Is Charging an Electric Car Cheaper than Refueling Petrol?

18 October, 2022

In this post, we’ll be answering the question that most potential EV drivers may ask when considering the swap from a petrol, diesel, or hybrid car to an all-new EV: Is it cheaper to charge an electric car compared to filling up petrol?


Is EV charging cheaper than fuel?

Before we get into comparing the cost of charging an EV and filling up petrol car, you should know that there are various factors that affect the price of electricity and gas.


Refueling Petrol or Charging Electric Vehicle

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)


What is the cost for filling up petrol or diesel?

When it comes to the price of fuel, there are four elements that influence how much you will pay for it at the pump. The four considerations include: The cost of crude oil itself is the primary factor in determining the price of fuel. Taxes, distribution, and refining charges together account for around 45 percent of total fuel expenditures.


Prices of the pump go up and down in response to shifts in the value of crude oil, which is a common occurrence generally because diesel fuel is a major transportation fuel, the demand for the fuel generally follows economic trends. You can check the average price in Singapore and in other countries here. Now that we understand the factors affecting the price of the fuel, then what other factors will influence what you may pay for the fuel?


Type of Engine

When it comes to calculating how much money a vehicle will spend on gasoline, the type of engine it has is one of the most important factors. There are three major types of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) in use today:


Petrol Engines: Majority of passenger vehicles are equipped with petrol engines. In summary, these vehicles produce the highest CO2 emissions, consume the most gasoline per kilometer, and cost the most to run, but because petrol engines produce fewer pollutants than diesel, they are frequently less expensive than diesel.


Diesel Engines: Diesel engines, which are similar to petrol engines except that they run on a fuel that is more energy dense, use 10 – 20 percent less fuel than their gasoline counterparts. The average price of a litre of diesel fuel is currently SGD 2.74 and petrol at SGD 2.71 per litre. Diesel emits more pollutants than Petrol does, and therefore can be subject to higher taxes.


Hybrid Engines: This engine is rather special as it powered by an ICE and an electric motor. Because the battery complements the gasoline driving to help maximize fuel efficiency, hybrid vehicles have even lower fuel consumption than conventional vehicles. Simply said, they are more cost-effective than petrol or diesel because they require fewer stops to be refilled.


Size of Vehicle

Another factor to take into consideration is the size of the vehicle. To move a heavier vehicle, more power is required. Because of the greater rolling resistance associated with heavier vehicles, fuel consumption rises. That to be said, lighter vehicles tend to be better for the environment and to be more cost-efficient to run. However, only Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles are seriously impacted by weight, as hybrids and electric vehicles may recover some of the energy wasted.


Fuel economy per vehicle

Fuel economy is most often measured by the distance a vehicle can travel on a given volume of fuel. In Singapore, we measure fuel economy using Kilometres per litre (km/L).


When calculating how much it costs to fill up a car with fuel, this is an essential number to know. What qualifies as fuel efficient? Anything that is listed as less than 5 – 8 litres per 100km is pretty good, between 8 to 12 litres would be average, and more than 12 litres is considered low fuel efficiency.


The current petrol rate in Singapore is at $2.71 for Grade 92. So, if you are looking to fully filled up a Toyota Prius Plus with 45L fuel tank capacity, you’ll pay around $121.95. Let’s take 6 litres per 100km for average cars and estimate driving 1,500km a month, then you’ll need around 250L to fuel it properly. At $2.71 per litre, that will cost you $677.50 a month.


Electric Charging cheaper than refueling gas?

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)


How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

To calculate the cost of charging EV is more complicated. While the cost varies surprisingly depending on where you charge, the price of electricity, at what time you charge, and the efficiency of the vehicle. The capacity of an electric car’s battery is expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh), which is a measure of the energy storage available in the cells. There are three different EV charging levels which all comes at a different cost.


Level 1 Charging: With a Level 1 charger, you just plug it into a regular 120-volt wall outlet at home. Level 1 charges are mostly installed in home garages and driveways. A Level 1 charger is extremely slow at a charge rate of 3 to 8 KM per hour. Most people use Level 1 chargers for an overnight charge.


Level 2 Charging: Level 2 charging means that you charge your EV at a station that is attached to a wall, pole, or stands on the ground. Given their price point and charging speed, Level 2 chargers are commonly found at some residential and mostly commercial locations.


Depending on the power output of the charging station and the type of vehicle, a Level 2 charging station can charge a car anywhere from 5 to 15 times faster than a regular plug. Find EV charging stations at LHN sites in Singapore. 


Level 2 charges can charge in many ways, and it is more than enough for most EV. A 7.4 kW charger gives about 40.2 km of range after an hour of charging, an 11 kW charger gives about 59.5 km of range, and 22 kW charger gives about 120.7 km of range. These calculations are estimates based on the average battery use of 18kWh per 99.7 km.


Level 3 Charging: Level 3 charging, which is also called “DC fast charging,” uses direct current (DC) instead of alternating current (AC) like Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, so it can charge quickly. Do note that not every Electric Vehicles can use Level 3 chargers to charge their vehicles. Level 3 charging takes between 15 to 45 minutes to charge most electric cars up to 80 percent.


Energy Prices and EV Charging

Now, let’s do a rough estimate of how much it costs to charge with LHN Energy Resources. Multiply the size of the car’s battery by how much LHN’s charges per kWh. As of time of writing this article, we are charging a kWh at $0.52. So, if you want to fully charge a 62 kWh battery Nissan Leaf, it will cost you about $32.24. If you want to fully charge a Tesla Model X with its larger, 96 kWh battery, it will cost closer to $49.92. This calculation is just an example because it does not take into account the battery percentage before charging or the general condition of the battery.

Fuel economy for electric vehicles

Number of kilometres travelled per kilowatt-hour is the standard measure of “fuel efficiency” for electric vehicles (kWh). As an average small electric vehicle can travel 6.4 km per kWh, if you typically drive 1600 km a month, then you’ll need at least 250 kWh to fully charge your vehicle. It will cost you $130 a month at the current rate of $0.52 per kWh.



After factoring in all the possible outcomes, it may be useful to examine the typical annual expenditure on gasoline for each car. Based on BudgetDirect report, the average Singapore car is driven 17,500km annually with the cost of current fuel rate of $2.71, it will cost you about $7,905 annually.

17,500km / 6 (average L/km) x $2.71


To calculate for EV, we will simply take kilometres and divide with average small electric vehicle travel kilometres which is 6.4km then multiple with the cost of current electricity rate of $0.52 per kWh, and it will cost you about $1,422 annually.

17,500km / 6.4 (average kWh) x $0.52


Through the above calculation, we can see the huge difference in cost for charging EV and filling up petrol. The cost of Petrol is about 450% more expensive than the cost of electric in a year. Electricity is WAY CHEAPER than petrol or diesel vehicle!

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