True Cost of Electric Vehicles: Beyond the Purchase Price

With EVs in the ascendency, it’s just a matter of time before petrol and diesel cars are consigned to motor museums, but before that happens those undergoing the transition may well ask: what’s the cost of going green? Henry Quigley, content writer for Jardine Motors, does the sums.

Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to grow in popularity, with more than half a million battery-powered electric cars on the roads in the UK at the end of July 2022. With more concern over the changing climate and emissions, a greater emphasis is being placed on encouraging motorists all over the country to make the switch to electric.

This includes a plan by the Department for Transport (DfT) to increase the number of charge points from 30,000 to 300,000 in a £500 million scheme, alongside a plan by the UK government to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

These developments have encouraged plenty of motorists and businesses to make the leap to buying an EV, but what’s behind the cost of doing so?

This article will explore the true cost of buying and owning an electric car compared to owning a petrol or diesel vehicle.

Buying brand new

The first hurdle to jump with any vehicle is the cost of buying. For this analysis, we’ll look at if you’re buying new. Costs of electric cars are going to vary depending on the manufacturer you purchase from and the model, for example, if you go for a luxury electric car like the new Jaguar E-Pace, which is available as a plug-in hybrid, you’re paying for the quality and sleekness expected of a Jaguar.

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Using data from Nimblefins of collected electric car costs, we can see that the average cost across all-electric cars in the UK sits at £43,896. Comparing this to the average cost for a medium car like a hatchback or a saloon car of £21,964 and £36,852 respectively, it’s clear that electric cars are the more expensive option when buying brand new.

But this could be seen to account for a number of additional costs you don’t have to worry about when you own an electric vehicle, such as being exempt from vehicle tax and Clean Air Zone charges. Another important point is that with the sales of electric vehicles increasing year on year and as they become a more efficient and mainstream mode of travel, the costs of the vehicles will more likely reduce as they move from the fringe of motoring.

The cost of charging & maintaining your car

This area will be seen as the biggest benefit of EV ownership. While plug-in hybrids still require the use of petrol to run, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) only need the battery to be charged from a charge point to drive. From a price perspective, fully charging your car’s battery will come down to the capacity it uses. This can range from the lowest capacity of 15kWh, costing £4.20, all the way up to the much larger 100kWh battery running up to £28.

When comparing that against current costs for unleaded and diesel, there’s no question of the financial benefits of BEVs. This comes in the midst of petrol prices in the UK skyrocketing throughout the summer of 2022, with the Retail Price Index for petrol and oil increasing by 46.8% in value. Even with prices dropping to 169.8 per litre toward the end of August, reports from the RAC state that they should instead be nearer to 161p based on wholesale costs.

And what about insurance?

Insurance, much like the upfront costs of buying a new car, will vary depending on the size of the vehicle you’re looking to insure as well as a number of other factors. These include your age, how long you’ve been driving, and whether you have no claims to your licence.

The price of insurance for electric cars has been found by Nimblefins to average around £629 based on popularity. However, these vehicles are still in the minority on the roads, and given that this is new technology there are still people who are concerned about how these vehicles operate alongside traditional cars. It could be theorised that once the public is more used to electric vehicles and scepticism has been tackled, we could see insurance costs reduce in turn.

When you add up the upfront costs and insurance, you could be spending upwards of £44,525 to have an electric car covered and prepared for driving on the roads. If we assume this average extends to the battery size, a 60 kWh battery costs around £15 to recharge fully. With most EVs able to achieve three miles per kWh, a fully charged 60 kWh can fetch you 180 miles

Comparing that to the price of petrol which is fluctuating daily, but is currently around £1.65 per litre or £7.36 per gallon, the average car is around 36 miles per gallon, which makes electric cars more efficient to drive. Plus, with increasing purchases and registrations of new electric cars, it’s likely that we’ll see the overall costs for buying not only being brought down but will cost you less over the course of ownership than petrol.

EV running and refuelling costs make a difference