What Costs More To Run? Electric or Petrol?

Mon 3rd May 2021

A surprising new body of research has revealed that some electric cars may cost more overall than petrol or diesel motors.

The news comes as many car buyers across the UK may be considering making the switch from a traditional combustion engine to one that you charge by plugging into the wall. The key factor in the research which was revealed by one of the industry’s leading figures, Auto Trader’s commercial director, Ian Plummer.

Speaking at a motoring industry event at Goodwood Motor Circuit, Plummer revealed that when comparing nearly new EVs to petrol and diesel there are a number of factors which could make ICE more affordable than EV. 

Looking at the Total Cost of Ownership, Plummer said that some EVs can work out £7,000 more expensive than a petrol equivalent over three years or 30,000 miles.

“Overall, the TCO of EVs does get nearer to parity with petrol or diesel cars over time, and [savings] are equal for brand new cars and for older used cars,” Plummer said.

“But applying the TCO logic to younger used cars doesn’t make a cost equation that stacks up for buyers. Total cost of ownership of one or two year old vehicles is still around 30% higher than their petrol or diesel equivalents.”

With many EVs currently at the premium end of the market when it comes to overall costs, the prospect of going electric is still out of reach to many of those who aim to go greener. But speaking at the same conference, Plummer said that infrastructure is also a big barrier.

He said: “We can’t wait for queues at charge points. We have to make sure that we’re putting in more; we’re not holding back. Two in three people say that infrastructure is still a barrier to their adoption of EVs.”