Action Surrey: Surrey's Low Carbon Community

Call us:

Do electric cars now make financial as well as environmental sense?

14 February 2017

  • Saving energy

No comments

The environmental benefits of electric vehicles (EV) are well-documented, but what about the financial benefits? Well, when you factor in fuel savings, road tax exemption and government grants, the accountant’s case for EV is a convincing one.

According to the Energy Savings Trust, the average charging cost for 100 miles in an electric vehicle is £2 to £3, compared to £9 to £13 of petrol or diesel costs over the same distance. Assuming that you drive 7,500 miles a year, the average for private cars in 2015, this translates to a saving of between £450 and £825 a year.

Then there’s the added lure of exemption from vehicle excise duty. If you’re already driving an environmentally friendly vehicle, this might not give you much incentive to switch to EV. But if you’re driving a more polluting vehicle, then switching could make a big impact on your bank balance; for petrol or diesel vehicles with CO2 emissions in excess of 255g/km registered on or after 1 April 2017, vehicle tax is set at £2,000.

At a glance: Financial incentives for Electric Vehicles
Fuel savings £450 - £850 per year
Tax savings up to £2,000 per year
Grant towards EV's capital cost £2,500 - £4,500
Grant towards a home-charging point up to £500

Still, even with reduced running costs, you need to consider the initial outlay of actually buying an electric vehicle. That’s where government grants come in. The Plug in Car Grant covers 35% of the purchase cost of an electric car, up to a maximum value of either £2,500 or £4,500 depending on your chosen model. And it’s not just the vehicle itself that you can get a grant for; the Homecharge scheme makes a 75% contribution to the cost of installing a domestic charge point, up to a maximum value of £500. 

For the private owner, EV is clearly a sound investment, with support for the upfront payment and reduced operating costs afterwards. But what about businesses looking to invest in an EV fleet or to support their staff in making the switch? Again government grants are on offer; the Workplace Charging Scheme provides contributions of up to £300 per socket for a maximum of 20 sockets, supporting businesses in the move to Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles.

The government has set an ambitious target of an almost exclusively ultra low emissions UK fleet by 2050. The tide is already turning. Between July and September 2016, over 11,000 new ultra low emission vehicles were registered in the UK, up 47% from the same period in 2015. But to keep up this momentum, electric vehicle uptake needs to keep increasing. Thankfully, making the switch to EV not only makes sense for the planet but also for your wallet.