Can Switching to an Electric Car Save Money?
02.09.2019 by Jack H
Switching to an electric car can save you money in the long term, but until the price of an electric car comes down it's going to take a few years of ownership before you see real savings.
If you already need to change your car then an electric car is a great choice to save on your monthly fuel costs and car tax as pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are exempt.
In today’s environmentally-conscious age, people across the UK and the world are attempting to make small changes to their daily routines in order to cut their emissions, reduce their waste and generally have a smaller impact on the environment around them. The EU and the UK have announced legislation to take petrol and diesel cars off the road in the course of the next ten to fifteen years, personal automobiles will be one of the first day-to-day habits to change. But what about early adopters – if you purchase an electric car, are you going to save money, as well as the earth? Let’s take a look at your options.
Electric Cars Can Have A High One-Off Cost
One of the most off-putting things about electric cars is their cost. At present, an electric car is a fair bit more expensive to purchase – and will more often than not, be newer – than a petrol or diesel car. You can pick up a decent family saloon online, second-hand, for a good deal less than its new electric equivalent.
But that’s to be expected. First, as electric cars haven’t been in development for very long – with Tesla very much leading the way in this regard – you’re going to find no second-hand options that will save you the precipitous costs of buying a car straight out of the factory. You’re also going to be paying for a more advanced and fledgeling technology, which has taken millions, if not billions, of pounds to produce.
The UK government are adamant that electric vehicles are the future. Of course, they’re right. Electric cars improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, and will slice the UK’s emissions considerably when all petrol and diesel cars are eventually taken off the road. As such there are some incentives in place, like a government grant, to help you take some of the price off the vehicle you’re buying. This makes buying electric that bit more appealing – and is something you should enquire into when shopping around for your new environmentally friendly vehicle.
Nevertheless, your electric car will be more expensive than one run on fossil fuels. So, the one-off cost will feel like you’re over-spending your money. The question is: how much will you save after you purchase your car?
Your Driving Habits
This is an important point at which to mention drivers’ habits. Are you the kind of person who keeps their car on the driveway for most of the year, with occasional drives on the weekend? Or are you in your car daily, taking it into work on the commute and using it for most of your errands? Do you need your car to be operational for picking kids up from school, and do you often drive long distances? All of these outcomes will change the efficiency-saving costs of your electric car. Here’s how and why.
There are pros and cons to electric cars in terms of distance. Of course, if you drive a few hundred miles in a petrol or diesel car, you’ll inevitably stop at least once to fill up your tank, which can be surprisingly costly if you’re doing these kinds of journeys more than once a month. In an electric car, you’ll be happy in the knowledge that such long journeys aren’t costing you nearly so much to perform.
The trouble – and the downside to electric cars generally – is that their batteries are yet to perform at the level that’ll take them around on long journeys without you having to stop to charge them. So, while filling up with petrol can take as little as five minutes, if do you run out of power on your electric vehicle, you’re going to be due a far longer stop as you wait for your car to charge. On the up-side, you can expect this to change to the benefit of the consumer as electric cars advance and change for the better.
This is where the electric car really comes into its own. If you’re only ever taking short journeys in your electric car, you’ll be saving heaps of cash. Some estimates put this figure at about 10% of what it costs to run a petrol or diesel car – quite the saving, considering transport costs can be right up there after rent or mortgage payments for the most expensive outgoings for the normal UK citizen.
As such, anyone who rarely takes their car up and down the country in trips over 300 miles (which is the figure at which your fully-charged electric car will run out of juice) is going to be the biggest potential beneficiary from the coming electric car boom. The cash savings for such an individual are immense, and the convenience, too, is something to be lauded. By parking in your garage or on your drive, you’ll be able to charge your vehicle in situ overnight, taking away the worry that you’ll ever meaningfully ‘run out’ of fuel.
If this article has so far whet your appetite to look into electric cars, there’s still more that’ll incentivise you to take a look a little closer at the cash savings that you'll reap over time. Of course, for a period of time, you'll be paying off the higher cost of purchasing such a vehicle, but once that's paid off entirely, you’ll be looking at pure savings when compared to running petrol or diesel cars. In the long run, you'll be saving money due to the vehicle’s cost-effective nature.
This is further helped by the incentives put in place by the UK government – and, indeed, the EU – so that you can drive your car in places that other cars cannot. The perfect example of this is London’s congestion zone – very expensive to enter as a fossil fuel vehicle, but entirely free if you’re in an electric car. It has perks such as this that can very quickly add up to huge savings if you are planning on using your car extensively across many journeys and cities. Furthermore, with more incentives due, including reduced insurance and car tax, the overall running cost of your vehicle is going to be remarkably cheap when compared to your old pre-electric car.
Ahead of the Curve
There are upsides and downsides to being an early adopter to this new transportation technology. On the up-side, you’ll find that your electric car is a wonderful change in your life. Not only will you be pleased to be saving money every time you drive – and saving the environment, too – but you’ll be driving in delicious silence instead of on top of thousands of revs, and you’ll be in a stylish, comfortably designed vehicle. It’s an investment that really does pay off.
On the other hand, though, you are going to find that the technology’s infancy works against you from time to time. An apt example of this is on-street parking. You’ll probably have noticed that charging bays are popping up, especially on city streets, for electric vehicles to charge at. What you’ll also have noticed is how few and far between these are. The UK is yet to make the conversion to fully electric infrastructure to really guarantee you’re not going to be left frustrated from time to time by a certain lack of convenience. But if you can swallow that, and you’re prepared to be patient over the three to five more years it’ll take to put better infrastructure in place, you’re going to be saving money, and the world, as soon as you swap your fossil fuel car for an electric one.
It’s clear that in every way bar the one-off cost of the vehicle, switching to an electric car will certainly save you money. It’s cheaper in every way to run that a petrol or diesel car, and you can only expect the costs of fossil fuels to rise as the cost of electric cars comes down in the coming few years. The key question, really, is how much are you willing to spend on a new vehicle? Are you able to make such a hefty purchase to begin with?
The question is paramount. If you’re currently driving a car that’s not going to make you much money on sale, then you will be faced with steep one-off costs to get a new electric car. You’ll take months and maybe even years paying off the extra costs by saving cash on fuel. But the more expensive the car that you’re driving, the more cost-efficient it becomes to run an electric car. If you’re ready to make the change and happy to cover the one-off cost, or to buy the car on finance, you’re very likely to save a good deal of money.
Now it’s time to turn your attention to the cars themselves – all newly designed – to find the perfect electric vehicle for you and your family. Similar to shopping for a new car, you will want to ensure you find the ideal electric car for your needs, and the needs of your family.