Comparing the pros and cons of electric cars vs petrol cars

Comparing the pros and cons of electric cars vs petrol cars

Considering ditching conventional cars in favour of making the transition to electric vehicles? We weigh up the pros and cons of each and compare the purchase and running costs, so you know what to consider before buying an electric vehicle.

Are electric cars worth it and should I get one?

You may have noticed more and more of those nifty green rectangles on licence plates recently, denoting that they belong to an electric vehicle (EV), as well as a rise in EV charging points too. And with government plans for all new cars and vans to have zero emissions at the tail pipe by 2035, those rectangles will become ever more common.

And with good reason. The benefits of EVs include being cheaper to run, emission-free and super quiet compared to their petrol counterparts. If you’re thinking of buying an electric car, here’s everything you need to know to compare electric vs petrol cars, so you can start driving in a cleaner, greener way.

Cost of running an electric vs petrol car in the UK

Electric vs petrol car cost is probably the first factor to consider. Electric car purchase prices are generally higher than those of a traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle. Taking the Vauxhall Mokka as an example, the petrol GS Line is £24,640, while the electric equivalent costs £31,945.

Which is cheaper electric or petrol cars?

While you’ll pay a bit more to buy an EV, other costs are lower – so it’s important to look at the cost of running an electric car vs. a petrol one for an accurate car cost comparison.

It’s also worth remembering that electric car prices are coming down because they are becoming cheaper to make. In fact, it’s predicted that they will be cheaper than their petrol and diesel counterparts within the next few years.

How much does it cost to run an electric car?

A new electric car might not be high on the shopping list in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis, but alongside the initial electric car price, it’s worth considering how much it costs to run an electric car.

Electric vehicle running costs: fuel

Based on prices in June 2022, fully charging a typical 60kW EV at home costs £15.10 and gives you a 200-mile range. Whereas you’re looking at over £104 for a full tank - and rising as fuel price hit record highs. This would give you on average a 200 to 400-mile range, depending on where you’re driving and the car’s miles per gallon.

Electric vehicle running costs: road tax

The amount you pay for road tax each year depends on your vehicle’s CO2 emissions and when it was registered. For ICE vehicles, it ranges from £30 to £2,365 for models that emit more than 255g/km. If your vehicle has a price list of more than £40,000, you can add another £355 on top of that. Hybrids are significantly cheaper, costing anywhere between £0 to £135 per year. But for a fully electric vehicle, you pay nothing. Nada. A nice £0 sum.

Electric vehicle running costs: insurance

When EVs first came onto the scene, they cost a lot more to insure. However, each year the price gets nearer to that of their petrol counterparts. Comparing insurance prices for a Volkswagen Golf as of July 2022, a petrol model can be in insurance groups 7 to 27, while the e-Golf sits in group 15. The lower the group, the cheaper the insurance – so the EV is more expensive than some, but cheaper than most.

Electric vehicle running costs: servicing

As they generally have fewer moving parts (no clutch or drivetrain required), not only is servicing an EV cheaper, but there is also less that can go wrong. The price of getting an EV service is now closer to a traditional petrol or diesel car, with interim services ranging from £80 to £200 and major services going for £250 to £400. However, not all garages are specialist in EVs, so you may have to take it in to the manufacturer, which will cost a bit more.

Electric vehicle running costs: city charges

Driving in London’s Congestion Charge zone costs £15 per day between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday and 12pm to 6pm on the weekends and bank holidays. However, electric cars and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are exempt under the Cleaner Vehicle Discount. It’s worth noting that plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) aren’t exempt anymore.

Likewise, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operates 24/7 but again, it’s free for EVs. Which is especially handy as more cities, such as Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth already have clean air zones, with more to come, including Bradford, Bristol and Greater Manchester.

How much does an electric car charging point cost? 

Even though there are plenty of public charging points across the country, it’s hard to beat the convenience of charging your EV at home. The cost of home chargers for electric cars can vary, and you may be eligible for the EV chargepoint grant if you’re a flat owner or live in rented accommodation. The cost of EV charger installation by our friends at Hive depends on which charger you choose, and can complete with charger, installation, and a three-year guarantee. You can then use the Hive app to sync with your energy tariff so you’re charging when it’s cheapest.

