It is well-known that one of the several benefits of owning an electric vehicle (EV) is the low running costs; you will also earn brownie points for being environmentally friendly! But what are the costs of owning an electric car?
Electric cars are available in different sizes, just like your conventional petrol or diesel cars and will therefore have varying running costs depending on battery size, insurance group etc.
There are many charging points located around the UK that are free, whilst some do charge for their use. Although, compare these charges to the cost of filling a fuel tank and you will be very pleasantly surprised! Home charging tends to be cheaper and far more convenient than public charging; also the cost of charging the vehicle's battery will appear on your home electricity bill. Charging costs vary depending on lots of factors, but we will look at the Nissan LEAF as an example of the costs.
The Nissan LEAF ACENTA has a battery capacity of 40 kWh, so if you were to fully charge the battery from home it would cost approximately £5.60 (based on the average UK electricity price of 14p per kWh). However, it is important to note that some public electricity charging points may charge double this price to fully charge a car's battery. As a comparison, if you were to fully fill a 40-litre tank with petrol (based on - at the time of writing - the average UK petrol price of 129.1p per litre) it would cost £51.64.
Nissan claim the LEAF has a range of up to 168 miles so from this we can also work out the cost per mile if we divide the cost to charge by the distance £5.60/168 = £0.033 per mile. When comparing this to a Nissan MICRA, with up to 68.8 MPG driving the same distance of 168 miles, it would cost £14.42 to complete the journey and therefore cost £0.086 per mile.
Although the initial cost of an electric vehicle (EV) is still relatively high in comparison to a petrol or diesel equivalent car, their running costs are super low! It is far cheaper to re-charge an electric car's battery than to fill a fuel tank.
Also worth noting is the £0 road tax due to electric cars producing zero emissions. You will be at a huge advantage if you live in London as you won't need to worry about splashing out for the daily congestion charges, and you can merrily drive around the city centre knowing you are potentially saving thousands of pounds a year! Another cost-saving advantage is that if you have a company car you will pay less company car tax than if you opted for a petrol or diesel car.
Some used electric cars' prices may seem appealing but some manufacturers such as Renault offer the car either with the battery included in the total purchase price or on-lease. If you opt for the lease deal, Renault are responsible for replacing the battery if there are any issues. However, if the battery is included in the total price of the vehicle; the battery is your responsibility and you may face a steep bill to replace it. Alternatively, some manufacturers offer an 8-year warranty on batteries so depending on the age of the used car, the battery may still be covered under warranty. It is worth checking what the deal is before buying a used electric car so you don't get any expensive surprises.
EVs require less maintenance due to having less moving components than vehicles with an internal combustion engine (ICE), therefore services are cheaper than servicing an equivalent petrol or diesel car. The difference in price of servicing is reflected in the price of manufacturer's service packages; with electric cars having a far cheaper plan.
The absence of spark plugs, oil filters and timing belts provide financial benefits as the replacement of these can be costly. Electric cars' brake pads and discs generally last longer, as the regenerative braking system takes the majority of the strain, which is a great benefit as these components are often a major expense for petrol and diesel cars. Furthermore, the electric motor and battery require minimal routine maintenance.
It is reassuring that there are so many financial advantages of owning an electric car, especially after paying the expensive initial cost. However, like your mobile phone battery, the vehicle's battery will gradually age and not hold charge as well as a new battery meaning it will need replacing at some point.
Insuring an EV is often more expensive than insuring an equivalent conventionally powered car. This is due to EVs being in higher insurance groups because some are built using expensive and advanced lightweight materials, such as carbon fibre and aluminium. Furthermore, the battery often needs to be replaced following minor collisions in case of damage that may potentially result in the lithium ion battery catching fire in the future.
Despite being more expensive to initially purchase and considering the possibility of needing to replace the electric car's battery at some point, generally electric cars are far more cost-efficient in the long-term compared to traditional cars. Still unsure about buying your first electric car? Check out our reasons why to buy an electric/hybrid car.