We've compared a number of EVs to their petrol equivalents to see how the savings stack up. And there's probably no easier comparison than the iconic VW Golf and its electric clone, the e-Golf.
The VW Golf is a well-loved hatchback that’s just as great for city driving as it is for families. We’ve chosen a VW Golf 1.5 TSI Automatic.
It's no surprise then that the e-Golf is many people's choice for a first EV. With a real world range of 125 miles and a 35.8KWh battery, the e-Golf is a popular starter.
We’ve assumed that both cars are being driven an average 10,000 miles per year by our test family - a family of four living in a typical suburban house.
Oh, and we've added the roughly £6,000 cost of a 5kWh home solar PV installation onto the cost of the e-Golf. Can the electric car still make savings in the medium term?
Golf vs eGolf - the cost breakdown:
Purchasing or financing
Let’s look at what you would spend to get solar panels installed and the e-Golf on the road, versus buying a classic Golf outright.
You’ll be looking at around a £27,900 outlay to purchase an e-Golf, compared to around £26,500 for the regular golf. We have also included the price of an EV charger (around £1,400) in this comparison). And we've subtracted the UK government’s £3,000 electric car grant from the total. Solar panels on your roof (photovoltaics, or PV for short) are likely to cost you at least £6,000 upfront, making for a total cost of £35,300 for the EV and PV.
If you finance your EV and PV, you’ll be looking at around £520 monthly, with a downpayment of £9,750. This is only a little more expensive than the classic Golf, which is around £444 with a £7,950 down payment.
But the comparison doesn't end there, as savings are to be found in fuel and running costs, which pay back the higher initial purchase price and more.
Fuel and electricity costs
As you might expect, the e-Golf is going to be considerably cheaper to fuel than the classic Golf. Our test family would spend an estimated £145 per month to fuel a classic Golf, vs. a miniscule £14 per month to fuel an e-Golf for the same trips. The saving here is so substantial that it wipes out the extra financing cost of the e-Golf.
The difference per mile is even greater. For the classic Golf, you can expect to pay around £1.25 per litre of petrol. If your car is home on a sunny day, with PV installed you will be charging your EV for free. With a smart overnight electricity tariff, you could be charging your EV at a cost of only 1p or 2p per mile even when the sun is not shining.
Of course, the PV on your roof doesn’t just reduce your cost to fuel your car; it also reduces your general home electricity costs. You won't be 'offgrid' and entirely self-sufficient, but you may be producing more electricity than you need in the middle of the day and getting paid to export it to the national grid by your utility company. What's more your initial investment in PV will keep generating energy for you for at least 25 years, protecting you from rising energy bills.
The e-Golf and PV installation comes with a much lighter carbon footprint - we calculate that you’ll output an estimated 0.6 tonnes of CO2 every year for 10,000 miles. And, because you are consuming your own green electricity, your home will have a lower carbon footprint too. Contrast this to buying the classic Golf, where you’ll emit approximately 2.87 tonnes of CO2 just by the trips alone.
Many people look at an EV as a way of reducing their carbon emissions. Combining it with a PV installation could get you even further in terms of achieving significant reductions to your carbon emissions.
Insurance, tax and servicing
Again the EV and PV combo triumphs over the classic Golf. You will pay a little more to insure the e-Golf (and remember, it really pays to shop around for EV insurance). However, you’ll pay less to tax it (£0, in fact) and less to service it. Electric vehicles are exempt from road tax, and they have fewer moving parts so are easier and cheaper to service. All in all, you can expect to spend around £77 per month to tax, insure and service a classic Golf. This figure drops to £58 to tax, insure and service an e-Golf.
Meanwhile your PV installation requires almost zero maintenance, so you will not pay to service your PV. As long as they’re kept clean, solar panels don’t require servicing, and can effectively be left untouched to generate clean, renewable energy for years and years to come.
We’ve pulled this data together assuming 10,000 miles per year. These figures will vary depending on the mileage you do, and whether your EV is at home to charge during the day.
|VW e-Golf and a 5KW PV system||VW Golf|
|Total upfront cost (if you decide to pay upfront)||£35,300 (£27,900 for the car, £6000 for the PV and £1400 for the home charger)||£26,500|
|Loan deposit for financing||£9,750||£7,950|
|Monthly loan payment||£520||£444|
|Loan period||48 months||48 months|
|CO2 emissions p/a||0.6 tonnes||2.87 tonnes|
|Cost per mile||0.86p||10.87p|
|Monthly electricity/fuel costs||£14||£145|
|Tax, insurance and servicing||£58||£77|
|Solar Running Cost||£12||£0|
|Total monthly costs||£604||£666|
|Annual cost (year 1)||£17,002||£15,938|
|Annual cost (years 2 - 4)||£7,252||£7,988|
As you can see from the data, the EV and PV does add up to a considerable cost saving. Add to this the fact that you’re contributing less to CO2 emissions, generating your own electricity, and not making any sacrifices in terms of the utility and quality of your car.
We estimate a total saving after 4 years of £1,144. You’ll pay back the increased initial purchase cost of the EV and PV very quickly - in around 1.4 years. We estimate a total saving after 10 years of £10,576. A very attractive proposition indeed.
All in all, electric cars and solar panel installations are no longer a niche reserved to those who want to reduce their carbon footprint at any cost. They’re now a viable option for a variety of different consumers. Families can take advantage of cleantech and buy an electric car to serve as their everyday wheels.
If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint and buying an electric car, check to see how much you could save by using our calculator.
Why get an EV and PV?
You’re unlikely to generate all the energy you need from your PV, but having solar installed will go a long way towards significantly reducing your reliance on the grid, and your carbon emissions as a household.
If you generate surplus electricity (your solar panels are producing more than your home is consuming) you can sell this back to the grid. The government’s Smart Export Guarantee stipulates that the energy suppliers must pay you for every kWh you export back to the grid. It's not as generous as its predessessor, the Feed-in Tariff, but combined with all the charging you'll get for free it makes solar a great option again.
If you have a 4KW system installed, for example, you could very easily save up to £300 per year, considering savings on energy bills and smart export guarantee payments.
This has significant benefits when coupled with an EV, even if you are away from home most days. For example, you could have a battery installed in your home that would charge up using the energy from your solar panels during the day. Overnight, you could use the energy in the battery to charge your car, meaning that the cost to charge your electric car is marginal.
This may seem a lot to take in, but when you consider that you’re looking at potentially several thousand pounds a year to fuel an ICE (the way we are starting to refer to any car with an internal combustion engine), it becomes a very attractive proposition, not only to those who want to reduce their carbon footprint but also to those who want to save money as well.
Although solar panels are generally warrantied for 25 years, they are likely to generate electricity efficiently for much, much longer than that. As a result, even after your EV expires, you’ll still have your own, clean, green source of electricity for years and years to come.
See how much you could save using our free EV and clean energy tool!