Weekend: Gas versus electric driving

Print More

The competitors we chose were the Toyota Camry, 2013’s top-selling car in Minnesota, the Subaru Outback, top-selling sports utility vehicle of the same year, the Chevrolet Volt, and the Tesla Model S (with an 85 kilowatt hour battery pack). We started our routes from Fresh Energy’s office in downtown St. Paul. Other parameters we included: a commute frequency of once per year, an available, Level II (240 volt) charger at the destination, a parking/charging time of eight hours, and no cost to charge.

The Electric Vehicle Explorer is primarily intended to help you calculate costs related to your daily commute. For this exercise, we used specific data to roughly approximate the cost of a single weekend trip. We chose three trips within close distance of the Twin Cities that would not require refueling en-route.

While you probably guessed that the EVs would offer more bang for your buck, the extent of savings they provide may surprise you. Read on to see how much you could save on trips to Duluth, Wisconsin Dells, and Lanesboro.

The Tesla Model S is the clear winner on a trip from St. Paul to Duluth, coming in at just nine dollars for electricity. With full torque at all speeds and accelerating to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds, the Model S is likely to get you there first as well. The Chevrolet Volt comes in a distant second with a combined gasoline and electricity cost of 27 dollars. The Toyota Camry and Subaru Outback, which are totally gas-dependent, would cost you 41 dollars and 58 dollars, respectively, in fuel.


Again, if you’re traveling to the Wisconsin Dells, the Tesla Model S is the most cost-efficient choice with just 13 dollars spent in electricity. The Chevrolet Volt would cost you more than twice as much with a combined gas and electricity cost of 39 dollars, but it’s still more cost-efficient than the Toyota Camry at 57 dollars and the Subaru Outback at 79 dollars.


Once again, the Tesla Model S wins with a cost of just seven dollars to Lanesboro and back. At just over twice the price, you can make the trip in the Chevrolet Volt. The Toyota Camry and the Subaru Outback will make the trip for 32 dollars and 44 dollars, respectively.


The winner in cost efficiency in all three trips is the Tesla Model S, the only completely electric vehicle on the list.

Eleven different models of electric vehicles from eight different brands are currently available in Minnesota. Models available are: Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Ford Focus EV, Ford Fusion Energi, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ELR, Tesla Model S, Ford C-Max, Mitsubishi i-Miev, and Smart Electric Drive. Lease rates for the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-Miev, and Smart Electric Drive may start as low as 200 dollars per month.

Before you head out of town this weekend, take the Electric Vehicle Explorer for a test drive and calculate how much you could be saving with an electric vehicle.


Total cost of ownership for electric vehicles

Should Minnesota embrace plug-in vehicles?

EV trip planner

EV refueling finder (app)

EVs available in Minnesota (with detailed specs)

EV tourism white paper

Comments are closed.