Responsible Battery Coalition and University of Michigan Announce Study to Compare Electric and Gas Vehicle Lifetime Costs

October 26, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Responsible Battery Coalition (RBC) today announced the launch of a comprehensive research project with the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems to compare the total cost of ownership of gas and electric vehicles (EVs).

“The Responsible Battery Coalition is dedicated to developing and sharing the latest scientific resources to help Americans understand the impact of electrifying the transportation sector,” said Steve Christensen, Executive Director of RBC. “This independent, comprehensive study will build on our Green Principles and help the RBC better understand the current consumer costs of not yet achieving a circular economy for EV batteries.”

“Our research partnership with RBC will enable us to conduct a more in-depth analysis of EV costs in comparison with internal combustion engine vehicles by considering vehicle type, user behavior, and where the vehicle is purchased and operated,” said Dr. Gregory Keoleian, Director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan. “For example, we will account for regional differences in the total cost of ownership related to charging installation costs, electricity and gasoline costs, temperature effects on fuel economy, and insurance as well as federal and state EV incentives and policies.”

The study will address common questions related to electric vehicle ownership:

  • What are the primary contributing factors to vehicle ownership cost?
  • Where, when and for whom are EVs most cost-effective?
  • What government policies may be most impactful for lowering EV costs?

“This research will tell us if, in addition to emissions savings, EVs have cost-parity with conventional internal combustion engine vehicles over their lifetimes, including recycling considerations for EV batteries,” said Steve Christensen.

Understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an EV, and not just initial purchase price, is becoming an increasingly important factor in consumer decision-making.  The TCO of a vehicle includes not just additional upfront costs, such as customized accessories, upgraded power systems to extend vehicle range, taxes, and other fees, but also longer-term operating costs, including fuel, maintenance, repairs, and insurance. The lack of clear comparisons between the two vehicle options – EV or internal combustion – is one factor slowing down widespread adoption of EVs, and therefore decarbonization, because consumers are unable to make accurate cost comparisons.

The UM/RBC research project seeks to fill this information gap for consumers, and will also take into account regional factors that have not been thoroughly investigated before, including:

  • Impact of local climate on vehicle fuel economy.
  • Refueling patterns based on driver time valuation.
  • Projections of future gasoline and electricity prices.
  • Anticipated driving patterns.

Additionally, the research team will evaluate the carbon reduction potential of EVs and calculate the social cost of carbon using regional greenhouse gas emissions estimates developed by the Center for Sustainable Systems and Ford Motor Company.

The first phase of the study is scheduled to be completed in December 2022, with results from 14 select cities across the US available to the public shortly after peer review. The second phase will run from January through December 31, 2023.


The RBC is a coalition of companies, academics, and organizations committed to the responsible management of the batteries of today and tomorrow. Members include: Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Clarios, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, Honda, Li-Cycle, O’Reilly AutoParts, and Terracycle. RBC was created in April 2017 to advance the responsible production, transport, sale, use, reuse, recycling and resource recovery of transportation, industrial and stationary batteries and other energy storage devices. Learn more about the RBC.