What to look for when buying an electric car: range

When weighing electric cars vs petrol cars and their pros and cons, one of the main worries with EVs has been long journeys. In the past there were few public charging points, while early EVs took a long time to charge and had a limited range - generally well under 100 miles.

That’s all different now.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the average range of an EV in 2022 is over 250 miles. And as of June 2022, the UK had 32,663 charging points at 19,960 locations, which is up 34% on June 2021.

So now you can get from Lancaster to London on a single charge, it’s only the very longest journeys that will require charging en route. And you’ll need a break yourself over that distance too! Nowadays, you can stop off at a service station, plug in, grab a bite to eat and by the time you’re finished, you should have enough charge to continue your journey.

What to look for when buying an electric car: choice

Previously people thinking of buying an electric car didn’t have many models to choose from – either an expensive Tesla or more practical cars like the Nissan Leaf. Now, there are different types of EV and you can go for style, or family cars like the Vauxhall Combo Life Electric, or city run-arounds like the Honda e–so you’re spoiled for choice.

How does the electric vs petrol car carbon footprint compare?

The electric car carbon footprint is low – EVs cause carbon emissions of 40g CO2/km if charged using standard grid electricity. That’s still a third of the amount used by a petrol car. And if it’s charged using renewable energy, we’re talking carbon emissions of 0g CO2/km!

Electric vs petrol car comparison: efficiency

Just like any car, an EV cruising at slow, smooth speeds will maximise efficiency. Similarly, if you’re speeding away (legally, of course!) or heavy on the brakes, then it’ll use up your charge. Speaking of braking, lots of EVs benefit from regenerative braking – each time you brake, you can actually add more charge to the car, unlike a petrol car which just depletes fuel quicker!

Vehicles with Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) have a low fuel efficiency of 40% as most of it is wasted via heat and friction, so they use up a lot more energy compared to EVs.

Another thing that can affect electric car performance is using too much air-conditioning or heating. Of course, that is still being optimised constantly – you won’t have to drive wearing three coats in the winter or short shorts in the summer. Unless you want to, of course.

What are the benefits of EVs?

There’s a lot to consider when buying an electric car. But one thing to remember is that they really are improving all the time - so what’s on the market now might surprise you, especially if you’ve considered switching before and found EVs wanting. If electric car reliability or performance weren’t right for you before, then now might be the time to switch because there are now lots of EV benefits:

1. EVs are cheaper

When you’re comparing an electric vs petrol car, the initial cost may be more, but it’ll be cheaper in the long run. You’ll be exempt from road tax and ULEZ zones, and you’ll notice the benefits especially when it comes to charging.

2. EVs are convenient

With a home charger, you can plug in overnight and be raring to in the morning - which is a lot quicker than driving around looking for the petrol station with the best price.

3. EVs are smoother

EVs can move in near silence, which not only reduces noise pollution but gives a smoother ride on the accelerator too.

4. EVs are sustainable

Electric vehicles don’t emit any CO2 or greenhouse gases, so their carbon footprint is significantly lower than that of conventional cars. And this cleaner air brings health benefits too.

5. EVs hold value

As soon as you drive a new car off the forecourt, it loses value – and that drops in value by 50-60% within the first three years, according to the RAC. In comparison, certain EVs (Mercedes-Benz EQC, for example) can hold as much as 65% of its value after three years!

Should I buy an electric car?

The government has declared that only EVs will be sold by 2035 so that green badge of honour will be on your car by then. But switch now to get perks like:

  • Grants to help you with the cost of installing an electric car charging point at home
  • No road tax for fully electric vehicles
  • Exemption from congestion charges – it’s £15 a day for a conventional car in London
  • More exemption from the growing number of ULEZ zones

Ready to make the move?

When you compare electric vs petrol car running costs, you’ll find that an electric car is cheaper to run. But it’s also much more than cost savings. It’s a greener, more sustainable way of driving too. And soon we’ll all be doing it. You can start your journey by getting your driveway electrified and if you want to know more, check out all our EV guides.