How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
‘How much does it cost to charge an electric car?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions asked by people about to make the switch from petrol to electric cars. The vast volume of marketing material on electric cars or electric car chargers use the “5 times adage” alluding that running an electric car is five times cheaper than a regular car. If you read on, you’ll find that it’s still achievable, however for most people it will be “3 times cheaper” which is still good going.
Of course, there are added benefits to owning an electric car – such as savings on road tax and the warm and fuzzy feeling that you’re doing the right thing for the planet.
Although electricity prices are going up steeply in 2022, so are petrol prices. Most blogs and consumer guides out there base their cost to charge an electric car calculations on old prices so it sometimes makes you pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming. Yes, there was a time when a kWh of electricity cost 14p but those days are gone and today we’re going to pay 26p per kWh as our average energy cost for the UK. If you get it cheaper than 26p, pat yourself on the back!
When it comes to calculating the cost of using an electric car, you must take into account pence per litre of petrol and compare it to pence per kilowatt hour for an equivalent electric car.
A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of energy used to represent usage of 1,000 watts of electric power for an hour. For example, lighting a 100W light bulb for an hour will consume 0.1 kWh of energy.
Using kWh as a point of reference makes life easy because we know what we’re paying per kWh of electricity and also an electric car battery capacity is measured in kWh. An average electric car has a battery capacity of 60kWh.
How many kWh of electricity do electric cars use?
How much is that expressed in miles? Let’s look at the most sold electric cars in the UK in 2021. How good are they at converting electric power to miles driven? Here’s a handy little table with all the figures that we need. As you can see, the battery capacity and presumed electric car range is all over the place.
Cheapest electric car to charge
|Car model||Range, m||Battery capacity, kWh||Efficiency m per kWh||Cost to charge||Pence per m||Charge time, h|
|Tesla Model 3||310||75||4.1||£19.50||6.3||10.1|
|Volkswagen ID 3||330||82||4.0||£21.32||6.5||11.1|
|Hyundai Kona E||270||64||4.2||£16.64||6.2||8.6|
|MG ZS EV||159||45||3.6||£11.57||7.3||6.0|
|Average petrol car||450||–||–||£81.00||18.0||–|
Why so? Well, because advancement in hardware and software is quite varied when it comes to different electric car manufacturers. In layman’s terms – some manufacturers have their game sussed while others are still finding their feet. There is still a lot of innovation to apply both in terms of hardware and software. The only way is up for electric car batteries. You will see that in the next couple of years there will come several ground-breaking innovations making electric cars even more efficient.
What we really want from our electric cars is for their batteries to weigh as little as possible and for them to give us a range as high as possible. This is where electric car efficiency comes into play.
What is the best way to measure an electric car efficiency?
Miles per kWh. How many miles can each electric car drive on a single kWh chunk of energy? The higher the number the better. The kind of go-to standard these days is 4.2 miles per kWh. Anything below 4.0 is a bit disappointing. The holy grail is 5.0 miles per kWh but so far none of the mainstream electric car manufacturers have managed to hit that level.
Now that we know how much electricity an electric car uses, let’s look at how much does it cost to charge an electric car?
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
Let’s not avert the question any longer. To fully charge an electric car using an EV home charger costs around £17 on a standard expensive electricity tariff. This is the worst-case scenario and it’s assuming you’re paying 26p per kWh. If your energy supplier has put you on a tariff that is below the ceiling price or better yet if you’re generating your own electricity through photovoltaic panels or wind generation, you’ll be looking at a much lower price.
Here’s an interesting bit about the petrol car vs electric car debate. The amount you pay for petrol is more or less fixed. You may make a few pennies-worth of savings driving around looking for a cheaper pump, however that benefit is quite questionable. When it comes to electric cars, you’re much more in control. You can shop around for a better tariff a dedicated electric car tariff or even switch to self-generating electricity thus making big savings.
