GR Supra (2019-)
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.
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:
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.
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.
The Hyundai Ioniq is extraordinary when it comes to energy efficiency. Not to be confused with the newer and similarly named , 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
* 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.
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 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').
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 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 hatchback/coupé||Average fuel consumption in Which? tests||Cost per 9,000 miles||Point at which electric becomes more expensive|
|Electric||20.38kwh per 100km||n/a||n/a|
|Diesel||56mpg||£1,362.39 (15.1p per mile)||47p per kWh|
|Petrol||41.4mpg||£1,786.98 (19.9p per mile)||61p per kWh|
|Large hatchback/coupé||Average fuel consumption in Which? tests||Cost per 9,000 miles||Point at which electric becomes more expensive|
|Electric||21.44kwh per 100km||n/a||n/a|
|Full hybrid (petrol)||57.5mpg||£1,292.30 (14.4p per mile)||42p per kWh|
|Diesel||48.4mpg||£1,576.84 (17.5p per mile)||51p per kWh|
|Petrol||35.7mpg||£2,074.20 (23p per mile)||67p per kWh|
|Compact/Small SUV type||Average fuel consumption in Which? tests||Cost per 9,000 miles||Point at which electric becomes more expensive|
|Electric||20.65kwh per 100km||n/a||n/a|
|Full hybrid (petrol)||50.6mpg||£1,460.22 (16.2p per mile)||49p per kWh|
|Diesel||49mpg||£1,557.53 (17.3p per mile)||53p per kWh|
|Petrol||41.4mpg||£1,785.26 (19.8p per mile)||60p per kWh|
|Medium/Large SUV type||Average fuel consumption in Which? tests||Cost per 9,000 miles||Point at which electric becomes more expensive|
|Electric||24.23kwh per 100km||n/a||n/a|
|Full hybrid (petrol)||45.9mpg||£1,611.01 (17.9p per mile)||46p per kWh|
|Diesel||41.3mpg||£1,846.96 (20.5p per mile)||53p per kWh|
|Petrol||37.9mpg||£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.