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How much is an electric car? Electric car prices and running costs

Find out how much an electric car costs to buy and run, as well as some of the cheapest electric cars on the market

A woman in a red t-shirt plugging in a charger to an electric car

The cost of an electric car

The cost of an electric car is one of the main concerns that many motorists have when making the switch.

This includes both how much it is to buy an electric vehicle (EV) and the running costs over time.

Many motorists are experiencing EVs for the first time as they prepare for the ban on petrol and diesel car sales, which is coming into effect in 2035.

Thankfully, the switch doesn’t need to be expensive.

EVs are now widely available on the used car market and are very reasonable to run and maintain.

In fact, in many ways, they’re cheaper than petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles.

Electric car prices

The cost of buying an electric car will, of course, depend on the model you choose.

A top-spec 2022 edition of a BMW iX can set you back around £104,000 on the used market, while a 2017 used Nissan Leaf will cost closer to £11,000.

There are all-electric sports cars on offer too, such as the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT, and these are on the higher end of the budget – even on the used market.

Some popular mid-range models include the Hyundai IONIQ, Peugeot 2008 and Tesla Model 3.

You can choose to drop some serious cash on a used EV, but you can also find a well-priced model that’s high-quality and suited for everyday life. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

A great option for a cheap electric car that's high quality is the Nissan Leaf - a model that was the best-selling EV in the world.

The Smart EQ Fortwo is another great option for a cheap used electric car, and the Kia Soul EV is ideal for something bigger.

Tesla Model 3

What are the running costs of an electric car?

Once you’ve bought any car, the costs don’t stop after purchasing and you’ll be committed to the running and maintenance of your vehicle for as long as you own it.

The running costs that come with an electric car are usually cheaper than those that come with Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

Electric car tax

While you still need to tax your electric car, you won’t have to pay anything to do so. EVs are currently exempt from vehicle tax until April 2025.

With electric hybrid cars, the road tax rate is based on the amount of CO2 emissions the car produces.

In this case, the lower your emissions, the lower your vehicle tax will be.

Electric car insurance

There aren’t many differences between insuring a fuel-powered car and an EV, other than you may find that electric models can be more expensive to insure.

Car insurance for EVs can be higher based on the fact they have much quicker acceleration than ICE vehicles.

And just like with fuel-powered models, if you want something fierce and quick, you’ll have to pay more for the insurance.

Models are also more expensive to buy, so the insurer would have to pay out more for a replacement.

However, choosing a cheaper EV that’s not particularly performance-focused and is more for everyday use can keep the costs down.

Electric car maintenance

The maintenance of electric cars is usually cheaper than the upkeep of ICE models.

This is because EVs have fewer hot and oily engine parts that need maintaining and that could go wrong.

Considering that your EV will have no oil to change, no spark plugs to replace, and no exhausts to keep an eye on, there’s much less work that will go into maintaining an EV.

You might be concerned about the need to replace the EV’s battery, but the short answer is you’ll likely never have to do this.

It’s been proven by the large range of EVs on the used market with high mileage racked up that these batteries can withstand the test of time.

Manufacturers agree as well, with them usually offering longer warranties for batteries and motors than those that come with ICE cars.

You might find that battery health can decline over time, but it shouldn’t ever be at a rate that causes any major issues.

A close up of a charger plugged into an EV and the body of a man using his phone

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The cost of charging an electric car will depend on how you choose to charge it.

You’ll likely be doing most of your charging at home and, depending on your electricity tariff, you can usually expect it to cost around £17 for a full charge of a 60kWh EV.

You’ll very rarely need a full charge though and can mostly rely on top-ups when needed.

You can also switch to a specific electricity tariff for EV charging or could even invest in solar panels to cut the costs per charge even lower.

Charging at a public location – like a supermarket or car park – can be free of charge.

This might change as EVs become the standard on our roads, but you can get a free boost for now while you’re out and about.

You might also be able to charge for free at your workplace.

This might even mean that you won’t need to charge at home at all, since many of us spend a good chunk of time at the office and can plug in while we work.

You’ll likely find the biggest cost of charging come from rapid charging points at service stations.

While these can give you a good boost in a short amount of time, you can expect to pay around £22 for a 30-minute charge.

The benefits of an electric car

Switching to an EV definitely has its benefits, and we’ll inevitably have to do it sooner or later – so why not get ahead of the curve?

  • Reduced running costs from less maintenance and cheap charging

  • Skip out on road tax until April 2025

  • Avoid ULEZ and congestion charges

  • Charge for free in some locations – it’s unlikely we’ll be getting free petrol anytime soon!

  • Better for the environment thanks to lower emissions

  • There are government grants on offer to help cover the costs

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