Dollar SignMore specifically, the cost of fueling our LEAF

We took delivery of our car on March 25, 2011. I have the good fortune of having a company car for work, and my wife has the good fortune of having a commute that consists of walking downstairs to her computer. So the LEAF for us is truly a “city car”. We use it to run errands, take the kids to school, see friends and family on the weekends, and just generally running around. So we have accumulated a relatively low number of miles compared to many others.

For those readers new to Living LEAF, when we took possession of our LEAF, SDG&E installed a second meter to which the only consumptive device attached downstream happens to be the charging dock for the LEAF. In this way, the local public utility provider can more precisely track electric vehicle (EV) power consumption in their market area, and more importantly for them, determine what charge rates should be associated with such devices and vehicles. They are currently running an EV experiment to see how and when owners will charge their cars. The advantage for us is that we can see precisely how much energy our LEAF consumes and how much it costs us to run.

We did not have the presence of mind to write down all of the pertinent information initially. But we can give you some interesting insights into our monthly costs, and into our cost per mile for at least one month so far. Keep in mind that your cost per mile will vary based on your average cost per kilowatt hour.

We have seen carloads of discussions about CARWINGS providing energy usage, and the LEAF having onboard computers showing all of this. We don’t really care about any of that stuff. All we care about is, how much does it cost? Plain and simple. This is what we’ve found out so far.

April 4 thru April 11 20 kwh $1.85 $.0925/kwh $1.85 cumulative cost
April 11 thru May 10 78 kwh $6.84 $.0877 $8.69
May 10 thru June 12 122 kwh $10.19 $.0835 $18.88
June 12 thru July 12 187 kwh $17.42 $.0932 $36.30

We can’t just total the kilowatt hours used and run it against the mileage as we charged on level 1 for the first three weeks or so of ownership. Those charge numbers will not show up on the above table, and we didn’t write down the LEAF odometer reading on April 4.

The only month that we can provide accurate mileage correlation is during the June 12 – July 12 time frame. On June 12 we had 1,109 miles on the clock. On July 12 it read 1,658. So for that month, We drove 549 miles and consumed 187 kilowatt hours of electricity at an average cost of $.0932 for an energy bill of $17.42 for the month. This gives us an average cost per mile of $.0317 in energy costs alone for that time frame.

So while we may not have exact numbers for the entire four months plus of ownership, we have decent numbers. Let’s say we spent another $10 on level one charging those first weeks. We would have spent less than $50 to drive 1,658 miles. If you are averaging 25 miles per gallon in your current ride, it would take over 66 gallons to get you that far. If you were lucky enough to average $3.50 per gallon during that same time frame (not likely), your gas bill would have come to $231.

While our cost per mile is higher than the $.026 cost projected by Popular Mechanics in an October 2010 article, we’re pretty happy with it. Apparently we have a heavier foot than the average LEAF driver.


  1. I’m really close to the Popular Mechanics estimate. We drove 3723 miles at a cost $98.91 in electric for a cost per mile of 0.0266.

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