Youtuber MKBHD Pitted Gas Versus Electric Cars and the Results Were Surprising

A Tesla driving down a windy road.
canadianPhotographer56 / Shutterstock.com

When it comes to the idea of buying an electric vehicle, range anxiety and the cost and time to recharge are pretty hefty topics. YouTuber MKBHD decided to put a gas vehicle against a Tesla and a Mustang Mach-E in a 1,000-mile road trip. The results are more surprising than you’d think.

If you have the time, you should watch the full video, but the results of the test are both what you think will happen and yet totally different at the same time. Confusing, I know, but let’s get into the nature of the test first.

MKBHD and crew drove an Audi Q5 gas car (promised range of 462 miles), a Tesla Model S Plaid (345 miles), and a Mustang Mach-E (305 miles) on a 1,000-mile loop over a period of two days. They arranged several pre-planned stops along the way as checkpoints and started and ended the journey at the same location. That location also had gas stations and charging points for both the Tesla and the Mustang, so all vehicles started at “100% fuel.”

The goal here was twofold: to test how long each vehicle would take to make the journey and how much it would cost. It takes longer to recharge an electric vehicle, even on the fastest chargers, than it does to refuel a gas car, and that’s not counting the fact that gas stations are more plentiful. But electricity is cheaper, so it might cost less to make the journey in an EV.

If you think that the gas vehicle probably finished the journey the fastest thanks to its better range and quick refuel, followed by the Tesla, then the Mach-E, you’d be right. But, the details are likely different than you’d imagine. The gas vehicle completed the journey in 18 hours and 39 minutes. The Tesla took just an hour and a half long. That’s it, less than two hours difference over 1,000 miles. That’s the kind of difference you could get due to traffic.

On the other hand, the Ford Mach-E took six hours and 35 minutes longer to complete the journey. That’s right, nearly seven hours. But it gets more complicated than that. On day one, the Tesla and the Mustang drivers went about the journey the same way. They used in-car navigation to find recharging stations along the way. The Tesla managed to make it all the way to checkpoint 1 with just 1% left, where a supercharger took care of things.

But the Ford Mustang stopped earlier, due to its shorter range, than the rest of the vehicles for the first recharge. And to make matters worse, the first station it stopped at was out of order. That meant driving 30 miles in the wrong direction to find the next closest charger. That was a slower charger, so they sat for two hours. At that point, the Mustang crew deviated from the main path to get to the first night’s stopping point at a reasonable hour. Along the way, they countered another broken charger, followed by a trickle charger that barely functioned, and finally a fast charger.

That first day put them five hours behind. On the second day, they narrowed their charger list to the more reliable Electrify America chargers that typically are fast charging. And that worked a lot better, though it still came with difficulty. They encountered at least one outlet that didn’t work at each stop but, thankfully, another outlet that did. In the end, it arrived at the final destination an hour and a half after that gas vehicle and 45 minutes after the Tesla.

That’s an eye-opening experience. Tesla owns and maintains a supercharger network that’s pretty large and reliable. Other EVs rely on a network of chargers owned by several entities. And that led to the results here: Ford can find you chargers that are “compatible,” but it won’t know if they’re out of order, and they may be slow chargers. You can narrow down the list to fast chargers, but even that doesn’t guarantee they’ll work.

That gives Tesla a huge advantage. But also proves that as long as you are picky about what chargers you’ll accept, other EVs aren’t as far behind as you might fear. You HAVE to be picky to avoid the most unreliable options. Another interesting detail came out in the promised ranges. According to MKBHD, Telsa overpromises its range while other companies underpromise. So while the Tesla they used promised a range of 345 miles and the Mustang Mach-E promised 305 miles, real-world results actually put them at about the same.

And as for the cost to drive 1,000 miles? Well, as it turned out, it wasn’t that much cheaper to drive the EVs, not counting free credits that don’t come with all vehicles. The Mach-E required the least money, but the difference between it and the gas vehicle was about $20. That’s it. Saving $20 or so for every 1,000 miles doesn’t seem like much.

EVs have other benefits, like always starting the day with a full “tank” and skipping early morning gas station stops. But if your concerns are range, recharge times, and cost, you should give the video a full watch. The devil is in the details, of course, but these results were surprising.

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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