A quarter of UK drivers believe electric cars are more expensive to run – but they’re wrong

Research shows that many UK drivers believe electric cars are more expensive to run than fuel-powered cars. They’re wrong – and here is why.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Typical street lined with terraced houses and parked cars

Image source: Getty Images

When investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you put in.

Read More

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, any form of personal advice. Investments in a currency other than sterling are exposed to currency exchange risk. Currency exchange rates are constantly changing, which may affect the value of the investment in sterling terms. You could lose money in sterling even if the stock price rises in the currency of origin. Stocks listed on overseas exchanges may be subject to additional dealing and exchange rate charges, and may have other tax implications, and may not provide the same, or any, regulatory protection as in the UK.

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More.

Although electric cars have grown in popularity in the last couple of years, there’s still a fair bit of confusion and a number of misconceptions about these cars. A new study has found that a quarter of UK drivers mistakenly believe that electric cars are more expensive to run than their fuel-powered counterparts.

In this article, we’ll look at the costs of running an electric car and how it can save you money in the long term.

What are UK drivers’ opinions on electric cars?

In November 2020, the UK government announced that it will ban the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 2030 – a full decade earlier than planned.

Following this announcement, car retailer Robins & Day conducted a study to establish public opinion on electric cars and their associated costs.

The study found that:

  • 50% of UK drivers plan to switch to an electric vehicle by buying or leasing no later than 2025.
  • 15% of drivers will wait it out until 2030.
  • 66% of respondents feel that price is the biggest barrier to making the switch to an electric car.
  • 76% of drivers believe it is more expensive to buy an electric car than a fuel-powered vehicle.

But perhaps the most interesting finding from the study was that a quarter of drivers (26%) think that electric vehicles are more expensive to run.

That is incorrect. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

How much does it cost to run an electric car?

OK, so even with the government’s plug-in grant of £3,000, electric cars are a bit more expensive to buy than fuel-powered vehicles. However, it’s a whole different story when it comes to the costs of running an electric car.

Robins & Day examined the potential savings that the average UK driver could make by switching from a fuel-powered vehicle to an electric one.

They found that swapping a diesel-fuelled car for an electric model with a similar spec could save drivers £5,200.90 in running costs alone over the next ten years. 

Similarly, switching from a petrol-fuelled car to an electric one could save drivers £4,393.20 in running costs in a decade.

Why is it less expensive to run an electric car?

First, charging an electric car costs less than filling a car up with petrol or diesel. Research actually suggests that you could save £800 to £900 every year on fuel costs by opting for an electric car.

Additionally, electric vehicles are exempt from road tax, which could save drivers up to £2,175 a year.

Also, since they have fewer moving parts, servicing and maintaining electric cars is both easier and more cost-effective. Confused.com estimates that the maintenance costs of an electric car are about 23% lower than their fossil-fuelled counterparts.

What about insurance?

While most running costs of an electric vehicle are lower than those of a fuel-powered equivalent, insuring an electric car can be more expensive.

This is because the electric car market is still new. Insurers don’t have sufficient historical data to work with regarding the costs of repairs.

However as these cars become more commonplace and as more data on the cost of repairs emerge, premiums are likely to come down.

That’s not to say you can’t get a good insurance deal for an electric vehicle right now. It’s never too early to start shopping around and comparing quotes using comparison sites like MoneySupermarket or GoCompare. This can help you find a suitable deal for your needs.


Contrary to the opinion of a good number of UK drivers, it’s actually much cheaper to run an electric car than a fuel-powered car in the long run.

Switching to an electric car means potential savings of thousands of pounds. And let’s not forget the benefit for the planet. 

But as with any other major purchase, don’t forget to do your research. Make sure it’s the right move for you before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

More on Personal Finance

Note paper with question mark on orange background
Personal Finance

Should you invest your ISA in a model portfolio?

Which model ISA portfolios offer both high performance and low fees? Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor and AJ Bell go under…

Read more »

Economic Uncertainty Ahead Sign With Stormy Background
Personal Finance

Is it time to exit emerging markets investments?

Investors may well be sitting on losses from emerging markets funds. Is it worth keeping the faith for a sustained…

Read more »

Personal Finance

Share trading? Three shares with turnaround potential

Share trading has been difficult in 2022, but which companies have turnaround potential? Jo Groves takes a closer look at…

Read more »

Man using credit card and smartphone for purchasing goods online.
Personal Finance

Revealed! Why Gen Z may be the savviest generation when it comes to credit cards

New research reveals that Gen Z may be the most astute when it comes to credit cards. But why? And…

Read more »

Environmental technology concept.
Personal Finance

The 10 best-performing sectors for ISA investors

The best-performing sectors over the past year invested in real assets such as infrastructure, but is this trend set to…

Read more »

Road sign warning of a risk ahead
Personal Finance

Recession risk ‘on the rise’: is it time for investors to worry?

A major global bank has suggested the risk of a recession in the UK is 'on the rise'. So, should…

Read more »

pensive bearded business man sitting on chair looking out of the window
Personal Finance

1 in 4 cutting back on investments amid cost of living crisis

New research shows one in four investors have cut back on their investing contributions to cope with the rising cost…

Read more »

Image of person checking their shares portfolio on mobile phone and computer
Personal Finance

The 10 most popular stocks among UK investors so far this year

As the new tax year kicks off, here's a look at some of the most popular stocks among UK investors…

Read more »