Here at PetrolPrices our main focus is saving you money. We’re always looking forward in the industry and and from what we can see at the moment that seems to be electric cars, thanks to government pushes.

We wanted to get some numbers on the savings and benefits that you get from buying and owning an electric vehicle. That’s why we’ve heavily researched into electric vehicles, and the industries surrounding them to see what needs to change for government targets to happen. We haven’t just looked at power and the design itself, we’ve looked at insurance, repairs and more.

What we were looking for

This whole idea came about when Nick, one of our team, mentioned that his neighbour had got a Tesla Model S, but his insurance had gone from £500 to £3,000 overnight. While the car is an expensive car, something didn’t quite add up.

We realised that something in the insurance industry wasn’t right. Insurance companies hadn’t taken into account how much safer electric vehicles were compared to combustion engines, as their high torque (we’ll explain this later) allows them to manoeuvre around potential hazards quicker. We went around and got some insurance quotes for an average person, as well as repair costs, costs of filling up, longevity, second-hand value and so much more.

We’ve compiled all of these costs together to provide you with a comprehensive review of whether electric cars are worth the money at the moment for a standard motorist, and also analysed what needs to change in the industry to meet government targets by 2040.

Insurance costs

The first industry we looked at was the insurance industry. We asked GoCompare for quotes for an average person for a set of electric cars and for combustion cars, in all of these we’ve got the cheapest quote. We’ve chosen a set of 12 cars, with an electric vehicle pitted up against a combustion vehicle. The conditions set for the insurance are:

  • Social and single place of work
  • 8000 annual mileage
  • Drives in peak times
  • Same address
  • Employed
  • 43-year-old female
  • Clean licence
  • £500 excess
  • Non telematics policies
  • Kept on driveway

Here’s the cars and their quotes, listed with the provider as well

Electric Combustion
Nissan Leaf – £289.85 – LV Hyundai i30 – £202.24 – LV
BMW i3 – £339.21 – Hastings Direct BMW X2 – £315.60 – LV
KIA SOUL EV – £307.60 – LV Kia Soul – £274.60 – Hastings
Renault Zoe – £286.38 – LV Renault Clio – £206.13 – Hastings
Tesla Model X 90D – £1,583.68 – Admiral Audi Q5 – £373.43 – LV
Tesla Model S 100D – £1,824 –a choice Mercedes AMG E63S – £529.12 – LV

There’s a large discrepancy between the Kia Soul and the Kia Soul EV. Same size, same make of car only the Kia Soul insurance was £274.60, and the Kia Soul EV was £307.60. The cars are the same size and shape and the lower horsepower, and higher torque on the EV make it safer in real life as it has a smaller engine.

Even though it is an electric vehicle and therefore has more expensive parts to replace or maintain, the lower risk small engine size means that a considerable amount should have been knocked off the price. If there is an issue with the battery, then the warranty covers it for ten years or 100,000 miles, up to 70% degradation. The 70% degradation means that the warranty only covers the repairs if the battery capacity is less than 70%.

These quotes are all for cars of a similar technical spec regarding power and capability, even though one of the cars was combustion and the other electric.

Matt Oliver, spokesperson for GoCompare Car Insurance, said: “It’s easy to assume that electric cars are futuristic technology that’s simply unaffordable for the average household. It’s still early days for electric car technology, and you’ll find fewer car insurers offering cover on these vehicles. That’s why it’s so important to compare insurance premiums for electric cars so that you can find the best price possible, as fewer insurers covering electric vehicles, means less competition and higher premiums, so you might have to pay more than you would for a standard car.”

One thing that PetrolPrices wondered was due to the higher torque in electric vehicles, were insurance companies seeing the high numbers and placing a higher price. For those who don’t understand torque, the simplest way to explain it is the pull that you feel when you accelerate sharply on a car. For a more detailed explanation, have a look here.

The higher the torque, the quicker it is able to accelerate and therefore surely it would be quicker to maneuver out of harm’s way. Electric cars also have a much lower top speed, with most sitting around 80 mph meaning that the risks associated with higher speeds simply don’t happen in an electric vehicle. The list price of vehicles may be what is driving up these costs, but the massive difference in price between the Mercedes, which has a list price starting at £80,000 and the Tesla, which starts at £90,000 is larger than the price difference between the Kia Soul and the Kia Soul EV, which have a price difference of the same spread, £10,000.

The repair industry

One of our partners, worked with us to help understand the electric car industry in terms of repairs. One interesting point that was picked up was that because the knowledge in the industry is unknown, the mechanical engineers within the industry are struggling to repair some electric cars as the whole structure of a combustion car is completely different to an electric vehicle.

Craig Stein the owner of Steins Garage, winner of the Best Garage in Scotland 2016 said “Car’s are developing quicker than some garages can keep up with and it will important that the right training is put in place over the next few years otherwise the price difference between fixing an electric car and a combustion engine car might actually put people off buying electric.”

There’s almost no knowledge of an approximate cost for any repair as one garage may have done a fix before, but most of the time due to the lack of training and knowledge there is a higher cost than anticipated due to the parts, the labour and also the time taken to look into the problem.

