What is the cost of owning an electric vehicle?

by Steph Carty 2 years ago

So, the time has come for you to seriously think about taking the plunge and buying an electric car. You’ve decided to move on from petrol or diesel, and after thinking about a hybrid, you’ve finally come to the conclusion that a car powered 100 per cent by electricity is the way to go. So what is the cost of owning an electric car? Find out more below...

The first and most obvious point is that you need to buy the electric car, known as an EV in motoring circles, in the first place.

This is an interesting choice because do you want a car that is obviously 100 per cent electric, like a BMW i3, Nissan LEAF or a Tesla, or do you want something that actually looks like the rest of the range from the manufacturer, like a Volkswagen Golf or up! Only a trained eye would spot that the Volkswagen up! they’re following is actually an e-up!, or that the Golf in their rear view mirror is an e-Golf.

New Volkswagen e-Up!
New Volkswagen e-Up!

Just like with buying a petrol, diesel or hybrid car, go and test drive it and see whether there’s enough space, has the sort of equipment included standard that you want and feels good to drive. Is it comfy? Can you get the golf clubs in the boot? At the end of the day, it’s still a car and has to meet the needs of commuting, school run, shopping, holiday outings and taking garden rubbish to the tip.

At this point though, you need to start doing your sums. Granted, you will be helping to reduce emissions, but will it save or cost you money?

So, how much does it cost to charge and run an electric car?

The best way to calculate this exactly is to make a note of the battery size and then multiply it by the cost of your electricity. Let’s use the Volkswagen e-Golf as an example.

The e-Golf has a 35.8kWh battery. After checking your electricity bill, you’ll spot that you are charged, for example, 15 pence per kWh (kilowatt hour). Multiply the two figures together and you end up with a bill of £5.37 to charge your car battery from flat to full. Of course, if you have solar panels, you could end up charging your car for zero. You may also have access to cheaper overnight electricity.

Compare that to a petrol Golf which has a tank of around 50 litres. Multiply that by the price of a litre of petrol (around £1.28) which gives you a fill-up charge at the petrol station of £64.

Volkswagen e-Golf charging
Volkswagen e-Golf charging

Granted, the tank full of petrol on a VW Golf will get you much further than a fully charged battery on the e-Golf, but even if you needed 3 charges, you still end up with a total bill of around £16 which represents a substantial saving.

Another saving is that you pay £0 road tax. If you live in a city you won’t pay any congestion charges. Some towns and cities allow electric cars to use bus lanes. Some allow free parking.

Electric cars are far simpler than petrol or diesel powered cars. Servicing therefore tends to cost less for the simple reason that there’s less to do when the car undergoes its annual service.

You will need to factor in the one-off cost of installing a Wallbox charger. We’d recommend that you do this because it’s more convenient than using a 3-pin socket in your house or garage and it will also charge the battery more quickly.

Wallbox charger at home
Wallbox charger at home

Depreciation was a worry a few years ago, but now that electric cars are becoming more mainstream you will find that your electric car will be worth roughly the same after 3 or more years as a petrol or diesel equivalent. The purchase price of electric cars is also coming down. They used to be much more expensive than a similarly equipped petrol or diesel version, but the gap has narrowed dramatically.

So, is there a rough ballpark figure that gives you a guide?

Well, Volkswagen estimate that to run a mid-range petrol Golf costs you about 14 pence per mile. The all-electric e-Golf works out at 4p per mile.

So really, it’s now over to you. Do your sums. Zero emissions and cheap ‘fuel’ make electric cars very tempting. Their range capability is getting longer and longer. It’s taking less and less time to charge the battery.

In other words, owning an all-electric car is now becoming commonplace. Once you get into the habit of regularly charging your car at home or work, which the majority of people will do, you’ll suddenly wonder what all the fuss was about.