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Comparing the cost of electric car ownership

Photo of non electric cars, to contrast with electric car ownership.

This article on comparing the cost of electric car ownership to a traditional option is by The Dink from Team Monevator. Check back every Monday for more fresh perspectives on personal finance and investing from the Team.

With dual incomes and no kids (DINK), you can have more fun selecting a car. We’ve gone through convertible, Italian sports, and ricer cars. (Don’t judge us! We also save into passive funds, just like you do.)

Now on the cusp of our midlife crisis, we’ve gone for a sensible electric car.

To be honest I didn’t actually do my spreadsheet deep dive until after we’d already bought this Nissan Leaf.

I’m an early adopter at heart. And I really wanted an electric car to get a feel for the technology. The Nissan Leaf seemed a much more sensible way to scratch that itch than raiding my portfolio to buy a Tesla.

A dinky diversion

Before we calculate the cost of electric car ownership, a brief detour on the term DINK.

I had been referring to myself as a TWINK – Twin Incomes No Kids – assuming that was the correct term for our demographic.

My colleague pointed out to me that I am indeed a ‘twink’. But also that it means something quite different and not related to an economic group.

If you Google ‘DINK’, it takes you to Investopedia. TWINK takes you to the Urban Dictionary

So DINK for ‘Dual Income No Kids’ is the right acronym for Monevator purposes. (Or DINKY (DINK Yet). That’s the word for those couples not yet brave enough to tell their parents they’re not getting any grandchildren.)

Back to the cars.

Before I owned an electric car

As I mentioned, we once had an Italian sports car. Unfortunately it lived up to its stereotypes. It needed a lot of maintenance and had an insane service schedule. It felt like constant cam belt replacements.

So one calm, rational Sunday I created a spreadsheet to work out how much that car cost me a month. Turned out that despite being relatively cheap to buy, it was costing hundreds of pounds a month to run.

The spreadsheet also revealed that, by comparison, a stereotypical German sedan – if bought at just the right point in its depreciation curve – was cheaper. Even on PCP!1

That was an eye-opener. The next week I went out and bought a BMW 3 Series. Over the next four years it actually ‘saved’ me money.

The point is I had some experience of running spreadsheets to justify my car purchases.

Even though in the case of our Nissan Leaf I didn’t do the spreadsheet until afterwards.

Settled with a spreadsheet

Having already bought the Nissan Leaf, it’s obviously rather academic for me to create the spreadsheet now.

Still, it’s an interesting exercise that shows the maturity of the electric car market in the UK. Also my article can be a template for anyone else wanting to quantify a car purchase of any kind.

Therefore I’ve performed the comparison of an EV (Electric Vehicle) with a traditional petrol compact car.

What to compare to electric car ownership?

I chose to compare the Nissan Leaf with the Ford Focus. The Focus is about the same size and with the 1.0T EcoBoost model it offers the equivalent 0-62mph performance (in 11 seconds).

Also, the Focus is the fourth most popular car in the UK. It’s easy to find examples with different mileages and ages to compare to electric car ownership.

For its part the Nissan Leaf was the bestselling plug-in electric car until 2020. (It was overtaken by the Tesla Model 3.) So we’re really comparing the top-selling EV and petrol vehicles in the ‘compact’ class.

Based on my experience, I find cars three to four years old have had their initial huge depreciation. But assuming an average 7,000 of mileage a year, they still have lots of miles left in them. Beyond that come big scary services and the psychological barrier around 100,000 miles. That affects their value.

We’ll therefore compare a 2017 Nissan Leaf with a 2017 Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost – both with 30,000 miles on the clock.

Comparing two cars from 2017

Remember, we’re not actually buying these cars. We’re purely looking at the market values to quantify any decisions we make. So please don’t get too hung-up on details or minor specs differences.

At the time of writing I found:

  • A 2017 Nissan Leaf with 29,000 miles for £8,980.
  • A 2017 Ford Focus 1.0T with 30,000 miles for £8,649.

The initial point goes to the Focus for being cheaper to buy.

 Nissan LeafFord Focus
Initial Price£8,980£8,649


Most cars aren’t assets. However they do retain some value. To account for this we need to work out depreciation. This gives us a guide as to how much we could get were we to sell the cars after, say, four years.

I looked for similar 2013 models with 60,000 miles on them. This I based on the average 7,000 miles per year that people in the UK drive and also that cars seem to hold a lot of their value until near the 100,000 miles mark, where it drops off a cliff.

My search turned up:

  • A 2013 Nissan Leaf for £6,000.
  • A 2013 Ford Focus for £4,700.

Both had 60,000 miles on the clock.

Based on this calculation, the Ford Focus will depreciate more over the four years:

 Nissan LeafFord Focus
Initial Price£8,980£8,649
After 4 years 30K miles£6,000£4,700
Expected Depreciation£2,980               £3,949

Running costs

Depreciation is not everything. Next we need to consider servicing, road tax, and fuel.

Electric cars are a lot simpler from an engineering perspective. There are fewer moving parts. I’d assumed they would require less servicing.

For example, an electric car obviously doesn’t have have oil and spark plugs to change.

This is actually not the case. The Ford Focus has bigger service intervals. For instance it shocked me to see the cam belt on a Ford Focus is only required to be changed every 150,000 miles.

Over the four years I’ve assumed:

  • The Ford Focus will have two major £150 and one minor £75 service.
  • The Nissan Leaf will have two 18,000 mile services, each costing £159.

Now we move on to tax. This is a big winner for the Leaf, as it’s tax-free.

The Focus will cost you £155 a year. That’s £620 in total over four years. 

