How Much Does an Electric Car Cost to Run?

As we approach an electric future, it’s easy to get confused over the cost of running an electric vehicle (EV). Your location, the time of day, and the EV model all play a role in your outgoing expenses, but a big silver lining in this variety is that there will indefinitely be an EV that matches your exact budget needs. As more people become aware of the long-term savings of EVs, it's essential to understand the costs of their ownership. From charging costs to government incentives, find out below just how much an electric car costs to run so you can future-proof your budget!

Buying an Electric Car

The turbulent cost of living puts pressure on our need to reach for an affordable, yet sustainably effective mode of transportation. Pair this with the approaching ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, and the prospect of owning an EV turns from an option into a norm. Due to their emerging technologies, EVs generally have a higher upfront cost than their longer-existing combustion counterparts. This is the main source of hesitancy in buying an EV, unfortunately casting a shadow over the greater savings that will be achieved during their ownership.

It's through this focus on the immediate future that the marginally lower costs of combustion engines are preferred, yet as we see time again, the most pressing costs of vehicle ownership exist on a longer, scaled-forward future. While an ever-expanding EV market means lower charging prices and more cost-saving incentives, their modern technology also means less maintenance and fewer tax traps. Let’s investigate these money-saving benefits to truly see the cost of running an electric car.  

How Much Does an Electric Car Cost to Run?

Just like a combustion-driven vehicle, EVs are faced with the same general expenses that must be accounted for in our daily budget. Maintenance, road tax, and insurance are but a few familiar terms that may also apply to EVs, while refuelling is replaced with the process of charging.

Tax - Currently, electric cars benefit from not paying road tax due to their zero-emission nature. This is a big tick on the side of buying an EV, but this has also caused division because as more EVs are driven, less road tax will be paid – and of course, road tax is a vital source of income for government expenditure. Hence, EVs will be charged the same £165 tax a year from 2025, which is a reasonably low premium.

Maintenance - Because maintenance has been such a large expense in the ownership of combustion vehicles, it’s natural to apply the same fears to EVs. However, EVs are not hindered by the same mechanical degradation as combustion engines, or at least not to the same effect. Combustion vehicles have weak points, such as timing belts, exhausts, fluids and more that are commonly red-flagged in a garage. EVs luckily don’t share the same design setbacks, and benefit from the ‘less-is-more’ mentality. This means they pass more MOT tests, fail less often due to fewer moving parts, and ultimately remain at a higher performance range for longer.

Charging - There’s also EV charging, a nuanced and important topic - therefore covered in the following section.

Battery - While the fear of EV range anxiety is fading into the past, it’s the fear of battery life and in turn, its expensive replacement that lingers. However, it’s the little benefits tied into an EV that should be looked out for; most importantly their warranties. It’s not uncommon to see an EV hit miles up to six-figure before any battery replacement, and that is why many manufacturers are very serious about their warranties. For example, the Hyundai Kona Electric offers an eight-year/125,000-mile warranty on its battery, while MG offers a seven-year/80,000-mile warranty (based on whichever milestone you reach first). With these deals being so common, the battery of an EV becomes an incredibly small concern.

Insurance - When talking about EV insurance, this can be a very case-by-case answer. Cheaper and more common EVs will be provided with a cheaper insurance premium than more luxurious and rare EV models. This is not surprising, as the same concepts are applied to regular combustion vehicles. What is of note, however, is that you may find an EV to have a higher insurance premium than its combustion equivalents due to their newer, more expensive parts and greater performance from stop (i.e., their addictive instant acceleration from rest). Ultimately, the value of your insurance depends on your provider, your EV, yourself, and your final quote.

Depreciation - It’s not at the forefront of everyone’s minds but understanding how a car will hold its value in the future plays a big role in your ultimate expenses. EVs used to be a very small market so their demand was low and therefore their future value wasn’t particularly favourable. But we live in a changing world, and the growing demand for EVs means that they will be even more desirable than combustion vehicles in the future. We are even building our society to incorporate EVs as a status quo, such as clean air zones and congestion charges that all deepen their future value. Naturally, EV batteries will degrade to some degree, but it’s nice to hear that the capacity of an EV battery will need to be significantly impacted for their depreciation to increase and even this will occur on a timeframe that isn’t cause for concern.

What Does an Electric Car Cost Per Mile?

While we’re going to dive into the important topic of charging an electric car just below, here’s a quick idea of how much an electric car costs per mile. It must be noted that the cost per mile depends on how much you originally paid to charge your EV. If we were to look at an efficient EV in each car class, we can find some impressive affordability.

According to Which?, the Hyundai Kona Electric, a compact SUV, will cost you from as low as 3.2p per mile when using a home charger at off-peak times, and up to 21.2p per mile when using more expensive public chargers. Using the same two measures, a small city EV hatchback will cost 3.4p and 22.1p, respectively, while a medium-sized EV hatchback will cost 3.7p and 24.4p, respectively. For larger SUVs, these values increase to around 3.8p and 24.8p, respectively.

