Assessing the costs and emissions of operating a conventional gas or diesel fueled vehicle with an electric vehicle often involves a complete life cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions. This process requires assumptions as to the energy mix to produce electricity, and the consumer cost of electricity and gasoline. Further, theses factors are far from static and must undergo dramatic changes if economies are to progressively decarbonize as required to limit future surface warming to less than 2 degrees C. Implementation of carbon pricing will drive up gasoline and diesel prices. A shut down of coal fueled power plants will decrease the intensity of emissions from the production of electricity.
Concern is often expressed as to the increase in the costs of gasoline and diesel and the financial impact to the consumer following the implementation of effective carbon pricing mechanisms. The point of carbon pricing is drive changes in practice to lower cost, lower emissions options. With the emergence of competitively priced EVs, the economic advantages and emissions abatement potential of operating an EV will become motivators for switch over to electric vehicles. These advantages should be described to consumers as clearly and accurately as possible. By simplifying the description to a comparison of similar sized vehicles and selecting a reasonable cost of fuel and electricity it becomes possible to make realistic comparisons of operating costs. By restricting emissions calculations to tailpipe emissions no assumptions as to energy mix for power production or source of fossil fuels (oilsands or conventional oilfield) are needed. The consumer see direct and accurate data on what it cost to operate the vehicle and what comes out of the tailpipe (if there is a tailpipe). The advantages in terms of operating costs and emissions abatement are clearly evident and should begin to influence consumer preferences for automobile options.
At $1.05/L gasoline cost and $0.11 kWh residential electricity cost, the charging costs of driving a Chevy Bolt for 1 year covering 18,000 km will be $984 less than the cost of fueling a Honda Civic and will avoid 2.8 metric tonnes of tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions.