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How much are electric cars to buy and run?

5 minutes

Thinking of switching to an electric car but concerned about the purchase price? Find out how much they typically cost to buy and run with our handy guide.

  • As demand for electric cars increases, new models are being released and prices are falling
  • The average electric vehicle still costs more than a petrol or diesel model, but running costs are lower
  • The price of the cheapest electric car currently starts at a little over £21,000
 

If you’re thinking of switching from petrol and diesel, you’ll probably have some questions about the cost of electric cars.

Electric cars are growing in popularity, with more on our roads and a wider choice available than ever before. A few years ago, it seemed the only options were a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla Roadster. But today almost every major manufacturer has at least one electric vehicle in their range.

In 2018, nearly 60,000 alternatively fuelled cars were sold in the UK, representing a 21% increase on the previous year. These figures include both battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, excluding hybrid diesel and petrol-electric models. There are a number of factors behind the rise in demand, such as greater awareness, better technology and the availability of more affordable options.

If you’re thinking of switching from petrol and diesel, you’ll probably have some questions about the cost of electric cars. Unless you’ve owned one before, it can be hard to work out the value of ownership against the initial outlay. Here are some the most important cost considerations to help you make a decision.
 

How much does it cost to buy an electric car?

The price of an electric car varies a fair bit from model to model and will largely depend on whether you’re looking to buy new, used or on finance. Generally, electric cars are more expensive to purchase than their petrol or diesel equivalents. However, the cost of running an electric car can make the extra initial outlay worth it in the long run.
 
One of the cheapest new electric cars available is the Renault ZOE, which starts from £21,200. At the other end of the scale is the Tesla Model X, which will set you back anywhere between £80,500 and £138,000. 
 
Here are starting prices for some of the other most popular electric cars* in the UK:
 
*All information correct as of March 2019
 
The government currently offers a grant for some low-emission vehicles to help reduce the purchase cost. This grant covers 35% of the price up to a maximum of £3,500. All the above vehicles are eligible, along with others that produce less than 50g/km of CO² and can travel for at least 70 miles without producing any emissions.
 
Check out our guide to find out more about the government grants available for electric cars.
 

How much does it cost to install a home charging point?

Once you buy an electric car, you’ll need somewhere to charge it. On average, a home charging point costs around £1,000 to buy and install. The government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides grants of up to 75% towards this cost. There’s an upper limit of £500, but it can still be a big help.
 
A home charging point provides a number of advantages compared to conventional plug sockets and public charging stations:
 
  • Offers the extra convenience of being able to charge at home
  • Reduces charging time by 30-60%
  • Includes built-in safety features
  • Costs around £3.64 for a full charge (based on a 30kWh Nissan Leaf)

The cost of running an electric car can make the extra initial outlay worth it in the long run.

The costs of running an electric car

Electric car battery cost

Since 2012, electric vehicle battery prices have decreased. However, it’s still the large, technologically advanced battery packs that mean electric cars remain more expensive than their petrol and diesel equivalents. Often, part of the cost is the ongoing expense of leasing the battery from the manufacturer. 

Renault is one of the first manufacturers to offer the option of buying the battery pack outright with the car. The electric car battery cost for the Renault ZOE is around £7,800*, compared to leasing one for £59 a month. 

The cost of replacing an electric car battery depends on its size and the manufacturer.

However, electric car batteries should last at least 8 years before they need replacing. This means many drivers won’t have to worry about it when buying new or getting an electric car on finance. 

*All information correct as of March 2019

Electric car charging cost

The cost of charging an electric car will depend on the battery size, manufacturer, as well as where you charge it. There are thousands of public charging points across the UK, with some workplaces even providing them for employees to use. Motorway service stations often have rapid charging stations available but charge a fee to use them.

Installing a charging point at home is also an option. As previously mentioned, this involves paying for installation and electricity, which costs around £3.64 for a full charge with a 30kWh Nissan Leaf. See our guide to learn more about the cost of charging an electric car .

Electric car vs petrol/diesel cost

The lower tax charged on electric cars and the fact you no longer have to cover fuel costs can make them an attractive option. However, bear in mind that electric cars generally cost more to buy than traditional cars. Whether it works out cheaper in the long-term will depend on the exact model, length of ownership and condition of the electric car in question. 

One advantage for electric car owners is that they could actually earn money back through something called vehicle to grid (V2G) technology. This will allow energy stored in electric vehicles to be fed back into the national electricity grid. Two-way electric car chargers are currently in development and going through a trial phase. If successful, it could be possible for drivers to sell back energy stored in their electric cars at times of peak demand.

Not only would this mean you’re doing your bit for the environment, it would also help make electric car ownership even more cost-effective.  LV= offers electric car insurance - see what's covered here.