Zero Plus A Good (?) Amount

It’s been a little while now:

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So I’ve racked up well over a thousand miles on the Zero S.  I didn’t plug the bike into a separate meter, so I don’t have a number on the electricity consumption.  Depending on city versus highway use, that could be anywhere from 90-190 kWh respectively.  I’ll guess it was toward the lower end of the range, since I use the motorcycle for commuting.

Now, how much is that in dollars?  Assuming 13 cents per kWh (the national average rate, rounded up), I went 1234 miles for… less than a twenty.  Probably a few dollars less.

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That’s right, many weeks of transportation easily covered by a $20- thank you, Andrew Jackson!  In economic terms, assuming gas at $3.60 a gallon, my vehicle got the dollar equivalent of at least 220 miles per gallon, and probably more.  Zero advertizes the machine as having an EPA-rated 273 miles per gallon equivalent, highway, and much more (400+) city.  That’s an energy-based rating, not a per-dollar figure.  Though, to be honest, the conversion starts to break down once you reach into the triple digits.  An MPGe rating of over 250 might as well be a jillion, let alone a 400 rating (a gajillion?  Godzillion?).

And now you know why I didn’t put my bike on a separate meter.  It just doesn’t matter.  The per-mile cost is negligible- a rounding error on my monthly electricity bills.  I’ve spent around as much in parking meters as on the electricity- and I’m being completely serious, unlike some car ads.

In fact, let’s do the math- well under twenty dollars, at 1234 miles, is under two cents per mile (specifically, well under 1.7 cents).  By contrast, the average passenger vehicle in the U.S. gets about 25 miles per gallon.  If you assume $3.60/gallon (not high-octane, or diesel), that’s over fourteen cents per mile.  Drivers needing 91 pay noticeably more.  Of course, that’s for the U.S. fleet as a whole, which is overwhelmingly cages.  If you assume motorcycles get 50 mpg, the cost is still more than seven cents a mile ($0.072).  That’s over four times what I pay- and that’s just the “fuel.”  I haven’t even gotten started mentioning oil changes, a valvetrain, clutch and tranny work, coolant, etc.  (By the way, my previous gasser bikes had been air-cooled, and got nowhere near 50 MPG on most trips due to cold starts.)

This jibes with the experience in electric cars: you can start by assuming your “fuel” costs will fall to one quarter from 87 gas.  You might save even more, depending on your personal style and area roads.  And of course, this is assuming 12-13 cents per kWh.  Your utility may offer below-average rates, particularly a night rate, which is when most people will be charging.  I’ve heard of a utility in my region offering under six cents at night, and I know at least one utility got down to five.  Would you like your fuel budget to fall by an order of magnitude?  Would you like a Benjamin right about now?

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