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PHOTO CAPTION: EPA rates the Coda electric car at 88 miles per charge, currently the highest range available.

Which Electric Car Makes Most 'Cents'?

Dave Herron analyses the comparative costs of the current crop of plug-in cars.

Published: 15-Mar-2012

A Coda, a Focus Electric, an i-Miev, a Leaf, a Model S, and a Volt walk into a bar, the bartender asks them which offers the best value in electric cars, and they each point to themselves. While this falls flat as a joke, the electric automakers are following strategies that deliver a range of price and value tradeoffs. While environmental and energy security concerns are top issues for many prospective electric car owners, to reach the mainstream car buyer means delivering a powerful value proposition.

Because all the vehicles just named are more expensive than their non-electric counterparts, the value proposition becomes harder to grasp. The higher up-front cost has to be outweighed by savings on maintenance and fuel. It's been shown that electric cars are cheaper to fuel, both because electricity is a less expensive fuel than gasoline, and because electric cars are far more efficient with their energy than gasoline. But does that add up to making total cost of ownership less expensive? The answer to that depends on which way the price of gasoline goes.

In the meantime Coda Automotive's marketing team lists these five sales points as their big win over the other electric cars: Best in class driving range, Best in class range-per-dollar, Fast and easy recharging, Dependable range, and Superior battery technology.

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