EV Versus Gas SUV: By the Numbers
2016 Subaru Forester: Holds 534 kilowatt hours of energy. About 464 miles of range. That’s .868 miles per kWh.
2014 Toyota RAV4 EV: Holds 40 kWh of energy. About 144 miles of range. That’s 3.6 miles per kWh of energy.
I am going to lay out some information about electric cars in a way you probably haven’t seen before.
There are two cars in my household: One is a 2016 Subaru Forester (base engine with a continuous variable transmission). It’s all-wheel-drive like all Subaru vehicles. It’s rock-solid in rain and snow.
The other is my 2014 Toyota RAV 4 EV. It has front-wheel drive and requires a more deft hand in rain. I’ve never driven it in snow. It’s a bit roomier inside than the Forester. It also will hand the Forester its ass in a quarter-mile. The electric motor spins up at a rate the Forester can’t match with its CVT.
These vehicles are similar in size and weight. That makes them perfect for comparing an EV versus gas SUV.
Crunching Numbers: EV Versus Gas SUVs
But you absolutely wouldn’t believe the difference in energy capacity and efficiency. I say “energy capacity” because clearly only the Forester can carry fuel as we know it.
After a trip to the gas station, the Forester has 534 kilowatt-hours of energy on board. That’s based on the calculation that a gallon of gas is equivalent to 33.4 kWh of electricity.
The RAV4, on the other hand, has 40 kWh of electricity after charging fully.
The Forester can go about 464 miles based on the car’s calculation that my wife averages about 29 miles per gallon. I have to say, 29 miles per gallon is solid for an all-wheel drive vehicle its size.
The RAV4 will go about 144 miles on its 40 kWh battery, based on its historical record showing an average of about 3.6 miles per kWh.
Let’s put it another way — by looking at how many miles each of these vehicles goes on 1 kWh of energy:
Subaru Forester: .868 miles per kWh
Toyota RAV4 EV: 3.6 miles per kWh
That makes the RAV4 EV 4.147 times more efficient in energy use than the Forester. When it comes to the EV versus gas question, it’s not even close.
Old EV Tech Beats New Gas Tech
Keep in mind, the RAV4 EV is generations behind in its technology. It doesn’t have adaptive cruise control or seats that automatically adjust to a driver’s profile. There’s no “infotainment” to speak of. It doesn’t have fast charging.
Its utilitarian body, though, has more usable interior room (more than 73 cubic feet) than a Tesla Model Y, Ford Mach E, Nissan Ariya or VW ID4. It’s listed as having 5.9 inches of ground clearance, but I don’t think that’s remotely accurate. The regular RAV4 is listed as 6.3 inches; I know the EV version was lowered for efficiency, but it wasn’t lowered that much.
Though its battery is small by current standards, the RAV4 EV is still impossible to beat as a city car. It’s easy to park, yet can handle all the hardware store runs you can throw at it. Toyota made a huge mistake by dabbling in hydrogen power instead of pure EVs.
The Impact of at Least One EV
Two-car families aren’t unusual. And if you have one electric car, you’re still going to cut your costs significantly. There are plenty of places to charge cars for free – and charging overnight at your home is convenient and cheap (overnight rates are amazing).
I know some people can’t make this happen. They live in apartments without outlets in the parking lot. Or they live in some far-flung ranch.
These are niche cases. Most people average less than 40 miles per day. Plus more workplaces have free charging – and chances are, you can at least find a 110-volt outlet in every parking garage so you can at least some juice during your work hours.
I also wind up driving the family around in the RAV on nights and weekends. That means the Forester gets fuel maybe once a month. It’s a huge difference.
Any two-car household needs to think seriously about an EV next time it’s time to replace one of the current occupants of its garage.