Electric cars vs petrol cars: What you need to know.

Flash charging an EV car.

Why compare electric and petrol cars?

As the planet gets warmer, we’re all thinking about what we can do to make a difference in our daily lives. One of the ways we can cut carbon emissions, without changing our day to day too much, is by switching to an electric car.

However, there’s often confusion around the benefits of switching to an electric vehicle. For example will you save money in the long run or where can you get a home charger installed and what will the impact be?

We’re here to help you get the answers you need and compare electric cars to petrol cars.

What’s the main difference between an electric and petrol car?

Petrol cars are driven by an internal combustion engine which sends power to the wheels through a gearbox, whereas electric cars have one or more electric motors that are powered by a rechargeable battery.

Talking of the gearbox, electric cars tend to only have one automatic gear whilst petrol cars can have multiple gears. The higher gear, the faster you drive.

Are electric cars cheaper than petrol or diesel cars?

According to a report by Direct Line, the lifetime costs of running an electric car have fallen below those of comparable petrol models. Which means that it could now be cheaper to own and drive an electric car.

Whilst the up-front cost of an electric car is still more, around £5,000 at at the time of the report, they are a lot cheaper to run due to fuel savings, less tax and lower maintenance costs.

The study also found:

  • On average, over the course of its life, an electric vehicle will cost its owner £3,752 a year compared to £3,858 for a petrol car. This includes lease or purchase costs. This means an annual saving of £107.

  • If you remove the sale or lease costs, then the annual running costs of an electric vehicle average £1,742, or £33.50. Whereas a petrol car comes in, at £2,205 per year or £42.40 per week, so a saving of £463 per year.

  • Annual tax and maintenance costs (including MOTs and servicing) for electric vehicles are 49% lower than for petrol models.

  • The cost of fuelling an electric car costs 58% less than petrol car over the course of a year.

If you’re looking ahead, the research revealed that electric vehicles hold their value better than the petrol equivalents. Analysis of second-hand car data showed that a year-old electric vehicle only loses 12% of its value, compared to a 24% for petrol models.

Overall it seems that whilst buying an electric vehicle can be more expensive up front, the overall cost of the car over its lifetime will be less than if you go petrol.

So why the switch to electric cars?

In case you missed it, from 2030 the UK government is ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. This is designed to reduce our carbon emissions and help hit our goal of ending the UK’s contribution to climate change. It also means that more and more cars are going to be electric. Not quite the flying cars of the future we were promised, but it’s a positive start.

By ending the UK's contribution to climate change in 2050, carbon emissions will reduce by the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off the road.

How do I keep my car charged and on the road?

Well it means saying goodbye to that petrol forecourt and hello to charging points, and a lot of them nationally. The government announced it’s investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll-out of charge points for electric vehicles in homes and on motorways and streets across the UK.

Currently, when you’re on a motorway or major A road you’re never more than 25 miles away from a rapid charge point, and that’s only going to improve.

We’re also doing our bit too. We’ve already built more than 3,000 charging points across Europe, and now we’re bringing our network of Ultra Fast Charging (UFC) stations to the UK. It means you can charge your car for 10 minutes and it’ll go 100 miles. Perfect for that daily commute.