Running an electric vehicle on Los Angeles Department of Water and Power juice is cheaper on average than fueling up an old-school gas ride, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes.

That conclusion was unveiled ahead of Friday's public opening of the L.A. Auto Show downtown. Report co-author David Reichmuth says the savings were calculated through the end of October — before the state's new, 12-cent gas tax went into effect Nov. 1 — meaning that the savings for electric car owners probably are even greater.

The union's report, titled “Going From Pump to Plug,” found that plugging into DWP electricity will save drivers an average of $571 a year compared with gassing up at the pump for a traditional fuel vehicle. EV motorists living in areas served by Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric would save even more: $884 and $571, respectively, according to the analysis.

Overnight charges under special plans for EV plug-ins can cost as little as the equivalent of $1.78 per gallon in parts of Los Angeles, researchers found. The average price of a gallon of gas earlier this week was pegged at $3.22 for Los Angeles County, according to pump comparison site

Electric vehicles are still relatively expensive to purchase, however, meaning those savings can be eaten up by the fashionable choices consumers make at the dealership. However, Reichmuth notes that EVs are getting less expensive — the Nissan Leaf is priced from about $30,680, less than the average car purchase price of $34,968 — and they can be cheaper to maintain.

Lease rates are relatively affordable — a Prius electric can be had for $259 per month with a sizable upfront payment — and California offers rebates of up to $2,500 for buyers and lessors. California regulations mean more and more of our electric power is clean and renewable. “In California, the emissions for driving electric are equivalent to 95 miles per gallon in a gasoline car, and it's getting better,” Reichmuth says.

“I think there are environmental benefits, but it's also about saving money on fuel, maintenance, time going to gas stations, getting oil changes,” he says. “Ideally we want to pique people's interest and have people look at electric vehicles for their next car purchase.”

Annual savings for charging electric vehicles compared to fueling up petrol cars; Credit: Union of Concerned Scientists

Annual savings for charging electric vehicles compared to fueling up petrol cars; Credit: Union of Concerned Scientists

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