Electric Vehicles

The Non-Stop Savings of an Electric Fleet

January, 2019

Jeffrey W Lehman, PE
Customer Energy Solutions Lead
​American Electric Power

The cost savings are enormous … and that’s just the fuel

Forbes Magazine just said it bluntly: electric cars today are cheaper to own than gas-powered cars.

As I write this, the average cost of gas in the U.S. is $2.68/gallon. The annual average mileage for cars is 15,000 miles, so if your car gets an efficient 30 MPG, that’s 500 gallons of gas at a cost of $1,340. An electric car will drive the same distance for about 60 percent less than the cost of that gas: $536. Now, take that $800 savings and multiply it to every car in your fleet.

And remember: Gas prices are volatile. They fluctuate constantly. Electricity rates are regulated and stable, so you’ll always be confident in your electric fuel costs.

While the fleet sleeps, you could save more

Some utilities offer off-peak charging rates for overnight charging. The power demand on the grid is far lower at night … and so are the rates: in some cases, as low as 14 percent of the cost of the peak rate. At those prices, you’re recharging each car in your fleet for pennies. AEP and our operating companies are engaged in ongoing development efforts to bring more of these savings to more fleets in more service areas.

Far lower maintenance costs with only one moving part

Electric cars require virtually no maintenance. They don’t need oil changes, transmission fluid, fan belts, air filters, serpentine belts, head gaskets, cylinder heads, spark plugs, exhaust systems, starter motors or fuel injection systems. Their brakes last longer because of regenerative braking. In fact, an electric car motor has only one moving part: the rotor. That’s why most electric cars now have the same powertrain warranties as gas cars. Electric cars eliminate virtually all routine and maintenance items for fleets — while reducing parts inventories, labor costs and car downtime.

Plug into fleet management

Electric cars come equipped with more electronics and diagnostics than comparable gas cars. Fleet charging stations can provide data on every kilowatt used by your cars. With fleet management software, you can record your fuel costs, track your vehicles, and receive automatic reports about their performance and maintenance. You’ll know exactly what your fleet costs you — and how much you’re saving.

Know your fuel costs to the penny — in advance

The bottom line for an electric fleet is energy savings. What is the price of gas today? Tomorrow? In winter? Summer? During political upheavals or disasters? If gas is $2.50/gal today but $3.60 next week, the cost of fueling your fleet goes up 30 percent — in a week. But not with electric cars. Electricity is produced domestically and electric rates are usually government-regulated — and change slowly. Nationally, gas would have to drop to $1.10 per gallon to match the average “e-gallon” powering electric cars.

Electric cars are quickly catching up with gas cars in sticker price and driving range. But in terms of fleet economics, electric cars are zooming ahead of gasoline cars – silently, of course.