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Electric Car Charging

A solar array can provide your vehicle's fuel forever.

A 3.0 kW solar system will power an electric car 9,000 to 12,000 miles per year.

All-Electric Vehicles: Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf will go 70-100 miles on a full charge. They do not have a gas motor for charging the batteries.

Plug-in Hybrids: Chevy Volt and Ford C-Max Energi have a small gas engine that will provide driving range beyond the electric range. The Volt will go about 40 miles on electricity before switching to gas power. The C-Max will go about 18 miles on electric.

Here's a recent project in Northport, Michigan that powers a Ford C-Max plug-in hybrid.

Electric Car Math

Electric cars are rated in miles per kilowatt-hour. The Leaf will go about 4 miles on a kwh of energy. The Volt and C-Max are larger and go about 3 miles on a kwh.

A kwh costs about 12 cents so it costs 3-4 cents per mile to drive an electric car.

A gas powered car that gets 36 miles per gallon costs about 8 cents per mile to drive (assuming gas is $2.90/gallon). So electric cars start out with a significant $/mile cost advantage.

A solar array that produces enough energy to power an electric car 12,000 miles per year would cost $7,500 to $10,000; $5,250 to $7,000 after tax credits.

Over 10 years, that would average $525 to $700 per year for "fuel". That's 4.4 to 5.8 cents per mile. After that, no cost for your electric "fuel".