For the impatient – 11 p (UK) a mile all-in, including insurance. For the detail, read on! Do shout if you can think of any costs I’ve not included.

Just over a year ago I was looking for a replacement car to make my 25-mile each way commute easier, so I seriously considered buying an automatic Skoda Yeti to replace my 10 year old Fabia. I’d always maintained my cars myself but didn’t want to do this forever; so the next car would be looked after by someone else. I then realised that electric cars could also handle the commute easily, and I test drove a 100% electric Nissan Leaf (did I mention it has no internal combustion engine?!)

Doing some sums it was clear that a used EV looked promising. Low interest rate loans combined with the low running costs of an EV make sense so you shouldn’t be afraid of borrowing if you need to. It’s the total cost that matters. Buying a Nissan Leaf was less straightforward, see Buying a used electric Leaf for more on that.

Over the past year the Leaf has indeed done the commuting job fantastically well, and much more besides, see Out-of-range trips in the Leaf . It has taken a good few thousand miles off our other car (still a diesel) and we covered nearly 14,000 miles in the year, about 10,000 were commutes and the rest “errands” and a few longer trips.

It’s interesting to note that a main-dealer 3 year old car would cost you a bit more in 2017 than I paid a year before. Values seem to be hardening as demand picks up.

I used my Nissan ConnectEV online dashboard to find the energy use over the year and 13600 miles, and I’ve averaged 4.7 miles per kWh. The true cost is in fact a little higher, because of charging losses, so taking off 10% gives 4.2 miles per kWh. At 7.5 pence per kWh overnight rate, that’s 1.77 pence per mile for energy.

Other costs this year were:

2 Front Tyres £136

Nissan main dealer Major Service and MOT £203

Insurance £240

Road tax £0

Depreciation £750 -hard to put a figure on this, I could probably sell the car today for what I paid for it. But long-term the value will drop – especially when an affordable 200-mile class car is on sale – so this allows for it. Note that this is the largest component of the costs and is also the least certain!

Energy 13600 miles at 1.77p/mile (charging overnight with 100% renewable energy at Economy 7 rate) £242

No battery hire to pay

Total £1571 or 11p/mile all-in

That compares very well to the other car I was considering- a ’13 Skoda Yeti, which I calculated at 34p/mile. It’s about two-thirds less; a big saving. The Yeti isn’t unusually expensive to run, either, but most running costs (fuel, maintenance and tax) are a lot more than the Leaf.

It’s also significantly cheaper than the 17p/mile my old Skoda 1.4 diesel cost me, so the car is indeed paying for itself.

Of course YMMV, “Your Mileage May Vary” if your insurance bill is higher, or if you do far more or far fewer miles then the economics will vary. But I think by any standards, a used EV is great value right now and as a fellow Renault Zoe owner put it, for a second car an EV is a no-brainer. As an only car, for longer trips you have the choice of charging en-route or hiring something else (like a Tesla!) if you really need to cover hundreds of miles in one hit- and have a huge bladder to match 🙂

Put another way, the energy cost is equivalent to getting 295 miles per gallon, with no road tax and all the other side-benefits of an EV – the quiet drive, great acceleration at roundabouts, waking up to a warm fuelled-up car (no filling up at petrol stations), remote air-con or heating, independence from fossil fuels, smugness factor, etc etc.

Aside from my carbon road bike, the Leaf is simply the best, most enjoyable product I have ever purchased.


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