Electric Cars vs Petrol Cars – Which is Cheaper?
By: Alex Barba
30 May 2019
A study which compared fuel, tax, and purchase outlays for Volkswagen Golf car owners who chose either diesel, petrol, hybrid, or electric versions of the car concluded that the electric version was the cheapest to own. This is true not only in the UK, but is also the case in other European countries such as France, Norway, and Germany, amongst others.
The electric cars vs petrol cars debate has gone on for years. While electric vehicles have always held the upper hand in terms of their environmental sustainability, their petrol counterparts have been well in the lead when it comes to technical specs and overall ease of use. However, recent technological developments have all but levelled the playing field. In what follows we will take a look at the current balance of power, in terms of costs to the owner, between electric vehicles and those using internal combustion engines.
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Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Run Than Petrol?
Even though the initial cost of purchasing an electric car is higher than what you’d need to fork out for a fossil fuel burning vehicle, those who stop their comparative analysis here and opt for the latter will end up losing out in the long run. This is because the slightly higher price of electric cars is quickly made up for by maintenance and fuel costs which are much lower than those of internal combustion engine vehicles.
Charging on the street:
Currently there are approximately 13,000 public charging stations UK-wide. The country’s government is set to invest £400 million into the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in order to extend and improve it in the coming years.
Some areas offer free public charging stations, while many large supermarkets and retail stores offer complimentary charging as long as customers shop. IKEA, for example, offers £6 discounts to electric vehicle owners (the amount it costs to charge your car at one of their stations).
Charging at work:
Charging at work can be difficult as it might be problematic to find a charging station that is close enough to your workplace. New legislation which came into effect during mid-2018 should succeed in incentivising business owners to install electric vehicle charging stations close to their offices. The new law means business owners are now no longer required to pay income tax or National Insurance contributions for providing their employees with charging stations at the office.
Furthermore, employers wanting to provide their staff with charging stations at work can access the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS). As part of this scheme, employers will receive funding towards the up-front costs of purchasing and installing electric vehicle charging points.
Perhaps these new legislative incentives will encourage employers to provide their workers with free-to-use charging facilities. Few currently do, with most linking their charge points to the public network, which means employees need to sign up with a particular charging network provider in order to refill their vehicles’ batteries.
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Charging at home:
By far the best option of the three, charging your electric car at home provides the peace of mind which comes from knowing your car is safely charging in your garage. Apart from being less likely to be stolen, charging your electric car in the garage also provides an added financial incentive.
Even though charging at home is slightly more expensive than filling your car’s battery at a public charging station, there is something you can do in order to keep your electricity bills from rising. Most energy tariffs already offer lower electricity prices during the night, when most people will want to charge their electric cars. However, signing up for one of the many energy tariffs designed specifically for electric vehicle owners will save you a lot of money. These tariffs offer even lower unit costs during the night, as well as other incentives, depending on which tariff you end up choosing.
The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) can be accessed by any electric vehicle owner wishing to install a charging station on his property. The EVHS provides 75% of the funding necessary for charge point installation at any domestic property in the UK.
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Cars which burn fossil fuels can be re-filled at any petrol station. While those using these types of vehicles benefit from a more developed infrastructure, they are plagued by much higher fuel prices.
2019 has seen the price of petrol skyrocket. During April, Brits witnessed the price of petrol increase more than it had in almost 20 years. It now costs about £70 on average to fill up a 55-litre family car tank with petrol, while filling the same tank up with diesel costs approximately £73. This makes fuel costs much lower for those driving electric cars.
To put it in simpler terms, it costs electric car owners between £2 and £4 to get 100 miles out of their car. On the other hand, petrol or diesel car drivers pay between £13 and £16 for 100 miles worth of fuel.
Electric cars vs petrol cars - If your electric cars costs less than £40,000, you will be exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty. This means that you could save up to £600 every year by simply making the switch from petrol or diesel to electric.
Furthermore, electric car owners also avoid the fuel tax. In fact, it is estimated that clean fuel initiatives which absolve those driving electric vehicles from paying various taxes will lead to a £79 billion tax shortfall by 2030.
Insurance Premiums –
Is electric car insurance cheaper?
Insurance premiums are slightly higher for electric cars than they are for petrol and diesel ones. This is due to a few factors:
- Electric cars pose a higher risk to pedestrians because they are silent;
- Electric vehicle parts cost more, on average, than those of combustion engine cars;
- Electric car batteries are expensive, and they can only be replaced by specialised mechanics.
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Will Electric Cars Get Cheaper?
With so much money being pumped into electric vehicle technology, cars which run on electric batteries are bound to soon become cheaper in terms of initial purchase costs. While their combustion engine counterparts are currently slightly less expensive, the much lower maintenance costs mentioned above make electric vehicles the cheaper option even in the current market.
Furthermore, grants are available for those wishing to purchase their first electric vehicle. For cars which fall under Category 1 (fully electric), the Plug In Car Grant provides up to 35% of the vehicle’s price, up to a maximum of £3,500. The grant doesn’t even need to be accessed by buyers; the discount should automatically be applied by your car dealer.
The Future is Electric
The major concern of those making the switch from gas or petrol to electric cars is likely to be the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels. However, reduced maintenance costs, government subsidised grants, and much cheaper fuel prices are most probably going to incentivise many to make the switch in the coming years.
With the money you save on fuel and taxes, you can customise your car. Perhaps investing in a vanity number plate would be a good present to gift yourself for doing your part to save the environment. If you’ve grown accustomed to saving money, check out our guide on how to find cheap number plates. Finding a number plate combination that shows off your ecological prowess is definitely possible with the plethora of different groupings made possible by current legislation.
Featured image photo credit: Oleksandr Yuhlichek/Shutterstock