Kate and the iMiev

Guest Post: Driving For Less Than A Loaf of Bread Per Day

For some people, the switch to electric vehicles is one brought about by a proclivity for exciting new technology, or the desire for a shiny/fast/sexy new car. For others, it’s all about the green transport. But for some, it comes down to a consideration of cold hard figures. Our family fell between these camps.

We’d long flirted with EVs; a brief and ultimately unsuccessful affair with a GWiz and an expensive and painful acquaintance with the car now known as the flux capacitor (it ended up in a flood whilst in our hands). But neither of these had been expensive to buy, and so the cost/benefit analysis had been easy.

Kate and the iMiev

Kate Walton-Elliott and her family’s i-Miev

But when it came to a decision between committing to maintaining our 20 year old family saloon for another few years or replacing it with some nebulous ‘new car’, our situation dictated that this should be a purchase based in financial reality, not in the vagaries of technology we think is ‘cool’. Together we sat down and ran the numbers.

Each and every bank statement for the past 2 years was pulled. Every garage expense, parts purchase, insurance cost, rail ticket, and tank of petrol was tallied. We looked at what journeys we did most, and what the actual range of our normal daily transport was. After days of research, the cost was in. It cost us approximately £4000/year ($7000) to run our car and for my partner to commute by rail. This is pretty impressive, since £4000  is about average for the U.K. just to run a second hand car.

But over two years this was marginally more than the purchase cost of a second hand, first generation, Mitsubishi iMiEV. Not only that, but my partner was commuting by rail, and the price of rail tickets in the U.K. was set to go up substantially. However, it left one thing from the calculation – how much would the electricity cost. We spoke to various people, including the Transport Evolved team, and it seemed that it would end up being a pretty marginal expense.

We decided to take the plunge, and two months on the bills have arrived, and we can unequivocally say yes, it’s a marginal expense.

Most UK (and US) suppliers offer reduced cost off-peak-usage electricity. Our supplier (Ovo) offers a ‘100% renewable’ tariff, that we’ve been on for the past two years, so our car really is powered by water, the sun and the wind; an option which costs us a little more than powering it on fossil fuels, at least at the moment. For comparison’s sake, our tariff charges approximately 16p/kWh (26¢) on peak and 8p/kWh (13¢) off peak. It’s a little difficult to isolate the overall change in cost, because when we first started charging, the charge-timer wasn’t set correctly, so it was charging on peak for at least an hour. Similarly our off peak plan for the dishwasher and washer/drier were out of sync with the actual off peak period.

But the graph tells the story pretty clearly

Energy consumption by month - our usage vs. average for our property type and size.

Energy consumption for our property by month

Our energy consumption for September (which, unfortunately, includes some of August’s usage) still fails to meet even the average for our size of property.

But how does the cost break down?

Even attributing all of the night-time electricity usage to the car, the cost comes in at just under 50p/day (80¢). Realistically, that includes running our washer/drier, our dishwasher, and the same few items on standby as in the day time. It equates to around 215kWh/month.

But  perhaps the real question is what is the cost per mile? Are we making out like petrol-free-bandits, or have we been suckered by the green lobby into an expensive toy?

Well, for the iMiEV, we cover around 26 miles in an average day, 5 days a week. That works out at a whopping, and prepare yourself for this: 2p/mile (4¢). Yes, £0.02/mile (and that includes doing our laundry and washing our dishes!). Granted that doesn’t include other running costs, like insurance, or tyres or the yearly service. But for a brief comparison, I took our petrol powered car on an 86 mile round trip yesterday. Despite being 44 years old, the car returns a real world 36mpg (29mpg US), and that cost me £15 ($24) in fuel. So in comparison our reasonably efficient small gas car cost us £0.17/mile ($0.27) – that doesn’t include doing any dishes or laundry either!

2010 iMiEV and a 1969 Morris Minor

At this point we could get into a complex debate about total cost of ownership, and lifetime energy usage, but all those debates have been happening elsewhere, and largely resolved. At this point, I think it’s safe to say, the iMiEV is the hands down winner.

Perhaps it’s time to convert the 44 year old car to a more cost efficient drivetrain.


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