How much does it cost to charge an electric car? Running costs explained


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 Electric vehicle charging costs explained
Find out which EVs are cheapest to charge
Additional tax savings outlined, too

Electric cars are gaining in popularity and make up nearly 15 percent of new cars registered so far in 2022. It’s easy to see why: driving ranges are constantly improving, the instant acceleration genuinely invokes joy and the public charging infrastructure is slowly expanding with generous commitments from the government.

No longer scorned for being fancy golf carts or milk floats, electric cars are now in a position to hold their own. (Even the kids are learning to drive in them!)

The list of benefits doesn’t stop there either. If you can afford the higher initial purchase price, buying an electric car could save you thousands in the long run, enabling to offset that cost then reduce your ongoing running costs for motoring.

Is it cheaper to run an electric car?

Even as fuel prices begin to fall and energy costs rise, domestic electricity is still much cheaper than petrol or diesel. Electric cars should be cheaper to keep on the road too, since EV drivers have fewer maintenance commitments and can enjoy perks such as free entry to low-emissions zones and zero road tax fees (for the time being).

Here's how much it costs to charge an electric car

A home charging station will help you to offset those initial costs further (charging an EV from home can cost less than a round of drinks). What’s more, you’ll never have to visit a public fuel station again, if you were so inclined.

Interested in finding out exactly how much cash you could save by making the switch to electric motoring? Keep reading to find out.

How to calculate running costs for an electric vehicle

The capacity of an EV’s battery is typically expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh) – the same metric used to measure your home’s energy consumption. So, if you know the size of an EV’s battery pack and you’re aware of how much money your energy supplier charges you for each kWh of electricity, it’s easy to figure out how much it will cost you to charge the car from home.

In simple terms, the maths works like this: size of EV’s battery pack × electricity cost of your supplier (in pence per kWh) = cost to charge an electric car from empty to full.

We’ll use the Kia EV6 as an example. It’s powered by a 77.4kWh battery pack. At the time of writing, British Gas listed the average electricity cost per kWh in the UK as 52p, up from 28p a unit as a response to the ongoing global difficulties in the energy markets.

So, 77.4 × £0.52 = £40.24 (up from £21.67 before the Ukraine invasion and soaring energy prices) gives you the cost of charging the car from empty to full at home.

Kia EV6

However, it’s worth noting that it’ll take more than seven hours to charge the EV6 from empty to full using a typical 7kWh home wallbox – so it’s best to leave it plugged in overnight. If you’re in a hurry, public rapid chargers such as those provided by Ionity and BP Pulse can charge the EV6’s battery pack to 80 percent capacity in as little as 18 minutes.

It’s more expensive to use a public rapid charger, though, as you pay for the fancy charging technology and the convenience of short wait times. At time of writing, Ionity was charging £0.69 per kWh – which equates to £53.40 for a full charge with the same Kia EV6. 

You should also consider community charging platforms like Co Charger or JustCharge, which enable you to connect with local EV drivers with a private charge point and use their charger overnight. The owner sets the price but they are priced and available by the hour, rather than by the unit.

Kia Sportage PHEV

These figures work out cheaper than fueling an equivalent petrol or diesel-powered car, though. The EV6’s nearest combustion-engined equivalent, the Kia Sportage, has a 54-litre tank. At the time of writing, petrol was sitting at an average price of £169.8p in autumn 2022 – meaning you’re looking at a bill of more than £90 to fill the Sportage’s tank from empty.

How much does it cost to charge a Tesla?

The capacity of an electric car’s battery is expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh), which is a measure of the energy storage available in the cells. A Tesla Model S packs a 100kWh battery, for example, whereas the latest Renault Zoe comes with a 52kWh battery pack. So, to calculate how much it costs to charge your car, simply look at the cost of electricity (either your home supply or at a public charging point) and do the maths.

In simple terms, the maths is: Size of battery (kWh) x Electricity cost of your supplier (pence per kilowatt hour) = Cost to charge an electric car from absolutely empty to full. 

Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before. In this handy explainer, we’ll show you how to crunch the numbers yourself.

Let’s consider a 100kWh Tesla Model S. At the time of writing, the company’s Supercharger network costs £0.28 per kilowatt-hour for Tesla drivers, so the total outlay is 100 x 28p = £28 if you were to theoretically charge from completely empty to full.