 Nissan LeafFord Focus

Energy costs

To calculate how much fuel is likely to cost over the four years, I took the listed combined economy of 60MPG for the Ford Focus. Having never bought a gallon of petrol in my life, I then converted that to 13 miles per a litre.

With petrol currently at £1.27 per a litre2 and at 13 miles per a litre, our 30,000 miles over four years will cost £2,930 in fuel.

On the Nissan leaf, you get 80 mile range on 22kw of the usable battery. The typical rate we pay at our local fast charging points is 30p/kWh. We use these charging points about half of the time. However we prefer, of course, to charge at free points like my office. So we effectively pay on average 15p/kWh.

That’s roughly what we pay at home, so it could also apply to those charging domestically.

Each mile in the leaf uses 0.275kWh. So at our 15p/kWh, the same 30,000 miles over four years will cost £1,237 to charge.

It’s interesting to see the cost per mile of petrol against electricity. The Nissan Leaf costs 4p a mile. The Ford Focus costs just under 10p a mile.

 Nissan LeafFord Focus
Energy costs per 30,000 miles£1,237£2,930

Petrol versus electric car ownership

To recap, we started with a four-year old car and then assume we sell it after four years having put 30,000 miles on the clock.

On these numbers, a Nissan Leaf works out £3,333 cheaper to own than a Ford Focus.

I’m not saying you should go out and buy a Nissan Leaf. It will not be the cheapest car to run in every situation. What I am saying is to work out as best you can what the true cost of different models is likely to be. Include depreciation, too. This way you can quantify your decision to buy a particular model of car.

 Nissan LeafFord Focus
Expected depreciation£2,980£3,949
Electricity/petrol 30,000 miles£1,237£2,930
Total over four years / per month£4,535 / £95£7,874 / £164

Your mileage may vary

In the comments to this article, I expected people will say I have cherry-picked examples of each car. That they can get them cheaper. Or their mate Dave will service the car for £50. The listed fuel economy is wrong.

Maybe. Perhaps my numbers do not apply exactly to your situation.

Charging rates in particular will vary hugely depending on what you have available locally, and whether you can charge more cheaply at home.

However by following the process, you can put in values that you think are more accurate. You’ll then get a different but equally valid outcome. 

Once you know the true cost, you do not even have to buy the cheapest car. You can make a meaningful decision if the extra money is worth what the car gives you.

I would happily pay an extra £200 a year for a BOSE Sound System and 360 parking cameras…

A few final caveats

Other important things I have omitted or glossed over are:

  • Insurance. Ignored because it varies so widely. I believe electric cars tend to be slightly more expensive to insure.
  • If you have free electricity to charge the car, solar panels or free charging at work, that is a real game-changer.
  • Repair cost. If something major breaks I assume the Ford is going to be cheaper to repair. However either car of this age and mileage should be pretty reliable. And the electric car has fewer moving parts to break.
  • I have heard rumours that electric cars go through tyres faster than ‘normal’ cars. However, this could be the same nonsense as electric cars not working when the temperature is below-zero.
  • The electric charging market is very immature. Charging costs vary massively. It varies from free at one supermarket to 35p per kWh/h plus a £1.50 connection charge at some motorway services. As the market gets more competitive, I would expect charging to get cheaper.
  • Over the next four years, it seems inevitable that the government will take measures to encourage electric car ownership. However that might not directly benefit existing EV owners. Imagine the authorities bought in a £2,000 car scrapping scheme. In that scenario the Ford Focus could suddenly be the cheaper car, if it met the criteria of the scheme.

In time you will be able to see all The Dink’s articles in his dedicated archive.

  1. Personal Contract Purchase – a form of debt financing. []
  2. May 2021. []
{ 53 comments… add one }
  • 1 SouthWalesFI July 5, 2021, 10:26 am

    Woah- surely no electric car owner in the UK is paying 15p for charging at home? Octopus Go (and others) are just 5p a unit overnight, making charging 3x cheaper than “peak/standard” rates. Get on it, if you haven’t already 🙂

  • 2 Edel July 5, 2021, 10:27 am

    Interesting article – I had heard that winter causes the battery to lose electricity held\ makes more inefficient – has held me back from buying one as temp goes sub zero from dec – feb where I live.

  • 3 Julia July 5, 2021, 10:40 am

    with the final caveats taken into account: have you considered adding car club membership to the spreadsheet? I have one at the end of my road (half a dozen more in the vicinity: EVs, hybrids and petrol cars. Plus vans!)
    Membership costs £20/year, no petrol/charging costs and you pay by the hour and mileage for rental. The 7000 miles per year is easily accounted for but of course the usage would be very different for different people.
    I know several people who have no car because the car club membership saves them money – insurance, maintenance, PARKING, charging/fuel, etc.

  • 4 Jonathan July 5, 2021, 11:42 am

    Very timely article, I was just thinking about this over the weekend. My main conclusion was that electric cars are going to take a while to become mainstream, simply because it doesn’t make sense economically to get one if you already own a normal car.

    In my example, I spend about £600 a fuel, maximum £500 a year on repairs (usually it’s much less) plus another £60 on tax and MOT – so roughly £1200 a year. Over the next 10 years that’s only £12k. Until I can buy and run an electric car for less than this, there is no incentive to change.

    Those people on finance deals will probably swap first, but it is going to take a long time (or some severe tax penalties) to get the majority of the country on electric.

  • 5 The Investor July 5, 2021, 11:59 am

    @Jonathan — Well, as you appreciate it’s of limited value to compare the cost of something someone already owns to something they have to pay new money for. 🙂 There are examples where one can make such as swap, but they aren’t particularly common in the ‘huge chunk of metal’ category! Perhaps an example might be swapping continuing to own a car versus a limited amount of Uber rides plus more public transport.

