I’m not that old, but I can still remember when things were a lot cheaper. I remember my Mom complaining about gas prices back then too.
I guess it’s all relative. I’ll leave the theory of inflation, and how the prices are relatively the same given the value of the dollar, to the economists. I’m only interested in the “ouch” I feel when I pull up to the pump.
Back during the summer when gas prices were way out of control, I was thinking about how much money I could save if my car ran on something other than gas. I started looking into the possibilities.
I quickly decided that the claims about being able to run your car on hydrogen generated by water tanks under the hood were a bit ahead of their time.
And although the thought of running my car on waste oil from my nearest fast food joint sounded promising, I couldn’t imagine it being a viable solution when I was driving across the Painted Desert with the family on vacation. Plus, I’d always feel hungry.
But electricity? Now that was something that intrigued me. There are school districts that operate electric buses, and if you’ve ever encountered a trolley on the Green Line in Boston, you’ve seen electricity powering a pretty good-sized engine. So why not an electric car?
It’s not like it’s impossible. Tesla Motors makes a pretty impressive electric Roadster that goes from 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds and gets up to 300 miles from one charge. But at $128,500, I’m not going to know the pleasure of sitting behind the wheel of that electric car anytime soon.
So that left me with looking for a way to convert my existing chariot into an electric car. Well, actually, it left me wondering whether or not it was even worth looking into converting my existing chariot into an electric car. Turns out, it just might be.
The U.S. government is offering a 10% energy credit toward the actual cost of converting your gasoline car to an electric car, with a maximum cap of $4,000. And if you live in California, or any of the other states that are pushing hard to reduce their smog levels, you can qualify for a lot of financial incentives.
California, for example, offers discounted electricity rates for your electric car battery charger; automobile insurance discounts; and even access to the carpool lanes (a BIG plus in L.A.), even if you’re the only person in the car.
And then there’s the gasoline savings.
Let’s say that your car gets 25 MPG highway and gasoline costs $4.00 per gallon where you live. Electricity costs you.10 per Kilowatt Hour (KWH) convert kilowatts to horsepower.
OK. So you’re driving along at a steady 50 MPH (not on the Santa Monica Freeway!) and your conservative Ford Taurus is cranking out about 40 horsepower (HP). Let’s do the math:
746 Watts = 1 HP. So, driving one hour at 50 MPH consumes 29.84 KWH of electricity, or 2 gallons of gasoline.
At $0.10/ per KWH, your cost is $2.98 for electricity, or $8.00 for 2 gallons of gas.