CAR magazine's Model S long-term test car

How much does it cost to run an electric car?

Switch to a cheaper home supply, which could cost as little as 12p per kWh on a good-value overnight tariff*, and the maths works out at a more palatable 100 x 12p = £12, for that same Tesla.

That’s a major financial saving compared to the cost of fuel for a conventional petrol or diesel car. The latest-generation Model S claims a range of around 400 miles on a single charge, whereas a combustion-engined car might rack up some 500 miles between refuelling stops; for the Tesla to do the same, it would have to be charged more often than you’d stop for fuel, which could add to longer journey times.

Consequently, to produce meaningful running cost figures, you need to factor in both an EV’s range and how you’re going to charge it. Rely primarily on less expensive charging solutions, though, and you could stand to rack up some significant savings.

(* please note, such tariffs like Economy 7 tend to enable you to charge at this lower price for a maximum of seven hours. Energy providers like EDF Energy and Octopus Energy are however offering EV-specific tariffs which use a similar model to give EV drivers the best opportunity to cut costs).

We appreciate that we’ve thrown a lot of figures at you during the last few paragraphs – so here’s a summary to evaluate the cost of running an EV.

To maximise your savings, install a home wallbox, charge your electric car overnight and steer clear of expensive rapid chargers unless absolutely necessary. Do all of that, and you could slash your fuel bills by as much as 25 percent.

The best electric cars you can buy

The cheapest electric cars to run

  Vehicle Cost to Fully Charge Cost per 100 Miles
1 Nissan Leaf £4.80 – £27.60 £2.01 – £11.55
2 Mini Electric £3.91 – £22.49 £2.70 – £15.51
3 Mercedes EQE 300 £10.80 – £62.10 £2.73 – £15.72
4 Audi Q4 e-tron £6.60 – £37.95 £2.76 – £15.88
5 Peugeot e-208 £6.00 – £34.50 £2.76 – £15.90
6 Vauxhall Corsa-e/Mokka-e £6.00 – £34.50 £2.87 – £16.51
7 Smart #1 £7.92 – £45.54 £2.90 – £16.68
8 Volkswagen ID.5 £9.24 – £53.13 £2.95 – £16.97
9 Ford Mustang Mach-E (SR) £8.16 – £46.92 £2.99 – £17.19
10 Tesla Model 3 (SR) £6.48 – £37.26 £3.01 – £17.33
Range given from lowest home cost (12p) to highest public charge cost £69p)

Electric car battery tech explained: costs, capacity and longevity

What about public charging of electric cars?

Home charging is generally cheaper than public charging, so the savings could be even more significant. However, when you consider 80% of electric car owners charge at home – according to bp pulse – this is the most common scenario for the majority of EV motorists.

EV drivers find resources like and for their home tariff comparisons. Where out on the road, the comprehensive Zap-Map app – now featuring has a helpful Zap-Pay facility to make payment smoother – to locate and assess availability of compatible public charge point. These all help keep the costs of running an EV as low as possible.

Shot of Shell Recharge hub, featuring 11 charging points
Shell Recharge Fulham Road, its first UK all-EV charging hub

How much cheaper is an electric car per month?

While the initial buying price is currently much higher than fuel-powered motors, new car sales are noting record numbers of electric cars.

Of course, there are other factors at play that you must take into account when working out the costs and potential savings of electric motoring; depreciation will play a significant factor in your monthly costs, for starters, if you’re buying your future EV outright (see our Best Used electric cars for inspiration) – or, alternatively, you will have to account for monthly leasing or PCP costs. Servicing, however, will often be far less expensive.

Get a handle on those key costs as well and you’ll be able to find out exactly what kind of savings might be possible.

Cheapest electric cars on the market today

Would I save money with an electric car?

Renault Zoe EV charging

We’d recommend looking at how much you’d potentially use your EV – and then calculate how much you’d need to charge up at home versus on the open road. The likelihood is that an electric car will save you hundreds, or maybe even thousands of pounds a year compared to keeping a conventional diesel or petrol car going – but don’t forget about depreciation and servicing, in any case…

Company-car drivers should consider that electric vehicles only attract 1% Benefit-in-Kind rates at the moment, rising to 2% for the 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 financial years. Electric cars are also currently exempt from road tax (otherwise known as VED), so there’s a saving to be had there too.

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