    As you say, those on finance deals and those looking for new cars of course will be those to switch first. But I wouldn’t assume the costs will be static. Battery technology is not moving fast, but I’d still expect battery costs to at least halve over the next ten years or so. And that’s a big chunk of cost for any electric car. So IMHO they will only continue to get more competitive.

    I expect petrol-driven cars to be almost entirely off our roads by 2040, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to 50% electric much sooner than that.

  • 6 James July 5, 2021, 12:05 pm

    Maybe add in the home charger installation cost also?

  • 7 Jonathan B July 5, 2021, 12:19 pm

    This is only of academic interest since I am not near a point of changing cars, and as pointed out above until them the depreciation effect hardly registers. However I doubt I am alone in using my car for a mix of journeys, when cars like the Leaf are much better suited to short runs than long trips. How do you factor in the issue of doing 500+ mile trips? Running costs might need to include overnight hotel stays (and the extra challenge of ensuring you book a hotel with a charging facility).

  • 8 David C July 5, 2021, 12:27 pm

    @James: In the UK there is a £350 Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme grant available towards the home charger installation.
    More generally, though I can imagine government incentives for the next few years, in the longer term I don’t see how things like purchase grants, “road tax” exemptions, free charging at supermarkets, even that handy charging/parking spot at the office, will survive when electric cars are no longer rare.

  • 9 Jonathan July 5, 2021, 12:32 pm

    @TI – yes, agree. My not very well made point is that uptake will be slow, because cars have a long life. Compared to, say, computers in the early 2000s, where any major change was mainstream within a couple of years.

    I don’t think we’ll be at 50% electric much sooner than roughly 2030, absent any economic motivation such as tax hikes, since all existing fossil fuel cars built today are going to be in the second-hand market for the next 15-20 years. So until there is a sufficient volume in this market for electric cars, I think fossil fuels will remain the majority. Would be delighted to be wrong on this of course

  • 10 Ducknald Don July 5, 2021, 1:09 pm

    @Jonathan, you won’t get many 500+ mile trips a year for your £600.

  • 11 Mark Wigmore July 5, 2021, 2:48 pm

    One question I have is the cost of major items such as battery replacement. Most petrol engines will do well over 100,000 miles if looked after (currently on 185,000). Battery longevity?

  • 12 Jonny July 5, 2021, 2:49 pm

    Woah, interesting article.

    Without pictures or more details though, I’m not sure I can believe you on the ricer 😉 Care to provide any? 😀

    More seriously, I’d love to know at what point on the depreciation curve you found the 3 series to be the best buy. Is that comparing the 3 series against itself, or against the Italian sports car? Sharing the spreadsheet would be even more greatly received.

    From my point of view I’ve always bought cars and run them into the ground (on my 3rd car in over 20 years of car ownership), so it’s difficult to include depreciation in my calculations. I often think life would be easier (though admittedly more expensive) to change every 4-5 years like the majority of folk do

  • 13 Michael July 5, 2021, 2:52 pm

    Another small difference: EVs turn their motors into dynamos when slowing down, to charge the battery. This means brakes are used much less often, and can last several years before needing changing.

  • 14 Rhys July 5, 2021, 3:59 pm

    @Mark – as an electric car enthusiast (from the sidelines – I don’t own a car!) battery degradation isn’t a particular concern. There are numerous anecdata online from taxi companies (a NYC one is a prominent one, I believe) that have Teslas as part of their fleet and have driven 100k+ miles and only seen the expected degradation you get from lithium batteries – ie. something like 80-90% max capacity. Certainly no need to swap out a battery.

    In fact, there is a lot of talk online that electric cars depreciate less than ICE cars due to the battery. Fewer moving parts = fewer things that can go wrong over 10-20 years.

    This hasn’t been accounted for in The Dink’s analysis, which only looks at 4 years of ownership – although you’ll note the Leaf depreciated less over four years. (To be honest, it’s possibly too early to really know) but it certainly looks promising.

  • 15 Alex July 5, 2021, 4:51 pm

    The calculation of EV charging cost is not exactly accurate. Rechargeable batteries don’t (and will never) have 100% round trip efficiency. The best a lithium battery can do is about 95%. The typical round trip efficiency for a lithium battery is usually at about 80-90%. That means you can only get back about 8 to 9 kWh for every 10 kWh electricity went into the battery, or 11 to 25% more electricity than the capacity of the battery to fully charge it.

  • 16 BeardyBillionaireBloke July 5, 2021, 5:07 pm

    I see VWRL priced in Euros now starts with a 1 (Benford might be happy).

  • 17 Ramzez July 5, 2021, 6:47 pm

    For my insurance for electric car was about 1/3 cheaper then diesel although electric is more expensive. I guess it is harder to steal electric car ? Also home charger costs about 500-700 to install if you want 7kwh oppose to usual 3.5kwh socket. Don’t forget if you have solar panels it maybe even cheaper to charge long run and if you install battery ….

  • 18 Simon July 5, 2021, 7:36 pm

    I think we are starting to appreciate the Monevator content of old a lot more. Any article that has to head off the stinging comments in the main body of the article, well, if they knew it was coming, they knew why, the article isn’t very good. I would rather have this sort rubbish held over to the Saturday morning links and not sully the good name of Monevator….

