Blue electric car being charged

How much does it cost to run an electric car?

Driving an electric car could save you money. Here's all the information you need.

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By Cazoo editorial team

What are running costs?

‘Running costs’ describes how much money it’ll cost you to keep your car on the road. With your electric car, this includes everything from charging to servicing and insurance. You may also want to factor in the monthly costs of paying for the car on finance, and the amount the car could depreciate in value when you eventually come to sell it.

How much does it cost to run an electric car vs a petrol one?

The cost per mile of running an electric car can be much lower than with a petrol car. Electric motors are much simpler than petrol engines, which means you could benefit from lower maintenance costs. Charging the battery can be less expensive than filling up with petrol, and electric cars are largely exempt from taxes and clean air zone charges. Some councils even offer free parking permits for electric cars, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds if you park on-street. If you combine these savings, the amount of money you would pay to run an electric car day-to-day is likely to be significantly less than with a petrol or diesel car.

Electric cars generally cost more to produce – and therefore buy –than a petrol or diesel equivalent, and if you’re buying on finance that can push up your monthly costs. However, with demand for electric cars rising all the time, if you buy your EV outright you may find it’s worth more than a petrol or diesel equivalent when you come to sell it on.

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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The cost of charging your electric car’s battery depends on the type of charger you use. Home charging through a wallbox device is likely to be the least expensive method, especially if you take advantage of home energy tariffs that give you a better price for electricity at off-peak times. Charge your empty battery overnight and, as of June 2022, you you could pay as little as £5 to have a fully charged electric car in the morning.

From 2022, new homes and buildings in the UK are required by law to have electric car charging points installed, which will increase the amount of chargers and make inexpensive, convenient charging simpler for more people.

An increasing number of workplaces offer free charging facilities, as do larger supermarkets and even hospitals. The cost of on-street public chargers varies and depends on the energy provider. They can be substantially more expensive than home charging, but most suppliers will let you take out a subscription to reduce the cost. Some companies will also give you free parking while you charge.

Rapid charging tends to be the most expensive way to recharge your electric car but as the name suggests, it’s super-quick. Most electric cars can be charged to 80% battery capacity in less than an hour, and sometimes in as little as 20 minutes. Again, the cost is set by the provider but some car manufacturers, like Tesla, offer their customers free rapid charging using the company’s own Supercharger network.

Do you have to pay tax on an electric car?

One of the many perks of driving an electric car is the financial benefit you get from a number of exemptions. Owning an electric car means you don’t pay Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) or fuel duty. As well as qualifying for tax breaks, electric cars are exempt from congestion zone charges and low emission zone charges.

How much does it cost to maintain my electric car?

The costs you’ll pay to run an electric car will include cleaning, repairs, breakdown cover, servicing and replacement tyres. Although the exact costs will vary by model, electric cars can be considerably more affordable to maintain than petrol or diesel equivalents. They have fewer moving mechanical parts, chiefly because they don’t have an engine. That means there aren’t as many individual elements to repair, and they don’t need oil, so that means no oil changes. But you’ll still need to check things like brake fluid and coolant just as you would with a non-electric car.

All cars are required to have an MOT test when they turn three years old, and electric cars are no exception. The process is the same as for a petrol or diesel car MOT, except there’s no emissions test or noise test. How much the MOT costs depends on the garage or dealership you use, but by law, you should never be charged more than £54.85. Plenty of workshops charge less.

How much does it cost to insure an electric car?

What you’ll pay to insure your electric car depends on your insurer. Most plans cover, at minimum, issues with the battery, damage, fire and theft, as well as issues with the charger and cable, and liability costs if you cause an accident. Breakdown cover is also included by some insurance companies.

Lots of firms will also cover over-the-air (OTA) updates for your electric car. In a similar way to your smartphone or computer updating itself while you sleep, some electric car manufacturers send the latest software updates to your car wirelessly. These can sometimes increase the power and performance, or generally change aspects of the car, which could invalidate regular insurance policies.

You should check that over-the-air software updates are included in your insurance package to ensure that any changes don’t invalidate your cover.

As more firms offer specialist electric-car cover, premium prices are likely to drop. Although the cost has been falling each year, electric cars still tend to be a bit more expensive to insure than petrol or diesel cars.

Make sure you don’t auto-renew your insurance, because you may well find a less expensive option if you shop around before your current policy ends.

An easier way to find or sell a car

You’ll find lots of used cars for sale at Cazoo, all available to buy through our trusted dealers.

Cazoo makes selling a car just as easy – just enter a few details for an instant online valuation. If you accept the offer our partners will get in touch to arrange payment and collection of your car at a time that suits you.

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