How much does it cost to run an electric car?
With the world of automotive vehicles slowly going through a massive transformation from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric, we’ll be taking you on a deep dive to find out how much it really costs to run an electric car. From the cost of charging and maintaining your electric vehicle (EV) to going over additional costs that you must be aware of, you’ll find out everything you need to know about how much it costs to run an electric car along with the big question, will buying an electric car save you money?
In the UK, the use of electric cars has grown from just 30,000 registered in 2016 to 816,000 from June 2023, this growth has come from a series of factors, the rising costs of fuel and a growing attempt to fight global warming by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gasses which comes from using internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The average price of an electric vehicle in the UK will be around £50,000, with the cheaper models costing you around £30,000 and the luxury cars averaging around £77,000.
Factors Influencing the Cost of Running an Electric Car
When it comes to charging your vehicle from home, the cost of charging will vary according to the electricity rates for your region as well as how big your EV battery is. On average, it will cost you *£19 for a full charge of battery from your home, this will be for around 200 miles of driving and will take 8-10 hours to fully recharge. Whilst out and about, drivers can access public charging stations which are often located in supermarkets, car parks, hotels and sometimes service stations and are typically free for the duration of their stay, but some may require a purchase in-store. Using a public charging station will fully recharge your EV battery in around 3-4 hours but the fastest way to charge your EV would be to use a rapid charging station. These can be found at petrol stations, motorway service stations and supermarkets and can typically cost around £22 for 30 minutes of charge which for most fast-charge compatible EVs will result in a fully charged battery.
If you’re considering buying an EV car, you must be aware of the battery capacity and range it can give you. The average EV car currently will have a 50kWh lithium battery, which can give you around 200 miles on 1 charge but over time, the battery capacity will decrease as the battery degrades, through usage. As a fully charged electric vehicle won’t take you as far as a full tank of petrol in an ICE vehicle, so you will have to re-fuel your vehicle more often, but this can be done from home. As well as battery capacity and range, the efficiency of your vehicle is also important to keep an eye on. This means factors such as the weight of the vehicle and tyre condition will affect the efficiency by changing how much energy the vehicle consumes. Over time this will cause your battery to degrade faster as you must charge your car more frequently.
The costs of charging your car
Before we look at how you can calculate all the charging costs for your EV, it’s important to understand the measurements that are being used. Kilowatt-hours (kWh) is the measurement used to measure how much energy is being used, for example, a 100-watt light bulb uses 0.1 kWh. The average electric car will have a battery that uses 60kWh meaning they hold enough energy to supply 60,000 watts per hour. Calculating the energy consumption of an EV gives you a good idea as to how efficient the vehicle’s battery is. To calculate this, you get the vehicle’s battery capacity and ÷ the battery range, for example, the average battery capacity is 60kWh and the range would be 200miles, so in this case, the energy consumption is 3.33miles/kWh.
When charging your vehicle from home, you can calculate how much it will cost for a full charge by using these calculations, Rate of electricity X kWh of your EV battery. Using the average electricity rate (32p/kWh) and the average EV battery capacity (60Kwh), you’ll get £19, which is the average price it takes to fill up your electric car from home. To understand out how much you pay per mile, you take the price it costs to recharge your vehicle from home ÷ battery range, so for the average EV driver, this will be 9.5p/mile. When you compare it to the p/mile for an ICE vehicle, which is around 14-19p/mile for petrol and 15-19p/mile for diesel, it is around 40-90% more expensive.
Additional Costs to Consider
Before buying your electric car, you must consider how you will install a home charging kit. Even though you can charge your vehicle using a standard 3-pin plug with an electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) cable, it is advised that this must be used as a last resort. Home charging kits can cost anything from £400 for the cheapest versions to £1800 for the faster charging kits but with the Electric Vehicle Home-charge Scheme, the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) currently offers a grant of up to 75% of this cost, capped at a maximum grant of £350. It can take up to 3 hours to be installed depending on your requirements for where you want it to be placed. Before choosing a home charging kit, you must be aware of what type of phase power your home has, whether it be single-phase power or three-phase power. Single-phase which is typically found in most UK homes and some businesses, is what all standard 3-pin plug sockets provide. A single-phase electricity supply can power a dedicated charge point up to 7kW. Three-phase which is often found at commercial and industrial sites provides three alternating currents and allows for 22kW AC charging and is also required for rapid charging kits.
Whilst driving on long journeys, there might be times when you will need to charge your vehicle using a public charging station, although in some locations such as at the workplace, supermarkets and on-street charging it can be free, there will be places where you will have to pay, whether it be directly through a rapid charging station or with a membership. Memberships charge you a small fee monthly, in return you have access to all their charging stations along with a reduced charging rate.
Although electric cars are more expensive to buy than ICE vehicles, they require less maintenance due to having fewer moving parts, meaning that electric car service costs are much lower. The biggest topic when it comes to EV maintenance is the electric car lithium-ion battery. Even though they last a long time (around 10 - 20 years) they can cost around £5,300 to replace completely but it is rare that this needs to happen and it usually just needs repairing by replacing sub-optimal cells within the battery.
If you’re looking at making the change from ICE to electric, you must be aware of all the additional costs that you will face from your electric car. You must remember that when charging your vehicle from home, this will cost will come from your energy bill. Some energy tariffs allow for cheaper electricity to be available overnight so you can consider this if you want to make bills cheaper. Also, you must remember to get a home charging station installed correctly, most available places where you can buy them will offer to install it as well. Although this is another cost to be aware of, the government’s Electric Vehicle Home-charge Scheme will offer to pay up to 75% of this cost. With all these calculations you can now use to find out how much money you could save with an electric vehicle, but before calculating costs, you must research the what local area is like for charging stations for when you ever need a rapid-charging station. If you use rapid charging stations frequently, it might be worth looking at getting a membership as this will save you money.
So to answer the question “will buying an electric car save you money…”? well the answer is YES!
I mean that is a yes if you’re willing to go and spend the money on buying an electric car but it has to be noted that you will save money over time so selling up your current ICE vehicle and putting it towards a nice new electric car might be worth it when you look at how much it costs to run it compared to your current vehicle.
Here is a price comparison table, comparing the price of diesel, petrol and electric cars.
| Diesel|| Petrol|| EV|
|Average vehicle price (New)||£39,000||£39,500||£49,000|
|Average home charger cost|| N/A|| N/A|| £1000 (or £650 if eligible for the government grant)|
|Average cost to fill up|| £79.75|| £78.65|| £19|
|Average annual Tax price|| £180|| £180|| £170|
|Annual Total cost inc purchase and weekly fill-up|| £43,406.75|| £43,847.45|| £51,177|
|Annual Total cost exc purchase price and charger cost|| £4,406.75|| £4,348.45|| £1,177|