WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- Drivers of electric vehicles such as General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf may save as much as $1,200 a year compared with operating a new gasoline-powered compact car, scientists studying improved fuel economy found.
With gasoline at $3.50 a gallon, drivers who plug cars into electrical outlets would save $750 to $1,200 a year instead of buying gasoline for a new car that gets 27 miles (43 kilometers) a gallon when driving 11,000 miles a year, the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a study released today.
"While in this early electric vehicle market these products have higher up-front costs, knowing how much one can save by using electricity instead of gasoline is an important factor for consumers," the study by the Cambridge, Mass.-based group said.
Ford Motor Co., maker of a Focus electric car scheduled to go on sale this year, said last month the price will start at $39,995 before a $7,500 U.S. tax credit. Nissan's Leaf starts at $35,200.
The Focus costs more than the $16,500 base price for the gasoline-powered version, Eddie Fernandez, a spokesman for Ford, said in an e-mail. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the fuel economy of the Focus SFE, a gasoline-powered model, at 33 mpg for city and highway driving. The electric Focus was certified by the U.S. Environmental Agency to offer the equivalent of 105 mpg.
Edmunds.com, an auto-researcher, predicts electric vehicles may reach only 7 percent of U.S. auto sales by 2017 even when consumers take rising gas prices into account.
The average U.S. gas price was $3.91 as of Sunday, according to U.S. motorist group AAA. That's a 19 percent increase so far this year.