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Ford F-150 deep dive: The cost of owning gas vs. electric trucks

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Because we love a good rabbit hole here at Pickup Truck + SUV Talk, Publisher Tim Esterdahl’s recent treatise on why electric trucks will have difficulty gaining mass adoption sent us on a deep dive of looking at gas vs. electric trucks. 

Specifically, Esterdahl said electric trucks “cost more.” While he’s referring to time costs as well as financial expenditures, we figured we should really dig into the actual expenses associated with gas vs. electric trucks and see where the chips fall.

Since the Ford F-150 is the only full-size truck to have both, that’s the truck we’re using for our rabbit hole exploration. Because vehicle prices keep climbing (in fact, Ford just raised the price of the base Lightning by $7k), the new Inflation Reduction Act confuses EV tax credits, and it’s a given that the EV will cost more than the gasoline model, we’re skipping the up-front cost-to-buy analysis and jumping right into “fuel” and maintenance costs. 

We are using Nebraska as our “home base” since that’s more middle American than someplace like, say, Chicago. One other assumption we’re using: That most Americans are driving about 15,000 miles per year. 

So, grab your mad hat and get ready to jump.

“Fuel” costs of gas vs. electric trucks

For our purposes, we’re looking at daily driving – not road trips or towing. So, this means your regular trips to the gas station and overnight charging. 

In Nebraska, at the time of writing this article, the current cost of gas is $3.67 per gallon. Looking at EPA fuel economy numbers, the F-150 with the 3.3-liter engine averages 20 MPG and with the 2.7-liter engine averages 21 MPG. Therefore, the former will glug through 750 gallons of gas in a year, and the latter will eat up 714.29 gallons. So, annual cost will be between $2,752.50 and $2,621.44, depending on the model.

For the electric number, after consulting some EV experts I settled on getting 2 miles per kWh. Using the 15k miles number, that means an average consumer would use about 7,500 kWh per year. The current cost of at-home charging in Nebraska is $0.11 per kWh, so the annual cost to charge would be $820.

That’s an annual difference of $1,932.50 for the 2.7-liter XLT and $1,801.44 for the 3.3-liter XLT. 

Maintenance costs

This is where things get interesting. We pulled the maintenance schedules from the owners’ manuals of both the Lightning and regular F-150, and to keep things equal, we went to a Nebraska Ford dealer and asked for associated costs. But even without looking at the prices, it’s easy to see the Lightning will cost less to maintain because it requires less regular maintenance overall. Specifically, there are 30k, 60k, 100k and 150k mileage maintenance items for the gas F-150 that just aren’t needed on the Lightning. So, over 10 years, you’re looking at $1,352 in scheduled maintenance for the Lightning versus $4,188 for the gas F-150.

 Ford F-150 XLT LightningFord F-150 XLT
Cost to "fuel up" per year820$2,752.50/$2,621.44
Twice yearly maintenanceX$50 Package Deal
Oil changeX
Change the engine oil and filterX
Rotate tiresX
Perform multi-point inspectionX
Ispect transmission fluidX
Inspect brake padsX
Inspect engine coolant systemX
Inspect exhaust systemX
Inspect the front axle & U-jointsX
Inspect half-shaft bootsX
Inspect steering linkageX
Inspect wheelsX
Annual Maintenance$39 Package DealX
Rotate tiresX
Multi-point inspectionX
Inspect brake padsX
Inspect cooling systemX
Inspect halfshaft bootsX
Inspect steering linkageX
Inspect wheelsX
Every 3 Years (45k)
Change brake fluid149149
Every 20k miles
Replace the cabin air filter4545
At 30k miles
Replace the engine air filterX25
Replace the engine-mounted & frame mounted fuel filtersX150
At 60k miles
Replace spark plugsX250
Inspect accessory drive beltsXFree
At 100k miles
Replace accessory drive beltsX50
Replace spark plugsX250
Inspect accessory drive beltsXFree
At 150k miles
Change automatic transmission fluid & filterX228
Change front & rear axel fluidX165
Change the transfer case fluidX73
Replace the accessory drive beltsX285
At 10 years
Change transmission fluid200X
At 200k miles
Change battery the coolant200X
Change the engine coolantX185

Time costs

This is a tricky one because time is a very subjective cost. Some people would rather spend time than money, and others think the extra expenditures associated with gas vehicles are worth it. In his article, he pointed to the fact you’d have to spend 30 to 60 minutes to charge at a public station. But assuming people who buy an electric truck will also fork out the cash for an at-home charging station, the amount of time you’d need a public charger is minimal, whereas, if you own a gas truck, you’ll likely spend 10 minutes a week (520 minutes a year) at a gas station fueling up.

That’s about 9 hours a year you’ll spend at a gas station. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a person in Nebraska is $66,401 per year, which breaks down to $31.92 per hour (or a depressing $0.532 per minute). So, if time is money, that’s about $287.28 per year.

Using the same hourly rate, let’s now factor in the cost of getting maintenance done. Let’s start with oil changes. According to Jiffy Lube, that’s a 20- to 45-minute job. So, we’ll split the difference and say it’ll take 32 minutes twice a year. That’s another $34.05 per year.

