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Updated: 1 Jul 2022

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

We reveal how much it really costs to charge an electric car, plus how this compares with hybrid, petrol and diesel cars
Adrian Porter

Electric cars should cost hundreds of pounds less to charge compared to filling the same size car with petrol or diesel. But pick an inefficient car or a pricey charger, and you could end up paying more, not less, to run your electric vehicle.

Those who have off-street parking and can charge at home will not only benefit from the convenience of being able to charge on their own driveway, but should also be able to get the cheapest rates.

If you can't charge from home, you will have to pay more to charge your car using public charging points. The fastest way to charge an electric car is to use a rapid or ultra-rapid charging point, but that's also the most expensive way to keep your electric vehicle running. Some chargers are so pricey that you could end up paying more than you would to fuel the equivalent-sized petrol or diesel car.

However, some public charge points are free to use and we can show you how to find them. 

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about how much it costs to charge an electric car, plus we reveal the cheapest (and the most expensive) electric cars to run.


Cheaper to run and satisfying to drive – take one of the best electric cars for a test drive and you may never drive a petrol or diesel again.


Gridserve electric car forecourt at Braintree

What it really costs to charge an electric car: a quick guide

As a general guide, based on our independent tests, here's how much you're likely to pay to cover 9,000 miles* if you can charge at home:

  • £710 to £800 a year to run a dinky sized city cars, such as the VW E-Up or a small hatchback like the Renault Zoe.
  • £800 to £900 for medium and large cars, such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 respectively. It's a similar amount for compact SUVs, such as the Hyundai Kona.
  • £950 to £1,150 for large SUVs like the Audi e-tron.

As you can see from our figures, how much power an electric car uses is largely influenced by its weight and size. But, like their combustion counterparts, some electric cars are much more frugal with their battery power than others.


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Which electric cars cost the least to charge?

In the same way that a petrol or diesel car can either be fuel efficient or a fuel drinker, there are big differences in how efficiently electric cars use the power from their batteries. So charging costs will vary from one electric car to another.

Unlike traditional combustion cars, there is also some energy lost when charging an electric car. This is because it takes more electricity to charge a battery than a battery can hold. We refer to this as loss of charge, and some cars/batteries suffer more than others.

Our electricity consumption figures takes account of how much electricity a car uses when driving and incorporates loss of charge to create a more realistic idea of power use. 

You’ll find out running costs for every car tested since 2012, electric or otherwise, in our car reviews. Here, we’ve pulled out some of the most energy efficient electric cars from our independent tests.

All of our expert electric car reviews will tell you how much a car will cost you to run a year, so you can compare costs and make sure you don't get caught out.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric car_side

Most efficient medium or large car: Hyundai Ioniq (2016-) 

  • Cost of charging at home: 7.3p per mile or £661.05 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using slow/fast AC public charge points: 9.2p per mile or £826.32 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using rapid DC public charge points (50kW): 13.1p per mile or £1,180.45 over 9,000 miles*
  • Electricity consumption: 16.3kWh per 100km
  • Needed for 9,000 miles: 2,361kWh*
  • Performance: 136hp
  • Battery capacity: 38.3kWh
  • Required to fill battery to 100%: 44.1kWh

The Hyundai Ioniq is extraordinary when it comes to energy efficiency. Not to be confused with the newer and similarly named Ioniq5, the original Ioniq is a large car with a kerb weight of around 1.6-tonnes that costs less than £700 a year to keep charged over 9,000 miles (if you're able to charge from home). It's so efficient that it puts many smaller, lighter cars to shame.

How far will it get on a single charge and what's it like to drive? Find out by reading our Hyundai Ioniq (2016-) review.

Most efficient city or small car: Fiat 500e (2020-) 

  • Cost of charging at home: 7.8p per mile or £705.67 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using slow/fast AC public charge points: 9.8p per mile or £882.08 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using rapid DC public charge points (50kW): 14p per mile or £1,260.12 over 9,000 miles*
  • Electricity consumption: 17.4kWh per 100km
  • Needed for 9,000 miles: 2,520kWh*
  • Performance: 118hp
  • Battery capacity: 37.3kWh
  • Required to fill battery to 100%: 42.9kWh

The dinky 500e is an electric version of Fiat's iconic city car. The convertible version we've tested came with a 42kWh battery and a claim of 188 miles on a single charge. We found the car nippy and agile, but there is some compromise.

