At face value, it’s hard to fault the electric car (EV). Most modern electric vehicles are well known for being cheaper to run, less harmful to the environment and capable of delivering a far smoother and quieter experience, versus their combustion engine cousins.
What’s more, the government recently announced an end to the selling of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2040. There’s never been a better time to decide if an electric car is right for you.
So without further ado, let’s jump into the pros and cons of electric cars, starting with the costs involved in running one.
So how much does it cost to run an electric vehicle?
With a modern EV, a 100-mile charge currently costs around £4, with an equivalent fossil fuel car coming in at about £14 to travel the same distance. That’s over 70% cheaper, assuming you charge at home or at a public charging station.
And the savings continue when it comes to servicing, with electric vehicles costing approximately £120 – £150 versus £200+ for a petrol equivalent. Even at the high end of that approximation, there’s still a 25% saving, largely thanks to the reduced number of serviceable components (such as a clutch) in electric vehicles.
As an EV user, you also benefit from road tax exemption, though you may have to pay tax if your vehicle is priced over £40,000. While there are no known plans to change this tax exemption, predictions are that the UK government could seek to recoup this by other means to fund future expansion of the electric vehicle infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the electric car doesn’t fare as well for insurance, with the average 30-year-old driver paying approximately £750 – £850 per year versus a £500 – £600 premium for the fossil fuel alternative. This is due to the additional expense of repairing or replacing specialist electric vehicle components (such as the battery).
How much do electric vehicles cost to buy?
Currently, EVs are slightly more expensive than their petrol equivalents. This is due to the manufacturing cost of the electric battery and related components. However, over time as processes have improved, costs have begun to fall with predictions of electric vehicles becoming cheaper than petrol alternatives by 2024 (according to a study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance).
Until then, the government is offering plug-in grants to car dealerships and manufacturers, to reduce the purchase price of some electric vehicles by as much as 35%. There’s also a government programme - the Vehicle Homecharge Scheme – that assists electric car owners with grants to cover 75% (up to a maximum of £500) of the purchasing and installation costs of a home charge point.
Is it difficult to find a place to charge an electric car?
With 6182 charging locations available in the UK (as of 2018) versus a record low of 8407 petrol stations (as of 2017), it’s becoming easier to find a local charging point. Unlike petrol stations, many of these plug-in stations are located at common destinations such as hotels, offices and other popular points of interest. This means that, (for the most part), you can benefit from charging before your journey and again when you reach your destination.
How do I compare the cost of travelling in electric vs petrol?
The following fuel cost calculator from the Next Green Car website compares the differences in fuel prices for any given journey. You can even input your own fuel cost assumptions to reflect local rates. These figures are approximations and your actual costs may vary depending on your own circumstances, such as the number of passengers in your car during a typical journey.
As an example, here is a journey that we calculated using a small EV family hatchback over 10,000 miles:
Our results predict that the petrol version would cost a staggering £1,390 more per year in fuel vs electric. Imagine how much more you could save over time if you took things further and charged your car via a renewable energy source, like home solar panels.
In another more detailed example we calculated the following:
A 43-litre capacity fuel tank (such as in a Ford Fiesta) with a fuel efficiency of 29mpg and £1.31 per litre of fuel costs around £2055 in fuel over 10,000 miles. Whereas a typical electric car (such as a Nissan Leaf) with a 40Kw engine costing £5.60 for a full charge at home (14 p/kWh) has a range of 235 miles and would cost around £240 in electricity over 10,000 miles. That’s a saving of over £1800!
Pros of owning an electric car
Cheaper to run
Cheaper to service
Purchase price can be offset by reduced fuel costs
Kinder to the environment
Potential to go even greener via home solar charging
Government assistance available to reduce purchase costs
Cons of owning an electric car
Higher insurance premiums
36% more petrol stations than public charging points (as of September 2018)
Charging times at public charge points can be as much as 30 minutes for a full charge
EV’s ranges are currently lower than their petrol equivalents, with an average Nissan Leaf covering 235 miles on a full charge. However, the next generation of electric vehicles promises a range of up to 350 miles on a single charge