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Electric vehicles vs. fuel powered – which are cheaper to run?

Switching to an electric vehicle can be more expensive to get set-up, but the running costs overtime are usually much cheaper

As the used electric car market gets bigger, it’s becoming much more accessible to get on the road while ditching fossil fuels. An electric vehicle (EV) is a great way to reduce your CO2 output, but could also help you reduce those monthly bills.

Charging your EV doesn’t have to be expensive, and can definitely help you dodge the rising costs of fuel. Maintenance is also often cheaper, as fewer oily engine parts mean there’s usually less that can go wrong.

The cost of purchasing a used EV might be a bit higher than a fuel-powered car, but that’s because EVs will usually be newer.

Fuel vs Electric – which is cheaper to buy?

On the current market, you can grab a used fuel-powered model at a cheaper price than you can get a used electric model. This will likely change over time, but electric models are still new and aren’t as widely available.

It might be the better option for some motorists to pay more initially to purchase an electric car, as you can likely make some savings on fuel and upkeep in the future.

Opting for a cheap used petrol or diesel model might not be the best decision for the long term, as older models are likely to need more work for wear and tear.

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Weighing up the switch to an electric car


  • Cheaper to run (including maintenance, charging etc)

  • Can use off-peak charging times between 12am and 5am – can schedule car to charge at certain times

  • Free road tax

Things to consider:

  • Upfront or monthly costs can be higher

  • Insurance is traditionally more

  • Living costs are increasing, so the cost of charging might change

How much does it cost to fit an electric car charging point?

One thing to consider when switching to an EV is the initial cost of fitting a charging point. You might choose to do this if you want a dedicated charging area at your home, and there are government grants that can help you do this.

If you live somewhere without off-road parking or will struggle to charge your car at your address, there are other ways that you can charge up – sometimes even for free!

The initial cost of fitting an at-home charging point currently sits between £800 to £1,500. This doesn’t mean you have to install a charging point, as you can still use a standard EV charger to plug into your sockets at home.

Charging up vs fuelling up – how much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The cost of charging your electric car will depend on a few factors, including where you’re charging and what kind of charger you’re using.

You can shop around for the electricity tariff with the lowest rates to cut down on the costs of charging at home. You can expect to pay around £15 per full charge at a home charging point, and depending on how often you drive, you should be able to make that last you the full week.

Driving the daily commute or getting the school run done is unlikely to eat through a full charge, so you might not need to plug in that regularly.

In comparison, the price of fuel will depend on the size of your car and whether you favour a petrol or diesel model.

As fuel prices in the UK continue to rise, June 2022 saw the first time in the UK where the cost of filling an average 55-litre family care rose above £100.

Both fuel prices and electricity prices fluctuate regularly, so it’s a good idea to check the rates in your area to make an accurate comparison.

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Will an electric car save help me save money?

Choosing an electric car might seem more expensive as you make the switch, but the running costs and upkeep is usually cheaper.

You’ll be able to skip out on the maintenance that comes with oily engines, with fewer parts and functions to worry about. You can also find spots to charge your EV for free or find out the off-peak times in your area to save money on electricity bills.

For those initial costs, there are grants on offer than can help foot the bill. You also get those handy discounts for things like road tax and congestion charges.

Are electric cars cheaper to maintain?

There are a few things you get to skip out on if you choose an electric car – no oil changes, fewer engine parts to wear down, and easier maintenance all round. The initial costs of purchasing an electric car might be higher, but you can make savings in the long term by choosing to switch.

As electric cars don’t have transmissions, there are no extra moving parts to take care of. You’ll just have the battery, motor, and the electronics to think about – much more low maintenance, even in a used model.

How much is electric car maintenance?

Although electric cars are often slightly more expensive to buy, the overall maintenance costs are usually lower. Electric drivetrains are a simpler set-up and have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines, so they require less upkeep overall.

Your electric car will still need maintenance for things like tyres and brakes, so you should factor that in when weighing up your options.

Wear and tear is also inevitable, but you can keep your EV in sparkling condition by always keeping on top of the maintenance and treating it well.

The main things you should make sure to be on top of are:

  • Tyres

  • Brakes

  • Windscreens, wipers and washer fluid

  • Battery repair or replacement (very rare)

  • General bits and bobs that all other cars face

Do you have to pay road tax for an electric car?

Good news – you don’t currently need to pay for road tax on electric vehicles. If your car has zero emissions, then that means zero road tax for you.

Unfortunately, hybrid cars (including plug-in hybrid cars) are not exempt from road tax. You might still find that road tax is cheaper with hybrid cars, thanks to the lower levels of emissions.

Do you have to pay congestion charges in an electric car?

All electric vehicles are currently exempt from the London Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge. This is ideal if you want to use your electric car for inner-city travelling, and means you could save some money on the daily commute.

Do you have to get an electric car serviced?

Electric cars do still need to be serviced, but you can usually do it every two years depending on the manufacturer.

You’ll usually find that upkeep on an EV is much simpler, as they don’t have as many hot and oily engine parts to go wrong. Servicing will include things like brake fluid changing and a tyre pressure and wear check.

Do you have to MOT an electric vehicle?

You will have to MOT a brand-new EV after the first three years, just like any other car. You’ll skip out on the emissions test however, because you won’t have any emissions to test! You also won't need to undergo noise testing.

You’ll need to get your electric car MOT’d every year after the first test to ensure it says in tip-top running condition.

Electric cars vs petrol/diesel cars

The running costs for electric cars are usually lower than fuel-powered alternatives, but you do have higher initial costs when making the switch to an EV.

EVs have fewer oily engine parts that are likely to go wrong, and you’ll get to skip out on things like oil changes, making them easier to upkeep. Take into account the other discounts (tax and congestion charge exemptions, plus the government grants) and you could be saving yourself some money in the long run.

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