We're all told of the big benefits of electric cars, from quieter running to climate-friendly exhaust emissions (or no emissions at all). But what are the day-to-day benefits of actually driving electric vehicles as your family car or company car?

Here are five of the biggest benefits of electric cars for business fleets and domestic use, including some you might find surprising.

Cheaper to Refuel

Petrol prices — including both unleaded and diesel — seem to go up, with only short-lived drops here and there. This was especially true in early 2022, as forecourt prices soared on an almost daily basis.

While electricity costs also climb with inflation and due to wholesale market effects, overall, it can be significantly cheaper to 'refuel' an electric car, compared with topping up your tank on an internal combustion engine (ICE) car at the petrol pump.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a journey of 200 miles in an ICE vehicle will cost about £30, and that was in February 2022 with petrol and diesel prices still climbing rapidly.

In comparison, you can recharge the equivalent range at home using about £10 of electricity, knocking two thirds off your fuel cost. This is based on overnight charging on an off-peak tariff, if you want to maximise your savings as much as possible. 

Zero Vehicle Excise Duty

Vehicle Excise Duty — better known to most of us as Road Tax — includes a nil rate band for vehicles with zero emissions. Alternative fuel cars, including EVs, also pay zero vehicle tax on emissions of up to 50g/km in their first year of registration.

In subsequent years, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) pay £155 vehicle tax compared with the £165 for ICE vehicles. But fully electric vehicles are still nil rated, with no vehicle tax to pay at all.

Normally, vehicles with a list price (the manufacturer's price before any discounts are applied) of over £40,000 are charged an extra £355 tax a year, from the second time the vehicle is taxed, for five years.

Again, zero-emission vehicles are exempt, so if you're looking to buy a new car for over £40,000, you could save significantly on road tax if you drive it for five years or more. 

Avoid Emission Charges

With the exemptions on vehicle tax, it's little surprise that zero-emission electric cars also qualify for exemptions to clean air zones, London's ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) and even some congestion charges.

To incentivise the use of vehicles with clean exhausts, Transport for London offers a 100% discount on the London Congestion Charge. This applies not only to fully electric cars, but also "zero emission capable" vehicles such as plug-in hybrids, range-extended EVs and hydrogen fuel cell cars.

London's ULEZ charges drivers £12.50 per day to drive within the perimeter of the North and South Circular Roads (except on December 25th — Merry Christmas!). Based on their emissions, some relatively new petrol and diesel cars don't have to pay, but EVs are much more likely to be exempt. You can check the eligibility of a vehicle by entering its number plate on the TfL website.

 A similar zone was planned for Greater Manchester, the UK's second-most populated urban area, but was shelved after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now planned to be introduced no later than 2026, highlighting that zero-emission vehicles are not just beneficial for London drivers.

Less to go Wrong

It's not all about cost. While electric vehicles might seem more sophisticated than their ICE counterparts, they actually have far fewer moving parts. With fairly minimal regular maintenance, there's much less to go wrong on an EV.

Electric vehicles over three years old need to pass an MOT, just like petrol and diesel cars. But again, there's a lot less that can cause an EV to fail its MOT, especially in recent years with much stricter rules on emissions from ICEs and visible smoke from diesel exhausts.

The high-voltage wiring on your vehicle is normally not accessible and should not be disturbed during an MOT test. As such, an electric car MOT is mostly just a check of whether the vehicle meets roadworthy standards, such as the condition of the tyres and brakes, bodywork and windows, and systems like the lights and windscreen wipers.

It's also not possible to put the 'wrong fuel' in an electric car. Mix up petrol and diesel, and you could face an expensive repair to your engine. In general, if your EV charging cable will plug into a charging point's connector, your car will likely be able to charge safely.

Free to Use? 

Free EV charging points are still surprisingly commonplace. According to Zap-Map, there are over 5,000 free charging points in the UK, out of about 25,000 locations nationwide. Nearly 1,500 of these are north of the border, thanks to the ChargePlace Scotland network backed by Transport for Scotland.

Greater London ranks outside the top five with less than 400 free charging points, about 5% of its total EV charging infrastructure. There are many more paid on-street charging posts and rapid charging stations to be found around the capital though.

Outside of London, it's a different story. The South East is second only to Scotland for free charging points, with nearly 700 locations. Yorkshire & the Humber has about 500, with the North West very close behind, while the South West just pinches fifth place from London with about 400 free chargers available to EV drivers.

Summing Up

The benefits of electric vehicles are a tale of charging and charging - the costs and expenses you save by switching to a zero-emissions vehicle, and the various advantages of driving a vehicle that is recharged, rather than refuelled.

It's impossible to know what will happen in the future. As more motorists in the UK switch to EVs, incentives are likely to be withdrawn, and over time, the MOT rules for electric vehicles will probably tighten up, especially for older models.

For now though, if you're looking to save on your motoring costs, and the characteristics and capabilities of present-day EVs (e.g. maximum range and recharging time) are a good fit for your needs, then there are plenty of personal benefits to enjoy, on top of the knowledge that you are doing your bit to reduce exhaust emissions and improve air quality.