Electric Cars for Earth Day: How Much You Can Really Save

Posted on 04/18/2013

Can you imagine never having to stop at a gas station, never having to see the gas needle point to "E," and never having to sanitize your hands after touching those germy gas pumps? Electric cars are becoming more attainable and reliable, but how much can you really save compared to conventional models or hybrids? Here are some top picks for electric cars under $40,000. You could be driving one in time for Earth Day.

Chevrolet Volt
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt gives drivers 40 miles of all-electric driving range. Edmunds.com says the Chevrolet Volt is ideal for drivers with an average 30-mile commute who can plug it in for a charge nightly. Those with longer commutes will be forced to rely on a backup fuel supply to handle the distance.

Nissan Leaf
When it's fully charged the Nissan Leaf is reported to give drivers 100 miles of fuel-free travel. You can purchase them for as low as $21,300, but that's after the federal tax savings.

Toyota Prius Plug-In
The Toyota Prius has long been a favorite choice of hybrid buyers, but recently Toyota came out with a plug-in version. The 2013 model starts at $32,000 with an estimated 95 miles per charge. After that it gets 50 miles per gallon. However, a reviewer at Cars.com says the sticker price may not be worth the savings. He saved less than $2 on his morning commute to work. Even if the battery has juice the car will use fuel at higher speeds or during acceleration.

Ford C-MAX Energi
The 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi starts at $32,950. The free MyFordMobile app helps you check your car's charging status no matter where you are. The app will also help you locate a charging station, start the car remotely and set it to charge during scheduled hours. Ford says you should be able to travel 21 miles on a full charge, which isn't as far as other plug-in vehicles promise.

Tax Credit
Buying an electric vehicle will also earn you a tax credit of $7,500. You may also be eligible for state credits depending on where you live. This is a nice additional perk for going green.

Electric Car Calculator
Still wondering if an electric car is worth the cost? Check out this free Electric Car Calculator at BeFrugal.com. It will consider your driving habits, gas prices and the price of electricity to help you determine whether going green is a cost-saving move.

By Alison Storm

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