Classic Citroën Cheaper to Drive Than an EV in the UK

By Graham H. Wilson
Registrar, GSection Citroën Car Club UK…..

I thought that you may be interested in the following on the energy crisis in the UK. The price for electricity at our home in England is:

  • Pre Ukraine war: 17.00p per kWh
  • At present : 27.62p per kWh
  • From Oct 1st : 52.00p per kWh
  • Jan-April 2023 : ? per kWh – no provisional figures available
  • April 2023 : 95.00p per kWh expected
  • 117.50p per kWh possible

The conversion rate at the time of writing is: 100p [£1] = 1.52 CAD and 1.15 US Dollars.

We have a 2015 electric BMW i3 – as well as five Citroëns – and it is charged at home on 7.2 kW wall charger.

During the summer, the i3 will do up to 70 miles on its small by modern standards battery and that is if not using much air conditioning. The winter range with heating in use is between 48 and 64 miles. Figures in red are more expensive than our modern Citroën using petrol [gas].

  • At 17.00p per kWh 4.57p per mile – In summer with 70 mile range
  • At 27.62p per kWh 7.42p per mile – In summer with 70 mile range
  • At 52.00p per kWh 13.97p per mile – In summer with 70 mile range
  • At 52.00p per kWh 17.8 p per mile – In winter when heating reduces range to 55 miles on average
  • At 95.00p per kWh 25.51p per mile – In summer with 70 mile range
  • At 95.00p per kWh 32.50p per mile – In winter when heating reduces range to 55 miles on average
  • At 117.50p per kWh 31.56p per mile – In summer with 70 mile range
  • At 117.50p per kWh 40.16p per mile – In winter when heating reduces range to 55 miles on average

The car’s on-board computer says I average 4 miles per kW hour overall and that would mean 23.75p per mile if the cost per kWh is 95p or 29.38p per mile at 117.5p per kWh for electricity.

Our 2015 Citroën C3 Picasso Exclusive 110 manual averages 48.5mpg over a year with over 50 mpg on long runs. E5 97-99 octane petrol [gas] is about £1.98 per litre and dropping in price slowly from just over £2.00 per litre.

The C3 Picasso costs 18.56p per mile today and the cost per mile will fall if petrol prices reduce as anticipated. The car can use 95 octane E10 petrol that is cheaper but I prefer not to use E10 as it has far more ethanol in it.

Our classic cars work out at as follows for fuel costs per mile using 97-99 octane E5 petrol/gas at £1.98 per litre:

1978 GS Pallas C-matic; 1222cc, 60 bhp at 33 mpg = 27.3p per mile
1981 GSA Special, 1129cc, 55bhp at 39 mpg = 23.1p per mile
1985 Visa Special, 652cc, 35bhp, at 49 mpg = 18.4p per mile
1988 BX16 TRS Automatic, 1.6 litre petrol at 32 mpg = 28.1p per mile

I never thought it could be cheaper to drive the C3 Picasso than the BMW i3 on fuel costs. However, there is a joker in the pack: the BMW i3 has a 650cc 36 bhp petrol engine that does not drive the wheels but maintains the state of battery charge if you do not use more than 36 bhp on average. It does about 45-50 mpg and thus it could soon be cheaper than driving on battery power from the household mains.

There is a real home energy cost crisis in the UK and I expect many people will only be able to afford the most essential car journeys soon. Why? We have a (natural) gas powered central heating boiler [furnace] like the majority of homes in the UK. Last year the cost for the mid-October to mid-January quarter was £334. This year we expect it will be £1,254 for the same consumption of natural gas. The cost for the whole winter will be astronomical.

Life as we knew it in 2019 looks a long way away.

UPDATE — Nov. 15, 2022:

Something to think about: I told you about the cost of charging electric cars here and, in the city of Milton Keynes where we live, a “Rapid” charger is now 69p per kWh and an “Ultra rapid” charger is 79p per kWh.   At home the price of electricity now has a cap on it until April next year and I am paying 33p per kWh to charge my electric car.  To put that in perspective, my modern Citroën C3 Picasso [petrol 1.2] was costing 18.56p per mile on fuel when I wrote in early September and fuel prices have dropped a little since then. 

Graham H Wilson

Registrar, GSection Citroën Car Club UK.

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