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Electric Cars vs Gasoline Ones: How Efficient They Are In Comparison

Let’s look at the efficiency of electric cars and compare them with gasoline-powered vehicles. Are EVs as efficient as they are claimed to be?

When talking about electric cars, first of all, one of their main advantages is energy efficiency, which saves money. Traditionally an EV is considered to be a good purchase in terms of lower running costs. Autocar has studied the topic and shared it with readers.

Electric vs gasoline/petrol

Electric powertrains surpass conventional internal-combustion engines by efficiency. Even a very good gasoline engine converts only around 40 percent of energy in the fuel into work, while 60 percent of the heat converted from gasoline is wasted.

Electric motors, in contrast to gasoline engines, convert more than 90 percent of electricity into useful work. So, they are obviously more economical, especially given the fact an electric motor can recover some energy by generating electricity when the vehicle slows down.

According to a GGE formula (‘gasoline gallon equivalent’), one Imperial gallon of gasoline equates to about 40 kWh of electricity. The fuel consumption of a car with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine is approximately 55 miles per gallon, so, 1.6 gallons should be enough to cover the distance of 88 miles.

An electric car of a similar size with a 64-kWh battery pack (useable charge) consumes roughly the same amount of energy as 1.6 gallons of gasoline. So, this vehicle with this battery capacity can travel nearly 236 miles at a realistic 3.7 mi/kWh, and its energy efficiency figure is 64 kWh : 236 miles = 0.271 kWh/mile.

88 miles against 236 miles is a significant difference of 148 miles becoming possible due to the efficiency of the electric powertrain and energy recovery through regenerative braking.

What about HEVs and PHEVs?

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are more fuel-efficient than gasoline vehicles but less efficient than pure electric cars. Automakers constantly improve the fuel economy of such vehicles in various ways: by recovering energy through regenerative braking or by running the combustion engine in more optimal operating cycles for less fuel consumption. 

2 comments on “Electric Cars vs Gasoline Ones: How Efficient They Are In Comparison

  1. Floram says:

    That comparison is absolute nonsense.
    It is a comparison of apples and potatoes.

    From where do you start? Gasoline/Petrol is a hydrocarbon. Electricity has first to be made usually form hydrocarbons. The E-motor efficiency of ~ 90 % or 10 % loss is what the Gasoline/Petrol counterpart does not have.
    So, in rough terms the Gasoline/Petrol engine is always ahead in overall efficiency.

    Wind turbines are ~ 20% efficient from the wind and Solar cells only about 3%. The gasoline/petrol engine is clearly higher in converting raw energy into useful work. Often the 40% efficiency from gasoline is exceeded in today’s engine conversion rate.

  2. Mike Miller says:

    2 items were conveniently? left out. The COST of that 40kWh whether it be gasoline or electricity, and the efficiency loss of charging the batteries.
    I wont show the math here, but using $2.17 per gallon from a more sane administration and $.1492 average cost per kWh per a Google search, an average battery charging efficiency of 80% per a Google search, everything else from the article above, and assuming 12,000 miles per year. the average monthly savings with an EV is $7.84. Not hardly worth the upfront cost and inconvenience IMO.
    Why is it so close? Cause also left out was the efficiency loss at the power plant to generate electricity, thus making the energy used by a gas versus electric car very similar.

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