The benefit of driving fully electric cars in cities will be immediate: reduced both noise and air pollution. But how convenient is it at the moment for a person to acquire an electric car? How expensive are they and how long can a person drive without having to charge?

Short summary

Although buying electric cars is usually more expensive than petrol ones, you can save a lot of money from maintenance costs, insurance fees, and from stop purchasing petrol.

For those that don´t have a garage to charge their cars owning an electric car is not impossible (as one can use city parking lots with charging stations), but it is not very convenient.

If you have a garage and you usually drive up to 100 km per day driving an electric car is very convenient, because every time you start your car it is fully (or almost fully) charged from the overnight charging.

Financial Costs

Costs of an electric car

Even with taxes incentives buying a new electric car is usually more expensive than buying a new petrol car.

To get a cheaper option one can also check for used electric cars: if the battery is only 2 years old/38.000 km, it still has 6 years/120.000 km of warranty, which is fairly good.

In Europe, a new Renault Zoe (40 kWh battery range) costs €30.000. In a quick search, I found a 2-year-old Renault Zoe costing only €13.000.

Circulations fees and insurance costs

Annual taxes for circulation of vehicles as well as insurance costs are usually lower for ecological cars such as electric cars compared to petrol cars.

Maintenance Costs

Electric vehicles typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because:

• The battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance

• There are fewer fluids, such as engine oil, that require regular maintenance

• Brake wear is significantly reduced due to regenerative braking

• There are far fewer moving parts relative to a conventional gasoline engine.

Charging costs

Moreover, in most countries, a person will save money every month by eliminating the costs of gasoline. How much cheaper is charging an electric car in comparison to fuel up a petrol car, depends on the price of petrol (€/L), the price of energy supplier (€/khW) and how many km you drive per day.

Fortunately, the costs of renewable energies (such as solar and wind) are getting cheaper every year.

Using the average values in Europe and USA one can save around €712 per year (€60/month) and €384 per year (€32/month), respectively.

Disclaimer: The cost value of petrol and electricity differ considerably between countries/states so you should check the values specific to the place you live to calculate your costs

Drive range and charging stations

The average distance that is daily driven in six EU members states ranges from an average of 40 km (UK) to an average of 80 km (Poland) (See Figure 1). USA average is 52 km a day. Such distances can be comfortably covered by battery electric vehicles that are currently already available on the market.

In a Nissan Leaf the slowest option takes 21h to get charged for 270 km (using household sockets). If you buy a “Wallbox” to use at home this time goes down to 7.5h.

People that own electric cars even say charging a car is more convenient than fuelling one because every time you start your car it is fully (or almost fully) charged from the overnight charging. Therefore, you never need to worry about stopping in a city station like you would do when running low on gasoline.

Figure 1. Average daily travel distance (km) by day of the week. Source from this survey.

For journeys longer than 300-400 km, you would have to stop for charging. To help make life easier for electric car drivers, manufacturers generally offer apps or online platforms to manage remote charging.

There are already many apps that show you charging stations throughout Europe and USA which allow you to do road trips with no issues. However, the time you would wait to charge is still much more than one spends when fuelling a car with petrol.

For those that don´t have a garage to charge their cars owning an electric car is not impossible (as one can use city parking lots with charging stations), but it is not very convenient.

Example of Norway

The proof that it is possible and that the “future is here” is the example of Norway. In 2020, 54% of the new cars that were sold in Norway were fully electric cars. If we count hybrids, is 74 per cent! There are more than 16000 charging stations, including 3300 fast chargers, all over the country.

In Norway, there are different sorts of incentives to get people to go greener: purchase subsidies, cheaper parking, tolls and ferry tickets, and access to bus and taxi lanes. Moreover, the government heavily taxed the purchase of polluting petrol and diesel cars.


If we want to reduce 80% of the CO2 emissions by 2050 there is no doubt that stop producing petrol/diesel cars is what we have to do! Many cities in Europe and USA are already investing in public transportation moved by electricity (and investing also in shifting to electricity from renewable sources).

However, for private owners, it only makes sense to have an electric car if they can charge their cars easily (either by having a garage or a city parking close by with available charging stations).

For people that want to buy an electric car but don´t have an easy way to charge their cars, I do suggest them to ask their politicians for constructions of more parking lots with charging stations.

The demand of the market shapes the politicians’ and companies’ motivation, so if people are deciding to buy electric cars instead of petrol cars, there will also be more and more infrastructures being installed.


As electric cars is a complex topic I divided the information into 3 blog posts in order to cover different aspects. If you want to know more about the environmental impact of lithium batteries you can read this previous post, and if you are interested in understanding in what circumstances the environmental benefit of driving an electric car is the highest, we suggest you read this previous blog post.


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Written by: Carolina Freitas (PhD) Linkedin profile