Get the full picture by reading our Fiat 500e convertible (2020-) review.

Most efficient compact/small SUV: Hyundai Kona Electric (2018-)

  • Cost of charging at home: 7.5p per mile or £677.28 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using slow/fast AC public charge points: 9.4p per mile or £846.60 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using rapid DC public charge points (50kW): 13.4p per mile or £1,209.42 over 9,000 miles*
  • Electricity consumption: 16.7kWh per 100km
  • Needed for 9,000 miles: 2,419kWh*
  • Performance: 204hp
  • Battery capacity: 64kWh
  • Required to fill battery to 100%: 72.8kWh

Hyundai (and related brand Kia), are particularly good at making their electric cars efficient, which means more range per charge and lower running costs. The Kona was among the first electric small SUV crossovers to grace dealerships, we re-tested it in 2020 following an update to the model. In our tests, we found the updated version is even more efficient than the original, with a phenomenally low consumption rate of just 16.7kWh/100km.

It might have been among the first of its kind, but how is it holding up against current competition? Find out by diving into our Hyundai Kona electric (2018-) review.

Most efficient mid/large SUV: BMW iX3 (2021-)

  • Cost of charging at home: 9.6p per mile or £859.78 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using slow/fast AC public charge points: 11.9p per mile or £1,074.72 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using rapid DC public charge points (50kW): 17.1p per mile or £1,535.31 over 9,000 miles*
  • Electricity consumption: 21.2kWh per 100km
  • Needed for 9,000 miles: 3,070kWh*
  • Performance: 286hp
  • Battery capacity: 73.8kWh
  • Required to fill battery to 100%: 85.3kWh

The iX3 isn’t an all-new car but rather an electrified version of the popular X3 family SUV. It's impressively comfortable and spacious, and with remarkably low consumption of just 21.2kWh/100km, it's also the most efficient electric SUV of its size that we've tested yet. 

Does this car have any drawbacks at all? Find out by reading our BMW iX3 (2021-) review.

Least efficient electric car in our tests: Polestar 2 (2020-) (dual-motor version)

  • Cost of charging at home: 13.2p per mile or £1,184.22 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using slow/fast AC public charge points: 16.4p per mile or £1,480.28 over 9,000 miles*
  • When using rapid DC public charge points (50kW): 23.5p per mile or £2,114.68 over 9,000 miles*
  • Electricity consumption: 29.2kWh per 100km
  • Needed for 9,000 miles: 2,360kWh*
  • Performance: 408hp
  • Battery capacity: 73.8kWh
  • Required to fill battery to 100%: 85.3kWh

At the other end of the spectrum is the Polestar 2. A large, luxury hatchback, you can buy the Polestar 2 with either two electric motors (called dual motor) or just one (single motor).

While the dual motor option delivers a staggering 72.5kW of power (equivalent to 408hp) and eyebrow raising performance, it also saps the battery at an alarming rate hence the 29.2kWh/100km figure, making it the least efficient electric car we've tested to date.

Charge this car at home and it costs the same to run as a typical petrol-hybrid would. But use pricey DC rapid chargers (which can cost 50p per kWh or more), and it will cost more to run than your typical petrol or diesel large car.

However, choose the single motor version of the Polestar 2 and it's a completely different story. Averaging a frugal 18.5kWh/100km in the same tests, it costs substantially less to run at 8.3p per mile or £750 over 9,00 miles (for those who can charge at home).

Are you after blistering acceleration or longer range and lower bills? Read our Polestar 2 (2020-) review to find out.

* Mileage and energy costs: 9,000 miles is the average (pre-Covid) mileage survey respondents said they did in our most recent car survey. (UK wide survey, 47,013 owners told us about 55,833 cars they own). Home charging uses a rate of 28p per kWh, public AC charging uses a rate of 35p per kWh and DC rapid charging uses a rate of 50p per kWh.

Tesco VW PodPoint charger

Where can I charge my electric car for free?

Yes, you really can charge your electric car for free. Various businesses and attractions offer free charging, as well as retail parks and regular car parks. The catch is that it’s typically for paying customers of that business, and in some places, parking restrictions/fees may still apply.