Thus, in a year, you’ll spend $321.33 in fuel-up and maintenance time on a gas model verses, maybe, $17.02 for the annual maintenance of the Lightning. 

But, that’s not accounting all the scheduled maintenance you’ll have over a 10-year period with the gasoline model you won’t have with the electric version, namely the 30k, 60k, 100k and 150k services. Let’s say, each check-up lasts an hour and a half (insert hysterically laughing emoji); that’s 30 hours* you’ll spend throughout 10 years waiting on maintenance to be complete, equaling an additional $957.60. So, for 10 years of time fueling up and waiting on maintenance, you’re looking at $4,170.90.

For the EV, assuming 100% at-home charging, you’re looking at 21.5 hours for all maintenance over 10 years and time spent worth $686.28.

The cost of a road trip

For giggles, let’s say you do decide to take one 1,000-mile road trip a year, that’s about the distance from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Orlando, Florida. For the entire trip, total distance will be about 2,000 miles.

For the Lightning, assuming you’ll get up to 80% charge in 44 minutes, you’re looking at a total of 11 stops with the standard-range battery and eight with the long-range battery. Using the Nebraska hourly wage again, that’s $257.49 and $186.26, respectively, just for your time. 

Going back to the 2 miles per kWh we referenced above, you’ll use about 1,000 kWh for this trip, and with places like Electrify America charging $0.43 per kWh, that means you’ll pay $430 for “fuel.” So, the entire trip will cost you between $687.49 and $616.20, depending on your battery. 

OK, now to the gas F-150. Using the EPA estimates again, you’ll get 483 or 460 miles per tank, with a 23-gallon tank. So, to be safe, you’ll probably stop five times to fill up. At 10 minutes a pop, that’s about $26.60 for your time. You’ll use about 100 gallons of gas for the 3.3-liter engine and 95 gallons for the 2.7-liter engine. Using the national average of $3.90 for gas this time, you’ll spend between $390 and $370.50 for fuel for the trip. So, the entire trip will cost you between $416.60 and $397.10, depending on your engine. 

For a road trip, that’s more than $200 less for the gas model per year.

Adding up the numbers

Now that we’ve thrown a lot of numbers at you, your eyes are probably blurring a bit. Ours are. So, let’s break it down and do some math. 

First let’s start with the time cost because that seems to be a pain point for a lot of people. The only time you lose time when owning an EV is when you’re going to be taking a road trip. For people who have two vehicles, one of which is a gas model, this becomes a non-issue. But if you’re going to take your EV to Florida, the cost of “fuel” will be similar between EV charging and pumping gas, but it’ll take an extra 6 to 8 hours for charging time, which we’d say amounts to about $200. Only you can decide if that’s a cost you’re willing to pay.

In terms of maintenance, the EV is the hands-down cost winner because you have annual maintenance, 20K, 3-year and 10-year services. That’s it. So, over 10 years, you’ll pay $2,836 more in maintenance for the gas model.

Fuel costs, however, are going to be the humdinger because you’re looking at just less than $30k over 10 years for the gas model, and just more than $8k for the EV. 

In the table below, we’ve looked at both fuel and maintenance costs for 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 years, comparing the Lightning to both the 3.3-liter and 2.7-liter engined F-150s. The last two columns show the cost differences per year of the gas vs. electric trucks. In the end after 10 years, taking time out of the equation, the gasoline trucks will cost $19,434.50 – $20,745 more to “fuel up” and maintain than the electric Lightning.

 LightningF-150 w/ 3.3LF-150 w/ 2.7LLightning v 3.3LLightning v 2.7L
1 year$859.00$2,852.50$2,721.44$1,993.50$1,862.44
2 year$1,763.00$5,925.00$5,442.88$4,162.00$3,679.88
3 year$2,771.00$9,176.50$8,783.32$6,405.50$6,012.32
5 year$4,579.00$14,971.50$14,316.20$10,392.50$9,737.20
10 year$9,552.00$30,297.00$28,986.40$20,745.00$19,434.40

The bottom line on the cost of gas vs. electric trucks

There is so much to take into consideration when you’re looking at costs associated with owning an EV – and we’ve probably missed something. But this gives you the general gist. While time spent charging on a road trip is a justifiable concern, if you look at the overall life of the vehicle, the actual cost of ownership is a lot more for the gas model. 

So, do you want to spend a little extra up front and save time and money in the long run with maintenance and fueling? Or do you enjoy your weekly trip to the gas station and all the extra time and money you’ll spend on maintenance, just so you can keep your extra cash in the bank right now?

Seriously, we’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

*Editor’s note: We got to 30 hours by looking at how many times you’d need each service done in a 10 year period. So, a 3-year service would be done 3 times, multiplied by an hour and a half equals a total of 4.5 hours – just for that service. We included 20k, 30k, 60k, 100k and 150k mile services and tallied the total.  

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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1 Comment

  1. texmln September 4, 2022

    Now put a value on these:

    1) Being forced by the government to buy something you don’t want.

    2) Being taxed.so the government can take your earnings and literally hand out cash to other people so they can buy something they want at a lower cost


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