It's worth noting a few things here. Firstly, there aren’t just two charging options; you can find home charging costs increase when charging at peak times, and some public chargers will be cheaper than others. Secondly, Which? deduced that once you pay 53p per kWh at any particular charger, you will be paying the equivalent or more per mile than for a diesel version of a similarly sized car. Generally, though, an efficient EV will cover around 5 miles for every kWh, so if you pay 50p per kWh (as commonly found at public charging points), you’ll reach a 10p per mile cost. By this logic, for an EV with a 300-mile range, you will only need to pay £30 to achieve this (although the real figure is far more nuanced than this and most likely cheaper with a home charger).

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car at Home?

Charging your electric car at home is the primary charging option for most EV owners. It offers convenience and the opportunity to take advantage of lower off-peak electricity rates. Understanding the cost implications of home charging is essential to managing your budget effectively. EV owners aim to find the best home energy tariff that is specifically designed for electric vehicle charging because these tariffs offer discounted rates at off-peak hours and more. When it comes to charging, there are three levels and each offers faster charging – however, home charging is commonly found at Level 1 (through a 120V charger provided by most EVs). Level 2 (240V) requires a dedicated charging station and Level 3 (fast charging) is found in public stations.

There is also the consideration of installing an EV home charger, typically costing around £1000 although this can be reduced through certain schemes (such as the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS)) which is open to applications from those living in rented accommodation, flat owners, landlords or business owners. You may also want to consider the number of hours your EV will take to charge on a home charger to ensure your traffic covers these hours. There are also smart home energy tariffs which allow you to control when your EV is charged (i.e., only at off-peak times such as between 11 pm and 5 am).

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car at Work?

The growth of public charging stations is a welcome addition to the prospect of EV charging, tying in comfortably with home charging. However, the convenience of charging your EV at work isn’t just found in its proximity. Public chargers are commonly integrated with Level 3 chargers which can take charge times down to as quick as 20 minutes as found on the IONIQ 5. Rapid chargers are expectedly the most expensive option, costing as much as 40p/kWh, although this can still be cheaper than the running costs of some combustion cars.

The cost of charging your electric car at a public charge point is dependent on factors like the network you are using and your location. Many local authorities offer a pay-per-session approach to on-street chargers, where you pay for each charging session. Some networks provide free access to their chargers if you have a network subscription. The cost also depends on the power rating of the charger, which can be categorized as slow (e.g., lamppost charging), fast (e.g., car parks), or rapid (e.g., motorway service stations).

As a rule of thumb, you sacrifice some cost-effectiveness at public chargers for time effectiveness. The choice between the two lies in your hands. While the figures above are provided based on examples, your expenses may vary. To understand what exactly you will be paying, contact our experts or join us in our dealerships to discuss your budgeting needs.

EV Schemes and Benefits

If the cost-effectiveness of EVs hasn’t enticed you just yet, perhaps the abundance of EV government schemes and benefits will. The emergence of electric charging cards is an exciting addition to the market, which behave similarly to smartphone apps where their use will allow you to use major UK charging networks. This operates on a membership scheme and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

The UK government is aiming to achieve a fully comprehensive charging network so that no driver will ever be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station. This goal has attracted £1.6 billion of funding to develop the EV charging infrastructure of the nation. The remaining funding will be directed toward incentives and schemes to assist the public to shift towards an EV-focused automotive world.

The UK is one of the most practical places to live with an EV since it has the densest population of rapid chargers per 100 miles. To make matters even more exciting, the Rapid Charing Fund (RCF) aims to increase the number of these charging stations via a £950 million grant – essentially guaranteeing a fully capable electrified motorway network. As mentioned, the EVHS will make home charging that much more accessible, but on top of this, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) make work life that much more convenient. In the WCS, workplaces are covered up to 40 charging points and a discount of up to £350 per socket.

On-street Residential ChargePoint Scheme (ORCS) supports local authorities who aim to install charge points in residential streets. Open to local governments, the ORCS can fund up to 60% of the overhead costs, from parts to installation. Another handy benefit surrounding EV ownership is the Plug-in Car Grant, which discounts some new low-emission vehicles automatically within the price tag, further increasing the appeal of EVs.

Get Ahead of the Crowd

Running an electric car offers significant cost benefits over time with lower fuel and maintenance costs, government incentives, and cheap charging options. With an expanding EV infrastructure occurring before us, owning an electric car is becoming an increasingly feasible and sustainable choice for individuals and businesses alike. We at Eden have a broad selection of EV stock that is available at the press of a button via our Electric Models page. From SUVs to compact hatchbacks, there’s an EV which will tick all your boxes – find out today via our website or by contacting one of our team today!