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Cost-of-living crisis: ‘Electric cars are still cheaper to run’

Despite the soaring electricity prices, research shows you’ll still save money running an EV ‒ plus top tips from the experts on how to save even more

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ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.
ABOUT THIS PROJECTPlug It In is a new initiative by the Evening Standard to jump-start the electric vehicle conversation among Londoners and help shape a greener global future. Plug It In is supported by commercial partners, which share the project's aims, but our journalism remains editorially independent.

Making the switch to electric can still save you pennies, says the RAC

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23 September 2022

There’s been a flurry of energy-price fluctuations over the past couple of months, but despite the dropping of fuel prices and energy price rises (and more to come), the latest research shows that it’s still cheaper to run an electric car.

The planned rise of electricity to around 34p per kWh (a jump from the current average unit of 28p) on October 1 will bump up the price of running an EV, but, according to the RAC, it’s still cheaper than driving a petrol car. Comparing similar cars under comparable conditions, the organisation found that an EV driver would pay 9p per mile while a petrol driver would pay 19p.

Still, with electricity at an all-time high, EV drivers will be looking to save all the charge, and pounds, they can. With the help of Stuart Masson, editor of car ownership advice site The Car Expert, and Simon Williams, EV lead at the RAC, here’s our list of money-saving tips to help keep costs as low as possible…

Charge at home overnight on the off-peak rate. Most chargers have smart-charge software that powers up when electricity is cheapest at around 2am ‒ so if you’re charging a home only do so overnight.

Borrow someone else’s charger. Public chargers have higher cost for electric ‒ Osprey recently increased its charging price to £1/kwh – and you’ll be paying 20% VAT rather than the 5% you pay at home, too. Try apps such as Zap-Home, which show local drivers who are offering their drives for cheaper charging.

If you have to go public, go slow. If you can’t charge at home, find a slow charge point, usually operated by councils from lampposts. These have overnight parking bays and you can charge from empty to 80 per cent in eight hours.

Don’t use rapid chargers unless they are free. Use services such as Zap-Map to hunt out free EV-charging facilities wherever you go. Some companies offer this as a perk ‒ and Tesco still offers cheap or free charging while you shop.

Don’t fully charge your car and don’t let the battery run flat. The first and last parts of the battery take the longest to charge so set your EV to stop charging at 80% and avoid running your battery lower than 20% ‒ best practice for battery health and longevity.

Don’t charge your car every night. Most people drive no more than 20 miles a day and the average EV range is around 200 miles, so charge when you know you need to.

Use regenerative braking to recharge your battery. Your car will naturally work to do this when you slow downbut remember to lift off the accelerator and coast whenever you can.

Save up your errands. Just as with any car, taking one journey with three stops uses less power than three separate journeys.

Check your tyres. Under-inflated tyres can use 6 per cent more power, while low-rolling resistance tyres can help extend an EV’s range by up to 12 per cent.

Don’t put the heating or air-con on full blast or pump up the stereo. The less you ask of your battery, and the more driving time you give to regenerative charging, the less you’ll need to plug it in.

Look out for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging. A bit pie in the sky at the moment, but look out for new tech coming in that allows cars with CHAdeMO charging systems to fill their car batteries with cheaper, greener energy overnight, and then sell it back to the national grid during the day for a profit. A trial project by Octopus Energy of Nissan Leaf owners found that customers using V2G technology could save up to £840 a year, compared with unscheduled charging on a flat-rate tariff.

For more on the Evening Standard campaign for electric vehicles see standard.co.uk/plugitin