Al Mia, owner of Autowerke Garage, finalist in the Best Garage of London 2017, brought up a point about the Teslas: “The Tesla Model x 100D and Tesla Model S 100D spend much more time in the garage that most cars as the time it takes to get a new parts is longer than almost every other car model. This is because there are only a few distribution centres in the UK. Furthermore, if the part is not in stock, it will have to be ordered from the factory in California and flown to the UK, extending the delay further.” For combustion car parts, a simple trip to the local distributor solves all issues as most cars use similar parts, for example a BMW might use a Ford clutch, and a Renault could have a Citroen indicator.

With Tesla cars, all the parts are specially made for Teslas only, and while they are lovely, if not premium, it costs more to replace than a standard part. If something goes badly wrong with the battery, a specialist Tesla crew is sent out as the battery could potentially be too dangerous for a standard engineer to deal with. As seen above the insurance for a Tesla is pretty high, and this is probably one of the main factors of that.

Kyle Burke, owner of Eagle Autos, winner of the Best Garage in London 2017 said “There are a lot more electric cars on the road than there were only a couple of years ago which means we have had to adapt and learn about repairing new components. The way an electric car is put together is different from a combustion-engined car, which means some garages might charge significantly more money for labour as they need more time to figure out how to make the fix.”

Overall other experts in the repair industry have highlighted to us that the training and knowledge of electric car fixes is lacking and people are looking to encourage and expand their knowledge but with more and more car companies announcing new electric models and designs everyday the car manufacturers are striding ahead of the rest of the industry to try and validate themselves as being part of the ‘electric movement’ but sadly the repair industry is struggling to keep up.

Charging vs filling up

We’ve probably all seen charging pods popping up around us, from supermarkets to service stations, all the major players in the forecourt industry are hopping on the trend of EV charging points.

For this comparison, we chose to look at the cost per mile for charging a car vs the cost per mile for filling up a car with petrol. We chose a Renault Zoe vs a Renault Clio for this one and looked at the cost of charging at home per mile, the cost of charging publicly per mile and finally the cost per mile on petrol.

To charge the Renault Zoe at home to full charge overnight, the cost per mile is 4.2p compared to around 12p per mile on public chargers, according to data from WhatCar?. Taking a price of 121.3ppl, the cost to fill up would be 10.4p a mile for a Renault Clio. While you’re saving a considerably large amount for overnight charging for charging a Renault Zoe, if you need to fill up on the road it could be costing you a lot more.

With electric, the price shouldn’t change too much, and you can be fairly sure of a consistent price year round, but with petrol the price changes almost daily, and if the price of oil goes up then you can see the effect this has all around.

Another issue in this peripheral is the availability of electric chargers. With 9000 devices covering 5,500 spots, the availability of charging where you need it is not at its full potential yet. There are petrol stations spread across the length and breadth of the country but not yet for EV charging points.

Tax, grants and charges

When buying an electric vehicle, you can receive up to £3,500 off the retail price of a brand new car that is deducted automatically and requires no application. You can also receive a grant of up to 75% of the cost of installing a charging point in your home, and workplaces can also receive similar grants to install spots at work parking.

Electric vehicles are exempt from VED tax unless they have a list price of over £40,000 at which it is £310 a year for five years. After that, there is no more VED tax.

On the other hand, diesels that emit more CO2 are required to pay higher tax based on their emissions ratings. The Renault Clio, which has a CO2 emission of 160 CO2 g/km, first-year road tax is £160 for a single 12-month payment, and after that, it is £140 for a single 12-month payment.

So, is it worth it?

From everything we’ve looked at and analysed, as well as asking industry experts, we’ve found out a few things.

The car manufacturing industry is moving at a faster pace than the peripherals can keep up. The car service industry is struggling to understand all the new cars and parts are few and far between. Labour costs are more because the build of an EV is completely different to a combustion car.

Insurance premiums are higher because of the numbers associated with electric vehicles, yet the less risks associated with EV’s should be lower. Insurance companies should review their policies on insuring electric vehicles and see whether the industry is fair towards them.

Yet, despite all this, it seems that the attraction of electric has not decreased yet, people are still interested in the lower running costs and the lack of VED. If you have an electric car for 4 years your running costs will be lower, our example case of the Kia Soul EV was £2,062.40 for 4 years costs whereas the Kia Soul was £6,097.40. However taking into consideration the initial list price, the Kia Soul EV is £25,995 for the entry level model, with the Kia Soul priced at £14,525 for the same model spec as the EV. At the moment, combustion engines have a lower depreciation after 4 years, with the Kia Soul at 45% and the Kia Soul EV at 63%. These values are an approximate and are based on 2018 models, but even so the depreciation shows how much the value of electric cars go down.

Electric has a future, but whether it is affordable for most people in the present is not attainable at the moment. Even with all the government help and advice, the UK is simply not ready for electric vehicles. The infrastructure of millions of electric cars charging at the same time has the potential to push pressure onto the electricity generators which could very easily lead to a national crisis.

What needs to change is for electric cars to become cheaper initially but also for the longevity of them to be understood. Hyundai won’t give out the battery replacement cost because they believe their batteries will last forever. Most combustion cars last 16 years before they are scrapped, and while electric has not been around for long enough to give a fair judgement, it is forecast that they will be able to run for a lot longer.

What do you think about electric vehicles? Would you consider purchasing one after reading this article? Let us know in the comments below
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