Project Proposal: Electric vs. Gas Cars

Elizabeth Hill, Connor Baizan, and Tyler Cooksey
Math 216 Application Project
Professor Bruff

Electric cars have always been advertised as being the most cost efficient and ‘green’ car on the market but there are really no statistics that compare electric car costs and environmental impacts while taking all of the data into consideration. All of the current statistics display the average cost per mile but they don’t take into account onetime costs, like replacing the battery. Companies like Nissan, who produces the Nissan Leaf, estimate that the battery lasts between 5-10 years. Since the Nissan Leaf has only been around since 2010 there is no exact data confirming that statement. So for this project we will have to assume that Nissan’s estimate is correct. We will try and see if electric cars are truly more cost efficient by comparing these popular car models, Nissan Leaf, 2012 Chevy Volt, 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE, Ford Fusion, and KIA Optima.

Using the base model cost of each car found on each car’s respective website and data found on EPA’s website , each data set can be compared. We will also have to make a few assumptions about the cost of replacing a battery. Since these cars are so new there is no set price for a battery replacement, so again we will have to use estimates that the car companies have stated. In order to prove that the Nissan Leaf is in fact the most cost efficient car on the market we will use hypothesis testing. The null hypothesis is that all other cars have an efficiency less than or equal to Nissan Leaf’s efficiency and the alternate hypothesis is that the efficiency is greater than the Nissan Leaf. Another thing current statistics don’t take into account is the price of the car to begin with. Electric cars cost around $25,000 while a similar gasoline one costs around $18,000. So in order for electric cars to be truly more cost efficient they would have to save enough money to make up that difference. In order to collect statistics about initial costs of cars, similar sized cars will be researched and the resulting price of the base car will be used to create an average for electric and gasoline cars. On top of just the base cost of the car, the cost of gas or electricity for each car will also have to be factored in.

Another aspect that electric cars are known for is their ‘green’ factor. Companies that produce electric cars claim that the car has no emissions, but simply because the car itself doesn’t emit any emissions doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The power required to charge the battery is produced in a power plant, which produces emissions. There is no data that takes the power plant into account, so we want to see the rate of emissions per kWh power plants produce and then use that to find how many emissions are produced per mile. That will then be compared to the emissions rate of a gasoline powered car. A hypothesis test will then be used in order to prove which kind of car is really more ‘green’. The null hypothesis will be that the electric car emissions rate is less than the gasoline rate, and the alternate hypothesis is that the electric car rate is greater than or equal to the gasoline rate.

In conclusion, we are trying to figure out if, for the average consumer, an electric car is of good value, or if it’s merely hype, by way of hypothesis testing. We should be able to tell if it’s possible to save money by purchasing an electric car, and if it’s better for the environment as well.

EPA. (2012, 03 07). Test Car List Data Files. Retrieved 03 25, 2012, from United States Environmental Protection Agency:

2 thoughts on “Project Proposal: Electric vs. Gas Cars

  1. Hey,
    I happen to be writing a thesis on electric cars and i found your article really interesting. Its true that its hard to compare electric cars with petrol/gasoline cars. I was hoping you would have any sort of information/ stats or figures regarding electric cars compared to petrol cars. Any sort of help would be really appreciated. Please keep posting such interesting reads.Also I would love to have your opinion on the growth of the electric car industry in the MIddle East such as Dubai where the city has the means to build the industry but do you think that only when oil prices rise will it looks at such alternatives as the electric car?
    Thanks and regards,
    Gautham Venkatesan
    (High School Senior/Editor of Scholl Newsletter)

    • Hey Gautham,

      This project was not the most in-depth study, but we did get some results, and made an infographic that we posted at a later date on the site. You're welcome to see if this is helpful to you in any way.

      I don't personally know much about the electric car industry in the Middle East myself, but I don't think they have much incentive over there to switch to an electric car, considering how much of their wealth and industry is invested in petroleum and gasoline. At this point, they may view gasoline as a world necessity, and as the price goes up, they will try and milk it for all that it is worth. They will obviously have to invest in future technologies soon, to prevent becoming obsolete when electric cars become a standard, but right now electric cars are probably still a good five, ten years out from even being a quarter of the cars on the road.


      P.S. Here's the link to the infographic.

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