The electric cars which are the cheapest to run are the ones which take the least electricity.
This is a very simplistic answer which in many ways is true, yet it’s involved. The reason is that first, we need to ask ourselves what are our requirements. If we know the answer to this question, we can work out what is the cheapest electric car to run for us.
Basically, electric cars which are the cheapest to run are the smallest, lightest and slowest. Let’s see why.
A small electric car will have the least wind resistance. Wind resistance needs to be overcome when travelling forward. The faster we go, the more wind resistance there will be. This can only be overcome with energy. Energy costs money. Likewise, the heavier the car is, the more energy it will need to move, maintain movement, and climb hills.
So what are the cheapest to run?
Smallest because the first two problems are directly related to size. The bigger the car, the heavier it will be. As the size increases, we will be demanding more energy from the motor, Not only will the motor size have to increase, but as the motor gets bigger, it will get heavier adding to the all-up weight of the car. The next problem is that by increasing the size of the motor, we will need to increase the size of our battery pack. If we don’t increase it, the car will travel a shorter distance due to the energy from the batteries finishing sooner.
This adds yet another point to consider. As we have increased the size of both the motor and the battery pack, the car may need to be larger to accommodate them. We have now increased the wind resistance again, which in turn means more energy is needed to move the car and maintain a set speed. As we add small luxuries to the car, such as 4 seats instead of two, 4 doors instead of two, and a fifth door at the rear, we have to acknowledge that the extra weight is going to make the performance slower and the car has to be bigger yet again, to provide space for these items.
We came around again to increase the size of the motor and the battery pack to feed the motor. More weight. And so it goes on.
The bottom line to all of this is:
- Cost of the requirements
- cost of charging the batteries as the list of requirements grows
We have not yet considered the need for speed. If speed is a requirement, there is no other means of getting speed other than a large motor. A large motor means a large battery which in turn means extra weight.
For this reason, there is no straight answer to “Which is the cheapest electric car to run”. Everything depends on what you want from an electric car. What you may be prepared to sacrifice for cheap running, another person may not.
Decide what you need
The only way to answer the question is to decide what are your needs, make a list and compare the cars available which meet your needs. You may find that by dropping just a few of your “needs” you can come to a good compromise which will give you a specification of a car with the least cost, acceptable performance, and least battery charging time with the least ongoing cost of regular battery charging. The smaller the battery pack, the faster and cheaper will it be to charge it.