What’s the cost of running an electric car?
Electric cars are here to stay. They’re rapidly becoming a huge part of our lives. But just how much does it cost to run an electric car? Let us break it down for you.
Vehicle emissions have been a hot topic for some time, particularly when it comes to cars. Higher emissions mean poorer air quality and without change soon, we could be well on the way to seriously damaging our planet.
The good news is with the rise in electric car technology, we can limit (and even start to reduce) these harmful emissions in our day-to-day lives. The problem was though like with any new technology when it’s new, it was expensive to buy.
The cost of living with such advanced tech was uncertain too, whether that be the metaphorical ‘cost’ of sacrificing tried-and-trusted ways of living with something unproven, or obviously, the actual financial costs.
Thankfully, transport has moved with the times and it’s now possible to get a highly advanced, modern electric car that you can genuinely live with every day, for essentially the same price as the equivalent petrol or diesel car.
But what about electric car running costs? Are they actually cheaper to run long-term, here in the UK? Let us break it down for you.
Here’s what we’ll cover on this page:
- Electric car running costs
- The cost to run an electric car currently in the UK
- Petrol vs electric running costs
- How much it costs to charge an electric car
- Tax, insurance and maintenance costs for an electric car
How much does an electric car cost to buy?
We outlined some of the most affordable EVs for 2023 but in summary, all the following manufacturers currently sell all-electric cars between £26,000 and £31,000:
The Smart EQ ForTwo, which starts under £22,000, and Citroën’s Ami, coming in under £8,000 for the basic car are also available.
Premium manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Tesla and Polestar offer BEVs (battery electric vehicles) with excellent range and huge specification but do cost a fair bit more to purchase.
All of those will require a hefty deposit upfront though if you purchase through a manufacturer or lease your car and they’ll make you wait a few months too. Skip the queue and get a car delivered within a week with no deposit through one of our all-inclusive electric car subscriptions. Yes, seriously.
Cost of running an electric car vs petrol in the UK
Take two brand new 2023 registered cars: a FIAT 500 Hybrid (which combines a 1.0 petrol engine with a small electric motor to make 70hp) and a FIAT 500e (which is all-electric using a 117hp motor).
Yes, the all-electric FIAT will cost more to purchase upfront, but when you consider what you could save, it makes for serious reconsidering:
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
Let’s crunch the numbers. But…
…a lot of this depends on your energy tariff, if you’re charging from home and how much you rely on public chargers.
We’ve done our best to use realistic figures and not those taken from machines too, using home charging (as that’s the cheapest) as our basis.
A petrol-powered FIAT 500 Hybrid (with a 1.0 petrol engine and a small electric motor) can average 53.3 miles per gallon, according to Auto Express. It has a 35-litre fuel tank (7.7 UK gallons) meaning, in theory, you could drive 410 miles on a full tank of petrol.
An all-electric FIAT 500e (with an 87kW electric motor) can average 3.92 miles per kilowatt-hour, taken from figures on EV Database. It has a 42kWh battery pack, but only 37kWhs is useable for charging meaning, in theory, you could drive 145 miles in the real-world on a full battery.
So, how much does it cost to fill up? 35 litres of petrol, at £1.50 a litre, means a full tank in the FIAT 500 Hybrid would cost you £52.50. A full battery of electricity, charging at home on an EV tariff like OVO Energy Charge Anytime, can cost as a low as 10p per kWh, meaning a full charge in the FIAT 500e would cost you just £4.20. On the average UK energy tariff as of March 2023, electricity costs 33.2p per kWh according to the government, meaning a full charge from empty would cost you £13.94.
This means the petrol FIAT 500 Hybrid costs 12.8p per mile with the electric FIAT 500e costing 9.6p on an average UK electricity tariff, or as low as 2.9p per mile if you switch to an EV tariff.
How much can I save driving an electric car?
This is based on home charging the electric FIAT only.
If you regularly use public chargers, the figure will be higher, of course and it does depend on your energy tariff. But you could still save an awful lot of money compared to petrol.
And bear in mind, this comparison is against a small, efficient city car. If you drive a larger, less efficient petrol or a diesel at the moment (which costs more than petrol), you’ll see even more savings if you make the switch.
Zap Map have done some amazing research on the running costs of public charging an EV, which you can find summarised on our blog:
How can I charge my electric car?
Charging at home is relatively straightforward and convenient so long as you have a home charge point – though a standard home plug will do too, it just takes (a lot!) longer.
When you get an electric car through elmo, you can add a home charge point through our partners at Easee and AES.
Charging at home is significantly cheaper than charging with a public charger, so it’s a good idea to consider how you could potentially charge your car at home. We know however, that’s not always possible and there are many people who live with an EV relying on public chargers and still see the cost savings compared to an ICE car.
Away from home
There are three types of public charging points: slow (lamppost points for example), fast (typically those found in car parks) or rapid (normally those located in motorway service stations), with faster chargers costing more.
