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How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Nissan Leaf EV being charged

You’re probably reading this because you’re starting to feel the impact of high fuel prices. In fact, petrol and diesel prices hit an all-time high in March.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has led to geopolitical sanctions being imposed on the latter. As a result, Australia has banned all Russian oil imports, which made up 1.2 per cent of our total crude imports last year and supplies 11 per cent of gas and oil imports globally.

Currently, the average price for 91RON unleaded petrol is $2.04 per litre compared to $1.33 per litre this time last year.

electric car being charged

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Here's a few clarifications to note:

  • The range you get from a full battery in an electric car is generally less than a full tank in a petrol car. It is therefore not a like-for-like comparison.
  • The best way to compare the cost of filling up a petrol car and fully charging an electric car is by comparing the cost of covering the same distance. In this case, we’ve used 100km as the measurement basis.
  • Petrol prices generally operate within a given range irrespective of type or geography. Electricity prices on the other hand can vary significantly, depending on where the electricity is sourced (i.e. public fast chargers, the grid, solar).
electric car being charged at home

To illustrate the difference in cost, we've analysed the typical cost of covering 100km based on average prices you would typically from each source. We have chosen an MG ZS small SUV as the comparison vehicle, as it has both petrol and electric variants.

The electric option is substantially cheaper for the same distance covered. Relying on public fast chargers will yield a 64 per cent saving, but if you're lucky enough to charge from your own solar system, the saving is 97 per cent.

Charging an electric car is cheaper than filling a petrol car irrespective of how you charge it. You can use our charging calculator to determine the time and cost of charging your EV.

What Are the Annual Fuel Savings From Going Electric?

The annual fuel savings from going electric is directly correlated with the distance driven. On the above assumptions, the electric option (if charged from home) will yield a $14 saving for every 100km compared to the equivalent petrol vehicle. Essentially, the more you drive, the more you save.

In the chart below we’ve analysed the annual cost over distances ranging from a few thousand to seventy thousand kilometres per annum.

For example, the average Australian who drives 37km a day would save anywhere between $1465 to $2228 per annum, depending on how they charged their electric car.

Fuel savings step up substantially the more you drive. This does not include the savings from maintenance and service, which will also be substantial.

Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?

Are electric cars better for the environment – even if they’re charged from the grid (which is still primarily powered by coal and gas)? Yes. It is certainly not 'zero-emissions', but it is still significantly cleaner.

If you're in New South Wales (NSW) where renewable energy comprises 20 per cent of total energy sources, it will be 39 per cent cleaner. In Tasmania, where renewables comprise 83 per cent of total energy, emissions will be 87 per cent lower. If you’re charging from solar panels, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’ll be 100 per cent clean, making your electric car truly zero emissions in operation.

Note this analysis just focuses on tailpipe emissions and does not factor in the embedded carbon emissions from the manufacture of the cars, solar panels or the distribution of fuel.

Can Electric Cars be Cheaper to Own?

Yes, they can be. While the initial upfront cost of EVs are currently more expensive, they have lower running costs like charging and maintenance. Depending on how much you drive, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of EVs will eventually 'break even' the extra price difference paid for the EV over the petrol or diesel model over time.

For example, there’s nearly $16,000 (drive-away) separating the petrol MG ZST Excite and electric MG ZS EV Excite and. But, the average driver in NSW will likely recover that cost after five-years* of ownership by opting for the pure-electric crossover SUV version. This is due to a combination of EV incentives, lower 'fuel' and maintenance costs.

*Due to the limited availability of data, this example does not factor in the depreciation and resale values of each vehicle.

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