  • 19 A silly boy July 5, 2021, 7:49 pm

    I know this is monevator, and the idea of spending ridiculous sums on a car should be verboten, but I recently bought an EV, replacing a petrol estate I’d had for 10 years (and was 16 years old). It cost me £3k originally, which as we’ll come to, was amazing in today’s world.

    I do about 1000 miles a month. At current prices, and with that estates older engine, I’d get about 38mpg out of it.

    Long story short, over the life of that car, I had cost me an avg of £250 p/m all in (depreciation/ tax /insurance).

    I looked for a similar petrol estate, just 10 years newer to replace. The cost was shocking – the second hand car market has gone bonkers, so to get a similar car would cost £10k (say a good low mileage petrol toyota avensis).

    At that point, I thought, hey. Let’s have a look for fun.

    Long story short, I bought a 4 year old Tesla Model S, second hand for 50k (!) but crucially with free supercharging for life.

    Crazy I know, so here’s the maths.

    The Tesla needs basically no servicing, just brakes and things that may break. I plan on keeping this car at least as long as I kept the last one, but more probably, driving it into the ground. Let’s go with that.

    I estimate over those 10 years, thanks to the free charging and also free public chargers (supermarkets), I’m likely to save at least 20k on fuel costs.

    I’ll save at least £2k in road tax.

    I’ll save 4k in servicing.

    I’ll spend £1500 more on tyres.

    I’ll maybe spend 3k on top of what the other car may have cost in issues (luxury cars tend to be expensive).

    I’ll spend maybe 2k more insuring it.

    I’ll potentially lose 30k in depreciation (I can’t see this car ever dropping sub 20k, because it’s a fairly unique current tech level performance model with all the newest perks plus the free charging and free connectivity – plus has a high scrap value because of the battery pack), vs 8k on the avensis.

    Adding that up, the Model S is likely to cost me around £3k more than the avensis over 10 years. Call it £30 p/m. Maybe a lot more if something goes wrong. but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take.

    £30 p/m more to drive an ev that does sub 3 sec 0-60, is a thing of beauty in my eyes and allows me to watch YouTube/Netflix whilst I charge on a nice big screen. I thought sod it! Not very money saving but sometimes you just gotta live.

  • 20 theFIREstarter July 5, 2021, 8:03 pm

    Bought a plug in hybrid (Mitsubishi outlander) 5 months ago and have spent about £100 on fuel and driven about 1200 miles.

    The battery only lasts 25 miles but it’s great for day to day while giving the option of longer journeys without charging headaches.

    Pretty happy with the running cost so far and we have solar panels so most of the battery charging will be free.

    Could be a viable option for many who don’t want to plunge into fully electric just yet.

    They are not cheap so won’t save you money compared to running a sub £2k ICE motor, but if you want a nicer car anyway then worth a look!

  • 21 Jason July 5, 2021, 9:32 pm

    @Jonny. My partner brought an 18 month old 2 series cabrio in 2019 for 18k from a dealer, ran it for approx 20 month and got 16k trade in against a VW when ‘another grandchild forced sale’!!! It’s still a 2k loss but I didn’t think that was too bad considering purchase age and short ownership period. It did only return 34 mpg which I thought poor for a 1.4 litre engine but due to short ownership period the only things we paid for over and above fuel/tax/insurance was an MOT and BMW screenwash (don’t get me started on BMW screenwash).

    @Dink thanks for the article. I personally think the 60 mpg for the Focus is optimistic but that makes your Leaf a bigger win.

    The Hackaday web site has numerous articles on Leaf hacks such as upgrading the battery to the later model if you are so inclined.

  • 22 ZXSpectrum48k July 5, 2021, 9:36 pm

    I’m not against the idea that it can be cheaper to run an electric car than a petrol one.

    I do think though that you’re showing some selection bias. The Nissan Leaf is well know for showing having rapid depreciation from new. That’s because it has a number of issues: poor range, high battery degradation, high battery replacement cost. But most of all, it’s boring! It’s just not a desirable vehicle.

    When you rerun the numbers for something more desirable – say a Tesla X – it just doesn’t look so good. The Tesla X holds up far too well in depreciation terms vs. competitors like a Range Rover Sport, Audi Q7 etc. There isn’t a large enough float of used Tesla X’s for prices to drop.

    This is the reason why we haven’t gone electric. We only own one car but we need that car to seat up to seven. We want 4-wheel drive. We want range. We only buy used. And it has to look acceptable on the school run. Apply those sort of criteria and there isn’t enough choice or enough supply yet in the used electric car market.

  • 23 TeslaMan27 July 5, 2021, 10:22 pm

    Very timely article. The same topic is being discussed in several EV forums. I created a handy spreadsheet before I decide to buy one, have updated it again:
    The Ev running costs went below that of an ICE within 6 months of ownership in my case. The upfront costs will always be higher than ICE cars for several more years.

  • 24 e17jack July 5, 2021, 11:31 pm

    @ZXspectrum48k –

    I too would love to go electric but need a 7-seater and decent range. I’m expecting to have my beaten-up MPV for some years yet as it would pain me to buy another fossil fuel vehicle.

    However my kids are still pre-teen so perhaps i am underestimating the pressure i will soon come under to upgrade to something shinier, as per your comment – “it has to look acceptable on the school run”

    How embarrassing a dad am i prepared to be in the name of frugality?

  • 25 Matthew July 6, 2021, 12:07 am

    Don’t forget opportunity cost – that’s why I like bangers, me money can be tied up in other stuff instead, and that surely should be factored in. Also I find cars are cheaper to repair than replace much longer than people imagine.

    You could just Uber about too, I don’t have a driveway, being forward to go electric could be the end of me driving, I would consider Uber except I work unsociable hours when there’s also no bus so it might be a case of hoofing it.

