Plug-in hybrids are in a close second, if driven mostly in EV mode.

According to the most recent comparison of the estimated annual fuel/electricity costs for 2021 model year cars in the U.S., plug-ins beat all the other options.

The report released by the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, compares all-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), hybrid (HEV), and conventional models, with a few assumptions:

  • estimates are based on combined city/highway fuel economy (EPA), accessed on January 29, 2021
  • 15,000 miles (24,000 km) annually
  • and the following fuel prices: $2.39 regular gasoline; $3.03 premium gasoline; $2.72 diesel; and $0.13 per kilowatt-hour electricity
  • all annual vehicle fuel costs are rounded to the nearest $50

The results are pretty similar to what we would expect and to the 2019 edition of the chart. The all-electric cars are on the top with annual fuel costs estimated at $500-$850. That's the lowest level that one can get, not even accounting for the fact that some new EVs come with a free charging package.

In the case of plug-in hybrids, the result is $600-$2,400, because a lot depends on the vehicle’s electric range and use case. Without charging they will be just like conventional hybrids (or even worse in many cases).

Next are hybrids, with 700-$3,250 cost. Here the EV range is usually low and some of the vehicles are performance models (electric motor is used as a boost of performance, rather than to improve the fuel economy).

Conventional models have from two to several times higher annual fuel expenses than electric cars.

Annual Fuel Cost Ranges by Technology Type, MY 2021 (vs MY 2019)

  • BEVs: $500-$850 (vs $500-$900)
  • PHEVs: $600-$2,400 (vs $600-$1,950)
  • HEVs: $700-$3,250 (vs $650-$2,500)
  • ICE (gasoline): $1,050-$4,900 (vs $1,000-$4,100)
  • ICE (diesel): $1,650-$2,350 (vs $1,150-$2,250)

Comparison

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"Notes: All annual vehicle fuel costs are rounded to the nearest $50. Annual fuel cost estimates are based on combined city/highway fuel economy, 15,000 annual miles, and the following fuel prices: $2.39 regular gasoline; $3.03 premium gasoline; $2.72 diesel; and $0.13 per kilowatt-hour electricity.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fuel Economy Data, accessed January 29, 2021."

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