Electric Cars

Electric vs. Petrol Debate

Even as recently as early 2022, it was easy to do your sums on running an electric vehicle vs petrol or diesel. Electricity was relatively cheap and petrol prices were climbing each month. Now, though, both of those metrics have reversed.

With various factors, including the situation in Ukraine, ensuring that gas prices have been at eye-watering levels (though they’re now, thankfully, falling) and have pushed up the price of electricity. And at the same time, the prices of petrol and diesel have dropped from their previous record-breaking levels.

For the anti-EV brigade of course, that was all the excuse they needed to (falsely) declare that EVs were no longer as cheap to run as a traditional petrol car. EV fans conversely were claiming that they were still saving money.

So who is right?

Let’s break down the numbers and do some basic comparisons…

Before we start, it goes without saying that we need to make some generalisations. Both petrol and electric cars differ both in size and efficiency, so we’re going to assume that we have a petrol car that does 40mpg and an EV that does 3.5miles per kWh. In both types, some cars will do more, and some will do less, but we feel that’s a fair middle ground for each. We’re also going to assume a typical annual mileage of 10,000 miles.

For the price of petrol, we’re going to assume a price of £1.50 per litre (£6.82 per gallon for those reading in black and white) although again this is constantly fluctuating. For those 10,000 miles we mentioned at that 40mpg economy, that comes to £1705 exactly.

For an EV, things are a little trickier, so you’ll have to bear with us. At the time of writing, the price of domestic electricity is capped at 34p/kWh. So, if you did all of your EV charging at that rate, you would spend £971.43 for those same 10,000 miles

That’s already a substantial saving, but the news can get better. There are now many off-peak domestic electricity tariffs available for EV owners which can bring your overnight price down considerably to as low as 10p/kWh. If you manage to do all the charging at those overnight rates, then those same 10,000 miles could cost you as little as… are you sitting down?…. £285.71. And no, that’s not a misprint.

It’s why so many companies encourage EV owners to look seriously at their domestic electricity tariffs as the savings can be so big. Imagine a traditional filling station offering petrol at a third of the normal price, but only very late at night. Despite the unsociable hour, people would be queuing in their slippers and pyjamas to get a good deal. Instead with an EV though, there’s no need, the filling station is at your own home, you just need to plug your car into its charger, set it to charge at a particular time and let it do all the hard work.

In fact, you’d have to pay a whopping 59p/kWh before you matched the same cost as that petrol car. Yes, it’s true that you may pay that, and sometimes more, at some ultra-rapid public chargers. It’s also likely that very few, if any, owners will be using those on a daily basis. Instead, those are more likely to be a quick charge on the road as a stop-gap before charging fully at home.

So there you have it, a saving of more than £800 for switching from a petrol car to an electric one or, if you’re clever with your home electricity tariff, a very-tempting saving of over £1400. For all the falling petrol prices and rising electricity costs, don’t believe the hype, an EV is still the way to go.

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