Record Gas Prices: Which States Most Benefit Switching to Electric Vehicles?

Record Gas Prices: Which States Most Benefit Switching to Electric Vehicles?
Graphic: Nathaniel Blum

As gas import bans following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine push gas prices to all-time highs, Bumper.com looked at which state residents would most benefit from switching to electric vehicles.

We found that many coastal state drivers would benefit most from switching to electric cars. Meanwhile, drivers who live in many Great Plains states are least incentivized to go electric despite record gas prices, according to our analysis.

Bumper.com analyzed average gas prices and how much state prices have changed since last summer, along with average gas consumption in each state and the District of Columbia.

We compared those results with which states have the best electric vehicle infrastructure—such as a rising number of EV charging stations—and incentives for electric car ownership. We also factored in several other EV car buying concerns, such as local price of electricity and the cost differential for purchasing an electric vehicle versus gas-powered cars. (See methodology for more details.)

Key takeaways

  • Massachusetts, Vermont and New York are the best states to switch to electric vehicles. California, Washington, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Virginia, New Jersey and Florida round out the top 10 best places to switch to electric in light of rising gas prices.
  • The worst states to switch to electric are Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota. Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, North Dakota, Iowa, South Carolina and Montana also ranked low in our analysis.
  • Louisiana and Massachusetts saw the highest average gas price increase. Alabama, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina also saw the largest average increase in gas prices in recent months.
  • Wyoming, Montana and Rhode Island use the most gas per 100,000 licensed drivers. The other largest consumers of gas are Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas, South Dakota and New Mexico.

Best and worst states to use electric vehicles during gas crunch

Some themes we observe from our results:

East Coast and West Coast states—with the exception of Pennsylvania—dominate our list of the top 10 states to switch to electric vehicles, based on the rising cost of gas as well as local EV infrastructure and other reasons for drivers to go electric.

Our study found the least incentivized states to switch to electric—despite the historic rise in gas prices—are dominated by Great Plains states, including Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Wisconsin, Louisiana and one East Coast state, South Carolina, also have fewer reasons to make the switch.

Nine out of our 15 worst states to switch to EVs are also among the top 15 states with the lowest average cost of fuel despite increased prices in recent months. Meanwhile, states with the highest average price of gas include half of our top 10 best states to switch to EV cars (California, Washington, Pennsylvania, New York and the District of Columbia).

At No. 1, Massachusetts ticks a lot of boxes that give residents a compelling reason to switch to electric vehicles during this gas crunch.

“The state saw the second-highest increase in gas prices since last summer, and its average price of gas is among the top 15 most expensive states,” said Bumper.com data analyst Julianne Ohlander. “Massachusetts also has the fifth-highest average travel time to work and seventh-smallest cost differential for purchasing and running an EV versus gas-powered car.”

Massachusetts is also among the top states for charging stations per 100,000 licensed drivers and has had the second-fastest growth rate for new stations since 2017.

Last on our list, Wyoming scored low for growth of charge stations and for the number of registered EVs as a percentage of all car registrations.

“Wyoming also had some of the nation’s shortest travel times to work and least expensive price swings on gas, further disincentivizing making the switch to electric,” Ohlander said.

Related: Best and Worst States to Own Electric Cars

States with the largest gas price increase

States with the largest use of gas

Important note: We based gas consumption figures on 2019 use rather than 2020, the most recent year on record, in light of recent Federal Highway Administration statistics that show driving in 2021 has largely recovered from pre-pandemic mileage. Total miles on US streets and highways was down just 1.2% below 2019 figures, compared to the 14.6% drop in 2020 during the height of pandemic shutdowns.

Is now the time to go electric?

You can save a lot of money on gas by choosing a hybrid or an electric car if you never want to worry about gas again.

“Electric vehicles do not require oil changes, air filters, fan belts, timing belts, spark plugs, engine sensors and cylinder heads,” Ohlander said.

An electric vehicle generally costs less to fuel than a gas-powered vehicle. Plus, you’ll be fighting pollution and climate change as well as saving money.

“That said, the war in Ukraine, besides raising gas prices, may also increase the price of electric vehicles that use nickel batteries by $1,000 or more, according to some market analysts,” Ohlander said.

How to make your gas go further

Slow down. Maintaining a safe speed or driving just under speed limits can pay dividends. Wind resistance increases the faster you drive, reducing fuel economy.

Use cruise control. Using cruise control on non-hilly terrain can save you money on gas and ensure you stay at the speed limit.

Cut your idle time. Make sure you don’t start the car and leave it running while waiting for everyone or fiddling with your navigation. Don’t start the engine until you’re ready to leave. Idling wastes fuel and increases air pollution.

Share rides. Consider joining a carpool with neighbors or friends to take your children to school or extracurricular activities.

Route plan. Consider running all your errands in one day rather than in several days and several car trips.

Methodology

Bumper ranked EV financial incentives by these metrics:

  • Number of rebates and tax incentives found in each state
  • Recharge cost
  • Mean travel time to work
  • State cost of an EV versus cost of a gas-powered vehicle

We ranked EV infrastructure scores by these metrics:

  • Number of new charging stations since 2017
  • Number of charging stations per 100,000 population
  • Number of EVSE ports per 100 charging stations
  • Number of EVSE ports per 100 EV vehicle registrations
  • EV registrations as a percentage of all motor vehicles in the state

We ranked current gasoline factors by these metrics:

  • Average price of gas on March 8, 2022
  • Average price increase since Aug. 5, 2021
  • Average state consumption of gas per 100,000 licensed drivers

Results were evenly weighted across these three categories.

Sources: US Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center; US Energy Information Administration, State Electricity Profiles and Renewable & Alternative Fuels Vehicle Data; United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey; US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration - Policy and Governmental Affairs, Office of Highway Policy Information; US Energy Information Administration, Independent Statistics & Analysis, State Profiles and Energy Estimates; Self Financial, Inc.; AAA; Federal Highway Administration; FuelEconomy.gov, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

For more information, contact Kerry Sherin, [email protected].

About Bumper

At Bumper, our mission is to give people the tools they need to make the most out of car ownership. Bumper provides accurate reporting at fair pricing, including a VIN number lookup tool, vehicle monitoring and access to a new and used car marketplace—all on one platform.


About Bumper

At Bumper, we are on a mission to bring vehicle history reports and ownership up to speed with modern times. A vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases you'll likely make, and you deserve to have access to the same tools and information the pros use to make the right decisions.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.