On average, however, even just twenty to thirty minutes use of a rapid or ultra-rapid charger will give you more than enough charge to get you to your next stop. Prices vary depending on provider, with some charging up to £1.00 per kWh, but some offering it completely for free. It tends to average at about 60p per kWh for rapid/ultra-rapid chargers, meaning to top up our FIAT 500e from 10-80%, it would cost you about £15 (that’s for approximately 115 miles of range).
It’s good to check with your nearest point(s) to see how much you’ll be charged. Adapting how you charge will contribute to your electric car running costs.
Just like petrol and diesel cars, EVs have different sized “fuel tanks” (or batteries). The larger your battery, the more it’ll cost to fill up.
Most providers offer discounts to those signed up to their membership packages, but it does mean that you’ll have to carry around quite a few cards/apps to cover all the providers. Don’t worry though, we can help our subscribers with that through our public charging solution, elmoCharge.
How much does it cost to tax and insure an electric car?
Tax, or “vehicle excise duty” (VED) as it’s now known, is calculated according to CO2 tailpipe emissions. Electric cars remain completely exempt from VED until April 2025 (when EVs will be subject to VED). Now though, it’s unclear how much it’ll cost for EV owners to tax their vehicle after this point.
Insurance depends on the car but is similar to petrol or diesel vehicles in that each car is given an Insurance Group. This, as well as your personal situation (employment, where you live, how old you are etc.) can all determine your insurance costs.
Getting an electric car through elmo means you don’t have to worry about VED or insurance, as we cover it all as part of your monthly subscription.
How much does it cost to maintain an electric car?
Maintenance costs depend on the type of electric car in question. Pure electric vehicles or BEVs have a much simpler structure and fewer moving parts than traditional petrol or diesel engines, so are less subject to wear and tear, keeping overall maintenance costs low. To make things super simple for our subscriptions, all elmo subscriptions come with electric car maintenance included.
Despite this, trips to the local service centre are still necessary on occasion. BEV owners should anticipate occasional repairs to or replacement of:
By contrast, typical maintenance costs for hybrid vehicles are comparable to those of conventional vehicles because they contain all the usual ICE components.
Is it cheaper to run an electric car than a petrol or diesel car?
Based off of fuel and electricity prices at the moment, if you’re smart with your charging – even if you can’t charge at home – yes, it’s cheaper to run an electric car than an ICE one.
Looking to try an electric car?
If you’ve ever leased a car before, you will be familiar with the procedure: hand over your card details and get ready to pay a hefty deposit before you even turn the ignition key. But the many innovations of EV technology have encouraged fresh thinking elsewhere too.
Instead, you could subscribe.
Find out more about our available cars below:
Driving an EV
Find out about the differences between driving an EV over a petrol or diesel car.
Electric car benefits
Curious to know why should you consider driving electric?
Why are electric cars cheaper to run?
Electric cars are cheaper to run because you don’t spend as much on servicing and maintenance (because they’re much simpler to service than a petrol or diesel car) and filling up with electricity is less expensive than petrol or diesel – especially if you can charge at home.
Are electric cars cheaper to run in the long-term?
Generally speaking, yes. It’s said servicing an EV costs around 30-40% less than a petrol or diesel car, so over the course of five years, that could be a potential £200-£250 saving before you’ve even started. Next there’s electricity costs; yes, these are in flux, but so are petrol and diesel prices and over a long period, particularly if you have a home charge point, you can save a lot of money in “fuel” costs. Of course, currently, EVs are more expensive to purchase, but there’s where subscription can help.
What is the average cost per mile to drive an electric car?
Driving an all-electric FIAT 500e, charging from home, would cost someone on an EV tariff just 3p per mile. On a standard UK energy tariff, this goes up to around 10p per mile.
For context, a similarly sized FIAT 500 Hybrid (with a petrol engine) costs around 13p per mile to run on fuel alone. If you can charge at home, you can save a considerable amount of money driving electric.
What’s the cheapest electric car to run?
Like any car, the “cheapest” to run is the one that’s most efficient. Petrol and diesel cars’ efficiency is generally determined by its MPG (miles per gallon) figure. In EVs, the equivalent is mpkWh (miles per kilowatt-hour). Like MPG, the higher the number, the more efficient your EV.
For example, a Tesla Model 3 can average 4.08 mpkWh (according to EV Database), which is the most efficient EV in the real world at the moment. The Hyundai IONIQ 6 is said to be close behind at 3.98 mpkWh.
How long do electric car batteries last? How much do they cost to replace?
Modern electric car batteries are said to maintain at least 70-80% of their original state of charge (battery health) even after 100,000 miles of use. Of course, this depends on how it’s been charged previously (if the previous owner fast charged all the time or constantly ran the car to 0%, it may not perform as well as this). Generally speaking, it’s said modern EV batteries won’t need replacing in the car’s lifetime, so you shouldn’t worry about it.
Will electric cars cost more to run soon?
Electric cars are currently exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (or road tax) but, as of 2025, they’ll need to pay this making them cost more to run than they do currently. At the moment, it’s not clear how this will work or be structured.
But, with EV prices continuing to decrease as the technology improves so quickly, electric cars will soon cost even less to run than they currently do.
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