Cost comparison: Will an electric vehicle save you money in the long run?

With gas prices hitting a record high in March, people who were thinking about buying a new vehicle are taking a harder look at EVs – electric vehicles. 

They may come with a higher price tag, but some experts believe the high prices at the pump may soon further drive up the increasing demand for electric cars.

Tesla owner Noah Craig told FOX 13, "For my friend's tank right now to fill up, it's like $70. This, to fill up all the way, is like $11 or $12 every single time."

Craig purchased his Tesla about two years ago for roughly $50,000. That's a price point not many can afford, but he says the gas savings pay off over time. With gas prices over $4 a gallon in most places, his payoff time shortens.

MORE: Gas vs. electric vehicles: Advantages of each car as gas prices soar

"More people are definitely buying them. I've seen a lot of Teslas on the road. Sometimes on a Saturday or Sunday at this Winn-Dixie there will be a line of one or two cars sitting here," Craig said.

EV popularity growth

Since electric cars first hit the market a decade ago, their popularity has grown rapidly, averaging about 40% growth year after year. 

In 2010, there were about 17,000 electric cars on the roads, worldwide. Now, there are more than 7 million EVs on the streets.

"I don't see the growth coming down anytime soon" said Rowan University Rohrer College of Business assistant professor Saravanan Kuppusamy. "Whatever the gas prices do, it's going to accelerate the growth. Even though the gas prices increased, the sales in the EVs will go up." 

MORE: Electric car infrastructure needs rapid charge to keep up with demand, but who pays the bill?

So, what's cheaper, gas-powered or electric? 

According to the EPA, the average new car gets about 26 miles per gallon.

The national average for $4.34 for a gallon of gas.

That means it costs an average of 17 cents to drive a mile in a gas-powered car.

It currently costs about 5 cents to drive one mile in an electric car.

A person who drives about 12,000 miles in a year will pay roughly $2,000 for gas. An electric driver will pay about $600 to power their vehicle for the same distance.

"It pays off over time, but this is definitely paying off quicker over time now," Craig said.

The federal government also offers tax rebates for some EV purchases, up to $7,500 and local governments offer rebates for the cost of installing EV chargers for individual residents.