Electric car economy costs

Fancy cutting your petrol or diesel costs, but not sure if going electric will save you money? Keep reading to find out

James Wilson
Jan 22, 2020

Not sure whether going electric is just good for the planet or good for your wallet, too? As with petrol and diesel cars, some electric cars chew through more fuel than others. That means that while some models are super cheap to charge, others could cost you much more to travel the same distance.

So, how will electric car economy impact your wallet? Well, this depends on how much it costs to charge your car and how far it can travel per charge, which is influenced by a range of factors. The big ones are time (both how long the car is plugged in, and at what time of day), location, charging point type and even who owns the charging station if you're plugging in away from home.

Due to the large number of potential variables, we are going to focus on three examples of charging at home, as this will likely be the charge point motorists use most regularly. Below is a table which shows the typical cost per 100 miles for the main electric cars on sale in the UK.

A couple of things to consider before reading below; Economy 7 refers to an energy tariff which charges significantly less for electricity at night - meaning you're better off charging the car overnight - but more for electricity during peak times i.e. during the day. The prices used for the numbers below are based on average UK energy price data.


Also, all figures are provided using official ranges as tested under the latest WLTP economy test. A few models still come with ranges as tested under the outdated - and less accurate - NEDC test procedure, and as these figures would be artificially low compared with others in the table, they have been omitted.

MakeModelClaimed Economy Figure (m/kWh)Cost of 100 miles of travel (Economy 7, day time charging)Cost of 100 miles of travel (Economy 7, night time charging)Cost of 100 miles of travel using standard energy tariff
BMWI3 120 Ah4.6£4.12£1.97£3.42
HyundaiIonic Electric5.0£3.80£1.82£3.15
HyundaiKona Electric4.2£4.52£2.17£3.75
RenaultZoe R110 Z.E.404.2£4.52£2.17£3.75
SmartEQ ForTwo4.0£4.75£2.28£3.93
SmartEQ ForFour3.8£5.00£2.39£4.14
TeslaModel S Perfomance3.7£5.14£2.46£4.26
TeslaModel X Long Range3.1£6.13£2.94£5.08
TeslaModel 34.7£4.04£1.94£3.35


One thing to remember at this point is that, even at their most expensive, electric cars are still cheaper to run than the most economical of diesel engines - a 1.5-litre Ford Fiesta Zetec will cost around £7.50 for 100 miles worth of fuel with current fuel prices.

So, the conclusion? Even the least efficient electric cars should cost notably less to fuel than very economical petrol or diesel models. However, getting an efficient electric car could still save you a lot compared with one that burns through more electricity.


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