Lyft’s guide to the transportation revolution

EV buying tip #5: The higher the MPGe, the more efficient the EV

Bryan Gardiner - Apr 24, 2023
EV Buying Top #5 Image Header
Illustration by Betsy Falco

Just because EVs are vastly more energy-efficient than cars with combustion engines doesn’t mean that all EVs are created equal. To understand just how efficient your EV is, you’ll want to scope outits MPGe. 

While the metric can be confusing at first, the main thing to know is that, like MPG (miles per gallon of gasoline), MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) is meant to be a measure of how far your EV can go on a given quantity of “fuel,” in this case: electricity. Where things get confusing is that, unlike internal combustion vehicles, EVs expend energy while moving and while sitting unused. For example, many models lose about 1 percent of their battery’s state of charge every day they sit in a driveway. MPGe accounts for all the energy expended by the vehicle, so it’s not strictly an apples-to-apples comparison.  To calculate MPGe, the EPA decided that one gallon of gasoline is more or less equivalent, energy-wise, to 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity. But while it’s easy to think of how many miles your car can go on a gallon of gas, it’s a bit more abstract to think of how many miles it can go on 33.7 kWh of electricity. 

Nevertheless, MPGe does offer a quick and useful way to compare how efficient an EV is because it’s directly linked to how much it costs to charge up the vehicle and how much power it needs to draw from the grid to top off its battery. As a general rule, anything higher than 100 MPGe is above average.   

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