Like we said, the table represents the worst-case scenario, and you should be able to bring the charging cost right down. According to our calculation, one mile in an average electric car costs 6p.
In comparison, a petrol car will set you back 18p per mile so you will make three-fold fuel savings by switching to an electric car. Potentially more – it all depends on electricity source you use. Think about it this way: expensive electricity generated by burning fossil fuels and you’re making no difference whatsoever. Choose a greener electricity source and shop around for a better tariff and you’re winning – both for your wallet and for the planet!
Historical Energy Prices in the UK 2000 – 2022
The first plug-in car was sold in the UK back in 2000 which was the 2nd generation Toyota Prius hybrid. Ok, officially, the first one is Thomas Parker’s 1884 electric carriage. If you happen to know what electricity prices were like back in Victorian times, do let us know. So, let’s take a little tour back in history and check how the electricity price and petrol price has changed during the last two decades. How does it compare between the first Prius owner and today’s all-bells-and-whistles electric car owners’ outlay.
Historical Electricity Prices and Petrol Prices in the UK 2000 – 2022
|Year||Electricity price per kWh||Petrol price per litre|
However, the real measurement of impact of electricity prices on our daily lives is revealed when you compare the median UK wage with the percentage of the wage spent on electricity.
According to some recent studies, UK households consume between 3,000 and 5,000 kWh of electricity per year. To simplify calculations, we will take the average electricity consumption for bungalows and detached houses, which is around 4,100 kWh per year.
Plotting that onto the annual median wage chart provided by Office for National Statistics, we find that we’re currently spending more than 3% of our wages on electricity and it’s likely to go up. Looking back at year 2003, the times when we used to spend just 1.3% of our wages on electricity seems distant memory. In fact, 2009 was the last year that saw us spending less than 2% on electricity. The global recession changed this proportion forever. Then finally the Covid pandemic notched that proportion to over 3%.
Although it’s obvious that the median wage has also gone up significantly, it doesn’t quite manage to catch up with the energy prices. However, let’s look at the positives.
Median wage vs household electricity bill
|Year||Median wage||Electricity bill||Percent of wage|
How much do motorists spend on fuel pear year in the UK?
On average, petrol and diesel together, a motorist will fill up £1,300 worth of fuel in their car per year. That’s 4% of a median UK salary. If you’re an electric car owner, you’re probably looking at just a third of that bill. So, despite the rising electricity price, switching to an electric car is still a wise long-term move as you’re both looking to save money off your fuel bill and do the right thing for the environment.
The cost of electric vehicles is going down, and they are becoming increasingly popular. The fear of range anxiety is slowly subsiding as technology advances and the network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure improves.
So, to answer the question – “How much does it cost to charge an electric car?”, we can say that it depends on your electricity tariff, but you can expect to spend between £300 and £500 per year to charge an electric car. If you’re on a median wage, that’s about 1.26% of your salary.
Summary & Electric Car Cost FAQ
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
It will cost around £17 to fully charge an electric car on a standard electricity tariff
How much does electric car cost per mile driven?
Approximately 6p per mile
What is more expensive to run – electric car or a petrol car?
It’s at least 3 times cheaper to drive an electric car. It’s 6p per mile on electric vs 18p per mile on a petrol car.
So how about this promise that electric cars are 5 times cheaper than petrol cars?
To be able to achieve that, you need to buy a kWh of electricity at 15.6p instead of settling for the full 26p per kWh. Is that realistic? Yes it is, you can still get close to that by switching tariffs regularly and shopping around for a good deal. Or better yet, consider generating electricity for yourself by installing photovoltaic panels or a wind generator. Yes, the initial outlay is eye-watering but it all buys itself back within 5 years or less.
Why choose VoltEase?
What if we all could work together towards a future with greener traffic…
Home electric car charging guides
Although electric cars have taken the car market in leaps and bounds in the recent years, home ev charging still involves a lot of unknowns for the users. We will try to answer some of the important questions our customers ask regularly.