From the Nissan Leaf to the Tesla Model S, electric cars have made a splash. In 2013, you could find a lot of articles online about the new fleet of electric cars. Now, a few years later, the media has turned to other things. Articles on owning electric cars are few and far between.

We wanted to answer the question: what does it really cost to own a 2016 Nissan LEAF? How does that cost compare to the cost of owning a gasoline-powered vehicle in the same class?

For the purposes of discussion, we’ll focus on the 2016 Nissan Leaf SV (one step up from the base model S). We’ll look at the cost of three areas: retail price, cost of power, and cost of maintenance. Let’s get started!

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A note on the financial numbers.

Tax rebates and tax credits function differently in different income situations. The above table treats tax rebates and tax credits identically for the purposes of illustration. The table is not tax advice. Consult your tax advisor to determine the final purchase price for a Nissan LEAF in your state and at your income level.

The incentive data does not include electric company rate incentives (where available) or incentives for installing home EV charging stations (where available). Some states, such as California, offer additional localized incentives. Approximate calculations were derived from editorial interpretation of the Nissan Incentive Calculator,  

How we calculated cost of power.

Here’s how we calculated the cost of driving a LEAF 12,000 miles. Based on a charge time of 6 hours at 240v, using 6.6kW per hour, it takes 39.6kWh to charge a LEAF. Given the average projected cost of electricity for 2016, $0.126/kWh, that’s $4.99 to charge your LEAF fully. That’s 107 miles of range for $4.99, or a cost of $0.047 per mile.

For the gasoline-powered cars, we based our calculations on an average 2016 gas price of $2.33/gallon, as projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Using this stat and the highway MPG advertised on each manufacturer’s website for each model, we calculated the cost of driving 12,000 miles under those conditions.

References and further reading:

Plug your state or zip code into Nissan’s incentive calculator, and you’ll see what incentives are available in your area: