of the vehicle adopted, whether it fits their particular type of operations, and the availability of fueling infrastructure. A TCO analysis would only be one factor among all of these considerations.