    Or could rent driveways for charging, air b&b style – people won’t need to charge their own car every day.

    Replaceable modular batteries would be good if they can be developed – could charge indoors and swap them over to save hours of charging.

    Also you might be able to simply pump the old electrolyte out and new electrolyte in (and change the electrodes) for an effective battery swap without lifting them out.

    Also look into solid state batteries – without liquid is lighter and doesn’t decay the same, has better capacity – check out John B Goodenough – equal legend to Bogle – (1 Nobel prize for inventing RAM? Not Goodenough, another Nobel prize for inventing the lithium ion battery? Still not Goodenough!)

    Also we could use very abundant sodium if lithium ever gets shorter, but from what I gather you can get most rare earth elements from normal soil with a little more extraction.

  • 26 JimJim July 6, 2021, 7:12 am

    Having recently been forced into changing a car due to some twonk (not an acronym) writing ours off whilst it was parked, I did my usual analysis of the markets/ purchase options/new vs used/ relative fuel and servicing costs – Loans, cash, PCP, HP etc and found all poor value at the moment due to raging prices in the U.K second hand market which is probably symptomatic of the tight supply and lack of discounting in the new car sector.
    I assure you there is not a lot of value out there.
    I looked, and was nearly persuaded by electric. Battery life is not an issue to me as others have mentioned – some manufactures are even touting the dawn of the million (Tesla 2 million?) mile battery! – Get that out of an engine and gearbox even for 1% of the cars on the road!
    Range is also not an issue with the vast majority of my journeys sub 25 miles all round. Longer trips, either take it slow and rest every two hours, as the highway code suggests you do, or hire a car capable of doing them occasionally, or take public transport, or have a second car that is ICE. (at this moment both of us need a car for our circumstances)
    So, what put me off buying just yet?
    Opportunity cost of the extra money I would have tied up in a vehicle for several years. As I have said before here, we are almost always the last owners of the vehicle. Until the age of nearly 50 I had never spent more than £1k on purchasing a car and its average life in my ownership has been a little over 3 years. Such vehicles this year are hard to come by. We (hopefully) got lucky and the payout from the insurance bought us a lower mileage, well serviced but smaller more basic example of the one we lost and gave us a couple of hundred quid in the bank. I hope it will last at least three years.
    I fully suspect after three years our next car will be electric.
    We are lucky in the fact we can comfortably park four cars on our driveway, my colleagues at work are already bemoaning the fact that all they have available to them without trailing a wire across a pavement and being lucky in bagging the correct parking spot is the very limited public charging network.
    As is usual with subsidies, it seems they favour the well off.
    Some of my colleagues are still in denial that electric cars will ever be more than just a hippy fad. I am sure they have not been reading the news.

  • 27 Matthew July 6, 2021, 7:56 am

    I have trouble seeing how it’s going to be ubiquitous, I can’t see councils digging up the road everywhere to lay charge points, imagine the roadworks. Is this just a Londoners dream where chargepoints are abundant and public transport is cheap and decent enough to rely on? Where is this optimism coming from? Or are we just trying to convince Biden to get a trade deal?

    If you have a substantial group of people without driveways, then as electric approaches and hydrogen appears not to, petrol will be ultra convenient and more desirable – you might ban sales of new cars, so they will run older cars into the ground, they’ll buy classics if that’s what it takes to still be able to use petrol.
    Also safety – blind people tripping on cables? Silent cars you can’t hear coming?

    Good luck convincing people who can never afford to buy anything newer than 10 years old to foot the bill for the environment.

  • 28 Slow road to freedom July 6, 2021, 8:20 am

    If you need to buy/rent a car, I’m convinced going fully electric is a perfectly rational choice. If you have a company car option in the UK, even more rational.
    It was with some trepidation I took delivery of an EV last summer. One of the first trips was driving [all the way through] France. It was fine. I found the breaks for charging made for a more relaxed journey, even though the car was charged before I was ready to leave (20-30 mins). Ever since I’ve not been at all concerned about long trips.
    To be honest, I don’t even think about it being an EV now. Charging is like having a giant mobile phone. Just plug it in when it needs it.
    I’ve had it over a year now, and it tells me I need a service….in about a year from now.
    I’m lucky to have a home charge point, which makes the convenience of not visiting petrol stations a plus – except on longer journeys, when I need a break after 150 miles – 200 miles anyway.
    The all-in cost so far is significantly cheaper than my last [diesel] car.
    It’s faster, for sure.
    But it’s just a car. And I wouldn’t now consider anything other than 100% electric, because it is easier to live with, and cheaper, than an equivalent I might otherwise choose.
    I can understand the reticence being expressed by some, but honestly it is possible to overthink. Unless you’ve got £1k – £2k only to spend on a car, it’s possible to go electric.

  • 29 The Investor July 6, 2021, 9:27 am

    @Simon — (Comment #28) I appreciate the article wasn’t to your taste, but you might have put your point of view across without the word “rubbish”. I don’t believe that’s fair; you can see from the comments here that plenty of people found the article interesting. Moreover this is a new writer finding his feet. I appreciate the wider spirit of enjoying the more traditional Monevator output.

    Anyway, I’m leaving your comment up despite being slightly concerned for my new writer’s feelings as we’ve had very few negative comments about these Team Monevator posts. I appreciate the output can be rather different from the fare of the past ten years, but honestly there’s only so many articles one can edit, write, and publish about the minutia of index tracker funds before ones eyes go crossed and you crave variety! 😉 Also there’s a limit to reader interest, with very few readers coming back indefinitely for that alone. (Honourable exceptions, some of whom are on this thread, much appreciated!)

