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eGallon and Electric Vehicle Sales: The Big Picture

August 19, 2013 - 8:30am

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eGallon: Compare the costs of driving with electricity

What is eGallon?

It is the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline.

Did you know?

On average, it costs about 3 times less to drive an electric vehicle.

Editor's Note: This post was edited to reflect the most current gasoline price figures.

For certain markets, time of year has a distinct effect on prices and/or sales volumes. For instance, sales of Halloween favors tend to be high in October and decline in November. But that drop in sales doesn’t spell doom for candy and costume shops. Similarly, falling peach harvests between August and October don’t say much about the overall health of the orchards. This seasonality is why we often look at year-on-year growth instead of month-to-month growth to determine market dynamics.

July exhibits some of that same seasonality for the electric vehicle (EV) market. Taken in this context, both the EV market and eGallon are performing extremely well.

Gasoline prices rise, eGallon edges up

Just like gasoline, the eGallon price tends to rise with the summer heat. This mostly results from increased electricity use associated with air conditioning. But despite this, the eGallon to gasoline ratio has held steady at about a 1:3 -- meaning that a gallon of unleaded gasoline is about three times as expensive as an eGallon. The average eGallon price for the country, which is based on May’s electricity prices, is now about $1.22 -- four cents higher than last month. Since our last eGallon update, gasoline prices have actually jumped about 7 cents to $3.56 -- though they too are down compared to this time last year. Use our eGallon tool at the top of the page to see gasoline and eGallon prices for your state.

2013 continues to build strength

Last month’s sales for plug-in electric vehicles were also robust, keeping America on track for a strong year. Americans bought 147 percent more EVs in July 2013 than July 2012 -- that's more than twice as many as last July. Although these numbers don’t quite match June’s record highs, there is good reason to believe that the slight retreat in sales was seasonal. In 2011, EV sales dropped by more than half from June to July. In 2012, they dropped by about 10 percent -- despite the fact that the market tripled in size. So the fact that EV sales retreated about 15 percent from June to July during 2013 shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

As for raw numbers, the Nissan Leaf topped the plug-in charts with 1,864 sales. But the Chevy Volt was right behind, selling almost 1,800 cars. Tesla’s Model S also sold at a steady clip, beating the company’s own forecasts for the second quarter of 2013. Using our interactive graph, you can see how EV sales have progressed since their introduction in 2010.

And ... 80 percent love their EVs

One explanation for the continued strength of the U.S. EV market can be found in the overwhelmingly positive customer experience. A recent survey by JD Power and Associates showed that more than 80 percent of EV owners intend to purchase another EV of the same brand in the future. This is compared to under 50 percent brand loyalty for traditional vehicles -- yet another strong showing for America’s world-leading EV market.

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