Supermarkets are most likely where you will find free chargers. At the end of 2021, according to Zap Map, there were over 1,000 free charger across supermarkets alone. Tesco, for instance, has partnered up with Volkswagen and Pod Point. It provides free charging on its fast (7-22kW) charge points, while its rapid chargers (50kW) still require payment. Though it's a collaboration with Volkswagen, all cars can use the chargers.

Pod Point, provider of the free charge points at Tesco and other supermarkets, is the one of the largest networks in the UK.

But just because a Pod Point charger is free it doesn't mean you can just plug it in and walk away. You'll still need to use Pod Point's app to start the charge, or alternatively, visit the company's website and select the charger you're using. 

This means you'll need a smartphone or other internet-enabled device to start a charge (though you will get up to 15 minutes of charging without this).

Zap-Map is one of the most useful resources to today's electric car driver. Its app and website has mapped over 95% of the available chargers in the UK (no one has 100%).

You can use the filters on the Zap-Map website to look for charge points and filter by network, plug types, whether you can pay by bank card and more. You can also filter by free charging points (go to the 'Payment' filter, then select 'free to use'). 

The public charging infrastructure is complicated and could feel overwhelming at first. We'll help you get to grips with it – find out what you need to know in our guide on how to use electric car charging points.

Kia E-Niro (2019-) review

Why can charging an electric car be more expensive than petrol, diesel or hybrids?

With very few exceptions, it should always be cheaper to charge your electric car at home. But if you're using charging points away from home, you could end up paying up more than any other car type.

Those using Rapid and Ultra Rapid chargers (the fastest way to get electricity into your car) are particularly at risk from paying more than their fossil fuel counterparts.

As an example, our lab tests show that medium-sized electric hatchbacks like the VW id.3 use an average of 20.38kwh per 100km in our tests. That means a car this size will use 2951.9kWh over 9,000 miles - the typical pre-covid annual mileage.

If you were to pay 47p per kWh or more to charge it – and many rapid or ultra-rapid chargers cost more than this – you’d pay £1,387.37 over a year. That’s more costly than the equivalent sized diesel car.

If you don't want to pay over the odds, use our information below. Basically, if you're paying more than the number on the far right, you're paying more for your electricity than the equivalent hybrid or traditional combustion car.

Medium cars

Medium hatchback/coupéAverage fuel consumption in Which? testsCost per 9,000 milesPoint at which electric becomes more expensive 
Electric20.38kwh per 100kmn/an/a
Diesel56mpg£1,362.39 (15.1p per mile)47p per kWh
Petrol41.4mpg£1,786.98 (19.9p per mile)61p per kWh

Large cars

Large hatchback/coupéAverage fuel consumption in Which? testsCost per 9,000 milesPoint at which electric becomes more expensive 
Electric21.44kwh per 100kmn/an/a
Full hybrid (petrol)57.5mpg£1,292.30 (14.4p per mile)42p per kWh
Diesel48.4mpg£1,576.84 (17.5p per mile)51p per kWh
Petrol35.7mpg£2,074.20 (23p per mile)67p per kWh

Compact or small SUV

Compact/Small SUV typeAverage fuel consumption in Which? testsCost per 9,000 milesPoint at which electric becomes more expensive 
Electric20.65kwh per 100kmn/an/a
Full hybrid (petrol)50.6mpg£1,460.22 (16.2p per mile)49p per kWh
Diesel49mpg£1,557.53 (17.3p per mile)53p per kWh
Petrol41.4mpg£1,785.26 (19.8p per mile)60p per kWh

Medium and large SUVS

Medium/Large SUV typeAverage fuel consumption in Which? testsCost per 9,000 milesPoint at which electric becomes more expensive 
Electric24.23kwh per 100kmn/an/a
Full hybrid (petrol)45.9mpg£1,611.01 (17.9p per mile)46p per kWh
Diesel41.3mpg£1,846.96 (20.5p per mile)53p per kWh
Petrol37.9mpg£1,951.06 (21.7p per mile)56p per kWh

Tables updated June 2022. Petrol rate is 180.73p per litre, Diesel rate is 186.57p per litre, taken from RAC's Fuel Watch.

Use the results of our independent lab and road tests to help you choose your next car – see our expert pick of the best electric cars.


Drive smarter and cut costs using our expert advice. Get our Cars newsletter – it's free monthly