    I actively wanted to broaden how content and reach and I’m pleased with how it’s going. If anyone isn’t into this ‘non-core’ stuff I’d suggest skipping Mondays posts and focusing on Wednesday, which is the new home of @TA’s articles. (If/when I do anything active-orientated it’s likely to find a home on a Monday, too).

    I’d prefer we didn’t derail the EV car chat on this thread so would rather people didn’t reply here thanks. 🙂 Maybe we can discuss it all in an upcoming Weekend Reading at some point in the next few weeks. Cheers!

  • 30 windinthefens July 6, 2021, 10:38 am

    Thanks for a really interesting article. I’ve no problem with the varied content- ultimately this website is about investing and finance, and financing cars is one of the biggest outlays we make. It may not be “investing” but minimizing losing money is important. I had assumed the money side would be a no-brainer for sticking with petrol at present, and am delighted to be wrong as I’d much rather go electric.
    In fairness as well, the title “Comparing the cost of electric car ownership” gave me a clue that the article was about comparing the cost of electric car ownership. I could have chosen not to read it if I wasn’t interested


  • 31 Hudlbuck July 6, 2021, 10:50 am

    @Matthew, I suspect the answer will initially be lampposts. Plenty if them about, already have electricity supply with no need to dig up the road. Already in use in some UK cities with several companies manufacturing units.

    @Firestarter, I will second the Outlander PHEV. And mine was actually fairly cheap. They are often bought as company cars cos of the tax break, and mine was bang on 3 years old when I got it (now coming up to 6 years trouble free), which is when I assume they will be traded in. If you mostly do low mileage and can charge at home, they are very good. It’s also roomy with a reasonable AWD which has come in handy a couple of times in the Pennines :). Not seven seater but totally acceptable for the school run if that’s your bag!

  • 32 Hudlbuck July 6, 2021, 10:54 am

    I mean low individual trip mileage ofc.

  • 33 Tesla Dave July 6, 2021, 11:27 am

    I’ve been reading Monevator for perhaps ten years and I’ve never commented previously. So, thanks to all the Monevetor team, new and old, for the content. Covering some new topics and adding some new writers is the way forward. Thank you all.

    I own a Tesla model 3. Here are few thoughts – I can post more detail if anyone is interested.

    Long-range trips in the Tesla are very easy. I have a regular trip that I make to visit an elderly relative. Before purchasing the Tesla, I timed my motorway service area stops and worked out that charging the Tesla as required would not add any time to my average stop. This turned out to be true in the real world.

    If you are interested, you can look at the RSymons EV, and Tesla Bjorn YouTube channels – they have a lot of information on range, real world performance, etc. RSymonds has recently driven a Tesla Model S from Scotland to London without charging it.

    Note that Tesla shipped 200k cars last quarter without spending any money at all on advertising. That says a lot about the quality and the utility of the product.

    You can add chargers in any area that has lampposts – you run them off the lampposts. This is an increasingly common solution in some areas.

    One thing about the Model 3 that is not discussed much is cakeism. You can roll about very quietly and unobtrusively when you want. However, you also have tremendous performance on tap, without high running costs or air pollution.

    Anyway, well done again to Team Monevator, and I hope a few people find my comments interesting/useful.

  • 34 Matthew July 6, 2021, 12:08 pm

    Lampposts sound good especially if they get made LED to save current although would we have a trailing cable problem for blind people? If anyone trips on a charging cable who is liable?

    Bay parking where I live doesn’t have lampposts but streets near work does, although the work car parks do not, it might get competitive for lamppost parking.
    I do think though that driveway renting will be a thing.

    Also will we get kids mucking about with cables? Like chucking them in water? Or using them to start fires?

  • 35 Tesla Dave July 6, 2021, 12:26 pm


    Your points on the legal liabilities are fair, and I don’t have an answer to that. However, if you want to see what the lamppost chargers look like, the Ubitricity website will show you.

    I had the same concerns as you about cable theft. However, with the Tesla the cable is locked to the car when it’s charging. You have to open the car and use the touch screen to release the cable, so if the car is locked then you would need to break in to the vehicle.

    If you want to see the availability of EV charging points in the UK, Zap Map is a good resource.

    Best wishes,


  • 36 Malcolm July 6, 2021, 4:16 pm

    I enjoy the Team Monevator posts and this was another interesting article.

    I bought my first EV last October and have never regretted it. Much nicer to drive than a fossil fuel car and far lower running costs. I was paying about £40 a week for petrol. I now pay about £4 a week for electricity. I charge overnight when electricity costs just 5p/kWh and also make use of free public charging when available.

    The 245 mile battery range isn’t a problem either. This easily exceeds my ‘bladder range’ so I would be stopping for a comfort break anyway! Some of the latest EV’s have a battery range over 300 miles and this is only likely to increase as battery technology improves.

    Before I bought my EV I was rather sceptical whether the government would reach its target of phasing out new fossil fuel cars by 2030. I now believe it might happen even earlier.

    New car sales in Norway are already over 50% pure electric. Sweden and Netherlands are over 20% and doubling each year. (If you include plug in hybrids Norway is actually over 80% electric!). Whilst UK is someway behind, as the choice of EV’s grows and more decent range EV’s become available on the used car market, the change will come much faster than people think.

  • 37 Jonathan B July 6, 2021, 4:55 pm

    @Malcolm, Norway is a special case with big subsidies for electric cars and large amounts of cheap hydroelectric power. But as you say, the trend is everywhere.

