Despite rising energy prices, electric cars are cheaper to run than petrol or diesel 

With rising electricity prices in the UK, the electric vehicle (EV) versus petrol debate has gathered pace, especially when it comes to running costs. Once you get past the upfront ticket price of an electric car, the short and long-term costs attached to electric car ownership are substantially lower than those of traditional combustion engine counterparts. 

The biggest of those overheads is fuel costs, which for an electric car sit at roughly a third of the cost of the average petrol car. This is a huge saving, however, domestic energy tariffs have seen substantial changes for the worse in recent months.

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The energy price cap increased by 54 per cent as of 1 April, with average household bills set to rise by around £700. For electric car owners, that means charging costs are on the up but how badly will that affect overall ownership costs and, perhaps more crucially, running costs versus those of petrol and diesel alternatives?

LeasePlan, one of the leading electric vehicle leasing companies, has a great comparison tool that compares the running costs of leading electric cars versus petrol and diesel models. It breaks the figures down in price per mile, month and yearly. 

Why are Energy Prices Rising?
Energy price rises are affected by increases in wholesale gas prices –  the amount energy firms pay for the gas in the first place. According to Money Helper, energy prices have been on a steep rise since October last year. Gas prices have hit record highs as the world reawakens from the lull of lockdowns, alongside other economic factors.

What is the Energy Price Cap?
The energy price cap was introduced at the beginning of 2019 by regulator Ofgem as a method of capping energy prices at reasonable levels for UK households. The energy cap limits how much supplies can charge you per unit of gas and electricity used, so there’s no upper limit to what you can pay. It’s a control placed on the individual unit price.

The cap is reviewed every six months, with the energy price cap in April 2022 surging by 54 per cent due to the factors mentioned above.

Electric Cars are Still Cheaper to Run
With energy prices high, the cost to charge an electric car in the UK will naturally come up too but how much does it cost to charge an electric car? According to Which, typical charging costs for an annual mileage of 8,100 miles can span anywhere from £750-1,150 a year depending on the size of the electric vehicle you own. In light of new energy tariffs, however, charging costs could go up by around £200.

That’s no small figure to consider but your new total is still likely to be nowhere near that of the fuel costs of a petrol or diesel car. Data analysed by NimbleFins suggests motorists spend an average of £1,288 a year fuelling their petrol cars and £1,795 a year fuelling their diesel cars. 

Furthermore, these figures were based on average mileage figures of 6,300 miles and 9,400 miles respectively, meaning the latter cost for diesel figures is a much closer comparison point to the data from Which.

It only takes driving by one petrol station to know that fuel prices have skyrocketed alongside energy tariffs. In reality, everyone is now paying notably more, regardless of the type of technology behind their car’s powertrain but an electric car is far cheaper to run if you charge from home using a smart tariff. 

This makes the electric car the smart choice in terms of running costs, but more importantly, the wise choice when it comes to a greener cleaner future for generations to come.

How to Keep Charging Costs Down

With rising costs, everyone’s paying more for electricity now. While that might offer some rather unsatisfying relief for electric vehicle owners, there are ways to bring your charging costs down:

1. Shop Around

The energy price cap has seen prices rise across the board, so you’re not going to find a ‘cheap’ deal anywhere at the moment. What you can do, however, is shop around. The energy cap dictates the maximum amount you’ll be paying these coming months. You may be able to find an energy provider who is offering better-than-average rates.

2. Move to a Specialist Tariff

Some energy suppliers offer specialist packages for electric vehicle owners, such as a smart off-peak tariff like Octopus Intelligent. For example, charging a 77kWh Volkswagen ID.3 from zero to 100 per cent with an Ohme Home Pro on a smart off-peak tariff, such as Octopus Intelligent (at 7.5p/kW, SVT at 34p/kW), could cost just £5.78 compared to more than £26 on the Standard Variable Tariff. When compared to the average price of over £100 for filling a petrol car in the UK this is a massive saving. 

The general theme around tariffs like the above is to offer you cheaper charging rates at off-peak times, for example, charging your car through the night. Some other providers have dropped these schemes from their offering as of the changes this month or increased the prices attached to the tariffs.

3. Drive Less

This might be stating the obvious but the post-pandemic world means many of us now work in more flexible working set-ups that allow for increased remote working. If you’re heading to the office every day and don’t need to, it might be worth taking a few more days from home to limit your travel and mitigate the associated costs.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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