TeslaCredit: Moose - stock.adobe.com

 

For over a decade, the automotive media has been talking up "the electric car revolution" - a world where cars run on electric powertrains, can be re-charged for pennies, and where petrol and diesel consumption is all but eradicated. But until recently, it has been something of a pipe dream.

 

Now, however, UK sales of pure electric (EVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) has surpassed the 10% milestone, bolstered, no doubt, by the impending 2030 ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars.

 

In the UK, the best-selling PHEV is the Mitsubishi Outlander, comfortably ahead of the best-selling pure electric, the Nissan Leaf (the British version of which is built in Sunderland).

 

So is now the time to buy your first EV or PHEV?

 

Here are some reasons why you might consider it...


Charging up is cheaper than filling up

Over the course of its life, an EV will cost considerably less to keep charged up compared to a petrol or diesel vehicle. This is simply because on a per-mile basis, electricity is a lot cheaper than petrol.

 

Electric cars require less maintenance than ICEs

Electric engines are simpler than internal combustion engines (ICEs); fewer moving parts equals less maintenance (and less cost to you).

 

They are better for the environment

Electric vehicles do not pollute the environment with CO2 the way petrols or diesels do. EVs are especially green if the electricity they use is also green - e.g. from wind, solar or hydro. There are some caveats, however: see below. 

 

Charging electric vehicle

 
You'll get a grant of up to £2,500

On Evs with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km, a minimum top speed of 70mph, and a maximum price of £35,000, there is a grant of up to £2,500 available. This may change in the future (for instance, the maximum grant has already been lowered by £500, while the maximum price has been lowered by £15,000).

 

Ideal for short commuter runs

If you only travel a short distance to work every day, an EV could be ideal. For a daily drive of 30-40 miles, you'll probably only need to charge up once a week.


Electric car being driven on motorway through a tunnel

You won't have much choice soon

To put it crudely, the government will eventually outlaw the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Equally, manufacturers will wind down production of ICEs in the coming years. This means you have less than nine years to make the switch.

 

If you switch now you'll get some money for your ICE car

There may come a time when no-body will want to buy a petrol or diesel car any longer. It may therefore be wise to sell yours before second hand prices collapse - although we are a long way off from that at present.

 

MG EV Plugin Hybrid

Credit: pomphotothailand - stock.adobe.com

 

Exciting new EVs on the horizon

Established car makers like Nissan (Leaf) and Renault (Zoe) have built reliable, affordable EVs, while Tesla has dominated the higher-end segment with its Model 3 and Model X, with stiff competition from BMW (i3, 330e). But there's a whole host of exciting new EVs just around the corner. The all-electric Lucid Air will soon be debuting in the US, while Nio's EC6 SUV EV has been making waves stateside too. These models - and others - will eventually reach the UK. The idea is that manufacturers will plough profits from their higher-end models into cheaper production models.

 

Avoid congestion/emission charges

With an EV you won't have to pay the London congestion charge or the ULEZ charge. Other UK cities are adopting similar charges for polluting vehicles, which you'll avoid with a pure EV.

 

EV Chargepoint

 

The downsides:

 

Difficult to find a chargepoint

The UK charging network is still developing, so it's not easy to plan long journeys. Charge points are nowhere near as common as petrol pumps, so you could end up stranded if you run out of "juice".

 

EVs can be expensive

The Tesla Model S 'long range' costs from £73,990 to £138,990, while the mid-range BMW 320D costs around £35,000. One of the cheapest EVs though is the Renault Zoe, at £25,670, with 220 miles of range.

 

Range problems

There could be range issues. With most affordable EVs offering around 200 miles of range, you'll need to make sure you can charge up when on longer trips.

 

It’s worth noting that the severity of these problems is lessening as technology and infrastructure develops.

 

Manufacturing EVs still results in CO2 emissions

Manufacturing an EV still uses a lot of resources, resulting in some emissions. It's worth noting that moving away from the internal combustion engine won’t eradicate oil production; oil is still required for making heating oil, jet fuel, petrochemical feedstocks, waxes, lubricating oils, and asphalt. Crude oil is also often used for making plastics - some of which may find their way into your EV.