    As someone not in the market currently, and a little sceptical, how long does it take to recharge the average EV at a random motorway service station? And what are the chances of finding a recharging station free?

  • 38 Passive Pete July 6, 2021, 5:12 pm

    Interesting article and comments, some of which reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago with a cycling friend when we concluded that who would be mad enough to pay twice as much for an electric bike – they’ll never catch on! Now my local bike shops are saying that around half of bike sales are electric, and they can’t get hold of electric bike stocks quick enough.
    I bought a run around EV 18 months ago to replace my mini. I still have a petrol car for winter/holidays. I support @Malcolm and @Tesla Dave – EVs are great fun to drive. So much so that my wife takes mine whenever she can in preference to her Audi TT. She says the EV is easier to drive, quieter and quicker 😮
    To illustrate @Malcolm final point I was on holiday in the north of Scotland a few weeks ago and I noted where I could fill up with petrol for the long trips along single track roads to various Munro’s. I saw two petrol filling stations in the week – Loch Shin and Durness. I also saw four EV charging stations in that time, and two of those were free to use.
    For those sceptics I’d recommend taking an EV for a test drive. Mind you I haven’t tried an electric bike yet as I think I know what the outcome will be!

  • 39 MrOptimistic July 6, 2021, 5:52 pm

    I will take my cue from busses and lorries. When London busses are all electric I’ll pay attention. I can remember when north sea gas was brought in and the mass conversion from town gas so infrastructure change is possible I suppose but in the absence of a nuclear power programme I just don’t see it. Currently it has all the hallmarks of government distortion where publicity and temporary incentives obscure the longer term realities (water meters anyone ?).
    In terms of practicalities my psychology won’t allow me to contemplate an electric car. Missed a ferry a few years back as they shut the M6. Hours of queuing and diversion. Start to fret when the tank is one third full as it is. Anyway, what would happen in a winter storm when people are stranded on a motorway overnight ( or a strike at Calais for that matter)? Can’t even run the engine to keep warm.
    Still electric is more plausible than the hydrogen economy that the more excitable are dreaming about.

  • 40 Michael July 6, 2021, 6:03 pm

    @MrOptimistic, when an EV is stationary, there is no electricity needed to keep the engine ‘turning over’. What you are left with is a humongous battery (e.g. 80kWh) to run the seat heaters for many many hours. But in the most extreme of your examples, it could get hairy I admit.

  • 41 Malcolm July 6, 2021, 6:12 pm

    Whilst I do a fair amount of motorway driving, it tends to be less than 200 miles a day. So as long as I start with a full battery I don’t need to charge during the day. However on the six longer journeys I have made since I purchased my EV where I have had to charge on the motorway, I have never had to queue for a charger.

    Regarding charging times. This varies depending on the power of the charger and how much power the EV can accept. According to Gridserve, their new 350kW chargers they are installing across the motorway network are capable of adding 100 miles of range in just five minutes. https://gridserve.com/2021/06/30/gridserve-launches-the-gridserve-electric-highway/?LeadSourceCode=crm1017
    However the average EV cannot accept that much power. So more typically you are adding about 100 miles of range every 15-35 minutes depending on how much power your EV can accept.

  • 42 Tyro July 6, 2021, 8:39 pm

    Thanks Dink – interesting and useful. I haven’t owned a car for the last 20 years (! having spent them living in two cities with great public transport) but think I’ll buy one in 2-3 years’ time, and when I do it’ll be an EV, so your article is timely. I need to start getting my head around all this stuff all over again.

  • 43 Jonathan B July 6, 2021, 8:51 pm

    @Malcolm, so what I am getting is that with current technology and the sort of ordinary car I am likely to buy (i.e. not a Tesla or similar price range) a wee stop – or even a sandwich stop – is unlikely to give me another 200 miles. Wheras I can refill 500 miles worth of petrol in under 5 minutes.

    Our longer trips involve around 600 miles in a day, so we may need to wait a few years for the technology to mature. But I guess that will arrive before 2030.

  • 44 Eadweard July 6, 2021, 10:26 pm

    I’ve had an EV (BMW i3) for 3 years, and it was 3 years old when I bought it. I got it for environmental reasons, not to save money. It has definitely been more expensive than a similar diesel/petrol car – it will take many years for the lower running cost to make up for the high purchase price. Plus BMW service and repairs are pricey – at least twice what my old Peugeot cost. But probably that’s BMW premium not anything to do with EVs.

    I don’t expect the low cost of charging to last. Once many cars are EVs the Treasury will lose a big chunk of tax from fuel duty, and will want to get that tax some other way. And fair enough – roads cost a lot of money, and so will the upgrading of the electricity grid that will be needed to charge all those EVs. My guess is that a per-mile tax will be introduced for EVs. The state of Victoria in Australia has just introduced such a tax (2.5c/km, =2p/mi), to howls of protests from existing EV owners.

    This article prompted me to look up the depreciation on my i3 and I’m pleasantly surprised to see it is similar to what The Dink reports – 27% reduction over 3 years (18k£ to 13k£). I’m surprised its not more, because EV technology – both range and charge rate – has improved dramatically in 6 years. Whereas I need to charge for 30 mins every 1 hour of motorway driving, with some current EVs and on a 350kW charger 15mins charging will give you 3 hours driving. That is a vastly different and superior car. In contrast, a 6 year old Ford Focus does almost exactly the same thing as a brand new Ford Focus.

