Can Electric Cars really save you Money?

Electric Vehicle Charging Durham – Source: Peter Robinson of Geograph.org.uk on Wikimedia Commons

Ed: I’ve had a lot of feedback from Chloe’s article. Several of our readers have added to the debate on electric cars and I include a sample of their comments here …

Some Battery EVs are now cheaper than the diesel equivalent. Several readers mentioned that, since EVs are much simpler, servicing is much cheaper and some dealers even include a free charging with the service!
Rapid charging may not be for domestic users but taxi drivers use them a lot.

If you have solar power at home then you can charge at home for free, when it’s sunny!
Manufacturing costs for EVs are some 20-30% less than for an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and battery costs are falling, although these savings may not be passed on to consumers yet owing to an excess of demand over supply.
BEVs will hold their resale value much better than ICE cars.  
Vehicle to Grid (V2G) is not yet widely available as most EVs are being made without the necessary interface; Leaf is an exception. However, in the long term, V2G will be a game changer.
One downside for caravan or trailer owners is that towing is only possible with a few EVs.


Electric Vehicles (EV’s) have been a trending topic over the past few years. In fact, with every year there are more people that decide to switch their conventional petrol car for an electric one. Sooner or later, many people might be required to make the change. In 2020, the UK government announced that from 2030 all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned and only second-hand ones will be available.

There are three types of electric vehicle that you can choose from:

  • Battery electric vehicles (BEVs),
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs),
  • Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and

The way they work is different:

  • The Battery electric vehicle runs fully on electricity. 
  • The Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle runs on both electricity and petrol or diesel. The car can run on electricity until it has enough in storage, after that it switches to petrol or diesel. 
  • Lastly, the hybrid electric vehicle cannot be plugged in but instead, its battery is charged by regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine.

Should I buy an electric car or a normal car?

Buying an electric car, and especially a new one, is quite expensive. The average price is around £44,000, however prices can vary from £17,350 up to £138,826, depending on the features of the car. At the same time, the average price of buying a new conventional car in the UK is around £38,585.

This figure, of course, can become lower depending on the features and the model of the car, but it is clear that the purchasing price of the petrol and diesel cars is lower compared to the electric ones. To promote the switch to electric vehicles, the UK government has set up the plug-in car grant which offers up to £2,500 off the purchase price, if the vehicle is zero emission and costs less than £35,000.

It might be the big upfront cost of electric cars that pushes back buyers, but the real money saving comes from the long-term use of the car. More specifically, the cost of running the car is where the big difference comes in action. 

If you drive an electric car in the UK, you will not be paying road taxes, which saves you £155 a year. Also, you will save on fuel bills. The average English driver clocks up some 7,600 miles a year. For a conventional car you would spend around £1,200 on fuel as opposed to £342 per year if you charge your car at home. This represents a total saving on about £1,000 annually.

Charging your electric car

The main thing that prevents people from buying an electric car is the fear of not being able to charge whenever they need and that they might end up in the middle of nowhere with their car. 

Charging station on the street

EV Charging Stations – Source: Author

According to Zap Map (17 September 2021) there are around 44,000 charge points across England in over 16,000 locations. The average electricity price in the UK is around 17p per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Therefore to charge a 60kWh electric car, it will cost about £9 for a 200 mile range. Depending on the charging station and the car, you can fully charge your car in a few hours or less. For example, for a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery, it takes around 7-8 hours to charge with a 7kW charging point. If you use a rapid charger with 50kW, you can add up to 100 miles in just 35 minutes.

It is possible to find free stations around supermarkets, shopping centres, hotels and parkings. However, there could be a limit on the time for charging or you might need to be a customer in the supermarket, for instance.

Charging station at home

EV Charging at Home – Source: Author

Charging your EV at home can be a convenient solution. There are green energy suppliers that offer good tariffs for customers that own electric cars. First, you need to install a charging station at your home. If you are planning to do so, you can benefit from the government’s EV Homecharge Scheme, which is a 75% contribution to the price of installation and up to £350.

If you plan to charge your car at home, it is best to choose a specific EV energy tariff. There are energy suppliers in the UK who offer energy tariff plans made for households with electric cars. Before choosing your energy supplier you should consider how many times a month you are charging your car, not how long it takes for your car to be fully-charged. Also, check out which energy suppliers offer a night tariff. If you tend to charge your car at night to have it ready for the work day, this could save you additional costs. 

Can I do long distance journeys with an EV?

With the current number of over 40,000 charging stations, ranging from standard to fast-charging, drivers can normally use their EV for long distances. To further promote the change to EV in the coming years, the government is increasing the number of charging stations every year.

Most EV’s can run up to 150-200 miles before needing to be charged. However, depending on the model, this can go to more than 300 miles. Even if your car has a lower range, using the distributed charging stations on the highways, you should not have any problems.

You can find charging stations on motorways and main roads, most of which are fast or super-fast charging points. For instance, the green energy provider Ecotricity has installed rapid charging in 96% of motorway service stations.

So is getting an EV a good deal?

Switching to a new car, no matter the type, is always an expensive move. However, going for an electric car can not only have benefits for the environment but also for your pocket.

If you plan to use your car for a few years, you could definitely realise the benefit of investing in an EV. Cars are a matter of personal preference, but in a few years Brits will have to embrace the zero emission life.


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