Which is cheaper: petrol, diesel or electric?

November 5, 2014 | By | In News

 

Electric cars may be hailed as the saviour of the planet and a cheap option for environmentally-conscious drivers, but will these cars actually save you money once you factor in the higher than average purchase price and charging costs?

We’ve compared the costs of buying and fuelling a petrol, diesel and electric Ford Focus, to show which car is the best value option for a typical driver covering 10,000 miles. Anyone covering fewer miles than this will need even longer to recoup the additional purchase costs of the electric model, though those covering more miles will see greater fuel savings.

We’ve compared the similarly equipped and similarly powerful petrol 1.0 125 Titanium X, the diesel 1.5 TDCi 120 Titanium X and the Focus Electric, so you know exactly which model makes the most sense for your wallet.

Ford Focus Electric – Annual cost: £138 – £483

Charge at home on an off-peak Economy 7 electricity tariff and the Focus electric could cost you just £138 to power for 10,000 miles of motoring – much cheaper than equivalent petrol or diesel bills. However, if you haven’t got the cheapest tariff that figure could swell to £483.

However, charging at public charging points is likely to cost much more per mile and the Focus electric is around £6,000 more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents – even after you take into account the government’s electric car grant of £5,000.

Ford Focus 1.0 125 Titanium X – Annual cost: £958.90

While the petrol Focus equivalent would set you back significantly more in fuel costs and car tax bills – though tax is just £20 per year – buyers save £6,285 by opting for the petrol car in the first place.

What this means is that even with the most favourable home energy tariff it would take a substantial 7.7 years to recoup the extra purchase cost of the Focus Electric. More expensive energy tariffs could increase that time to a substantial 13.2 years – much longer than the average car owner holds onto their vehicle.

Ford Focus 1.5 120 TDCi Titanium X – Annual cost: £785.98

Though the diesel model is more expensive to buy than the petrol, lower fuel costs and free car tax make the diesel around £170 cheaper per year to run. The purchase price stands at £700 over that of the petrol meaning that it would take around four years for a driver covering 10,000 miles per year to be better off with the diesel.

As for the comparison with the electric version, the diesel model is cheaper for the first 8.6 years of ownership even on the cheapest energy tariff, rising to 18.4 years for those on pricier home energy tariffs.

The conclusion of all of this for car buyers is that a typical driver would be worse off financially running an electric model compared to petrol or diesel equivalents. Though charging the electric Focus would set you back just £1.38 to £4.83 depending on electricity tariff, this only lets you cover 100 miles. A tank of fuel for petrol and diesel models may be much more expensive, but drivers can expect to cover around 720 to 890 miles per fill according to official fuel economy figures.

While the cost of petrol and diesel is likely to increase over the coming years, electricity prices are also subject to spiralling costs. As for the environmental credentials of electric cars, with a significant amount of UK energy being sourced from coal, charging an electric car may not be as environmentally friendly as you might expect. However, on balance running an electric car is likely to be better for the environment, but with current costs you’re going to have to pay for the privilege of running a less polluting vehicle.

 

Ford Focus Electric
Purchase cost: £28,580 (after £5,000 government grant)
Cost to charge: £1.38 – £4.83 (dependent upon tariff)
Range provided per charge: 100 miles
Cost to cover 10,000 miles: £138 – £483
Car tax: £0
Annual cost of fuel and car tax: £138 – £483

Petrol: Ford Focus 1.0 125 Titanium X
Purchase cost: £22,295
Fuel economy: 60.1mpg
Cost to cover 10,000 miles: £938.90
Car tax: £20
Annual cost of fuel and car tax: £958.90
Time before electric car pays for itself: 7.7 – 13.2 years

Diesel: Ford Focus 1.5 120 TDCi Titanium X
Purchase cost: £22,995
Fuel economy: 74.3mpg
Cost to cover 10,000 miles: £785.98
Car tax: £0
Annual cost of fuel and car tax: £785.98
Time before electric car pays for itself: 8.6 – 18.4 years

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