    Though my experience of EV ownership has been more expensive, I think The Dink’s calculations are about right for the present time, and EVs are only going to get cheaper. The cost of lithium batteries is coming down really fast. There has been a 10 fold reduction in the last 10 years, and I see no reason that trend won’t continue as the reduction has been due to incremental improvements and increasing scale of production, not any radical and non-repeatable changes in technology. So I am sure that EVs will soon be obviously cheaper than petrol/diesel cars, as well as more desirable for green-ness and more fun to drive.

    To get low running cost you really need to charge at home. I pay 5p/kWhr at night with Octopus Go. Public chargers are at least 30p/kWhr. Most I use are closer to 40p/kWhr, and at that price & for my car, the cost per mile for electricity is about the same as the cost of petrol/diesel. Ionity 350kW chargers are 69p/kWhr!

    Re reliability, mine has given no trouble. In principle EVs should be more reliable as there are far fewer moving parts and none of them hot, but it’s the nature of reliability engineering that it takes a lot of time and real world experience to iron out all the bugs. So despite their inherent advantage, new model EVs could still be less reliable than well proven petrol/diesel cars. I was just reading a reliability survey which interestingly ranked the Tesla Model 3 near the top, but the Tesla model S dead last, and it was even worse than some exotic petrol sports cars. Do your research before you buy.

  • 45 Michael July 7, 2021, 10:10 am

    I’ve had my Model 3 for coming up to two years. I looked at the manual to work out what to do about servicing, and basically they are saying there isn’t really much to service at all. They are surprisingly simple cars from a mechanical point of view, which far fewer moving parts. After two years they advise checking the brake fluid, to check for contamination. After six years the air conditioning needs a servicing. Brakes last much longer, as they aren’t used much. So the only thing left is tyres (maybe perform a tyre rotation) and windscreen fluid!

  • 46 weenie July 9, 2021, 11:59 am

    Found this article interesting – I’d like to think that my next car (in 3-4 years’ time) is going to be an EV, but am concerned about the cost of purchase, the availabilty/ease of charging and the ongoing costs. I’m hoping in the future, prices will have dropped a lot and there will be a bigger range to choose from.

    I’m aiming to get a small EV (with boot space big enough to take a couple of large suitcases), not particularly fussed about make or model, for mostly short journeys (nothing over 80 miles).

  • 47 Gadgetmind July 9, 2021, 5:49 pm

    I bought myself a two yo Tesla Model S as a retirement present pretty much spot on three years ago. I don’t regret it one bit, and very much doubt a spreadsheet could justify an Tesla S/X in any way (unlike a 3/Y) but who knows. Running costs are very low, it’s over a year since I charged other than at home and even then it was a 20 minute charge on a 350 mile round trip, it’s the fastest car I’ve ever owned and I’ve had a fair few V8s, and I just changed a pair of tyres that I’ve done 30k miles on and they weren’t new when I bought the car. No way will I ever go back to being a fossil fool!

  • 48 HariSeldon July 10, 2021, 10:04 am

    Very interesting article, the comments have opened it up to provide a lot of feedback and data.

    My Toyota Hybrid still works well, gives an easy 60mpg. I considered a plug in version ( £8k more) that would have given a 25 to 30 mile range. Whilst that could have halved the fuel use it would not have been economic.

    Had fuel usage been zero, the annual saving of around £600 would have taken 13+ years to break even. This suggests the price of the car may be a major factor in running costs.

    Regarding battery life, our Toyota had a 5 year battery warranty and a further three years if you had the car serviced by Toyota and the battery checked.

    That 8 year total limit has been changed to 15 years. The cost of a service may just be a disguised insurance premium, it’s encouraging though, they don’t like paying out either way.

  • 49 PA July 10, 2021, 10:58 am

    Interesting piece from an ‘existing ICE driver but looking to EV’
    The Govt is not exactly selling the EV concept yet but various blogs and YouTube channels are providing real world information and changes each year.
    Any stats show that most journeys are very short and even the ‘long’ journeys (sub-300 mile) can be fitted in with EV charging/human body functions schedules!
    Those who state 400 to 500 mile journeys as a problem – very few such journeys exist in the total picture – but fitting in with charging is possible.
    Rate of change will speed up and if Govt starts to understand what is needed for people to make the switch, I reckon 2030 will be feasible.

  • 50 Gary Grewal July 17, 2021, 1:34 am

    This is such a well fact-checked post, I appreciate the thorough research that went into this. I had no idea insurance could be slightly more expensive, I figured that with less parts or components to steal, it should be less expensive! Maintainence, resale value, and other points make sense.

    While I love 2018 my Prius 3 Touring, my post-FI binge might just be a Porsche Taycan, those things are hard to ignore!

  • 51 The Accumulator July 23, 2021, 12:12 pm

    Enjoyed the piece and the comment thread very much. Interesting to note that the EV owners personal experience has turned them into total converts. Whereas some of the sceptics seem to be working with outdated information on performance levels or are citing rare instances when an EV *might* be at a slight disadvantage. Given the planet needs to convert to green energy solutions pronto, I think that having to slightly extend your rest stop is a small price to pay. I don’t have an EV yet but my next car has to be electric.

  • 52 Jonny July 23, 2021, 12:30 pm

    Interesting to note that the EV owners personal experience has turned them into total converts

    …though that could be survivorship/self-serving bias 😉

    For me, I hope to jump to an EV next. But only if I can make the numbers work (or at least come close), and the car is desirable. And even then, only when my current car dies (which hopefully won’t be too soon!).

  • 53 The Accumulator July 24, 2021, 8:21 am

    Yep, could be, or could just be the truth. If there were a lot of problems then you’d expect someone to come on and say: ‘steer clear, it’s a total mare.’

    More likely ICE owners are experiencing inertia, which is understandable, but needs to be measured against the stakes.

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