The government has announced plans to suspend the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2030. Should you get a jump on the ban by purchasing an electric vehicle now?
Insurer Direct Line has revealed that, as of the summer of 2020, EVs are now cheaper to buy and run than petrol cars. But cost isn’t the only consideration: you also need to consider if you have somewhere to install a home charging station and how far you regularly drive.
Read on to see if an electric vehicle is right for you.
Although they’ve come down in price recently, EVs are still more expensive to purchase than fossil fuel vehicles. Direct Line found that the average price of an electric vehicle is nearly £28,000, while petrol cars come in at just under £23,000 on average.
We don’t all need a Tesla Model 3 (RRP: £42,500). There are accessible EVs – such as the Skoda Citigo e IV hatchback and the MINI Electric hatchback – but they’re still several thousand pounds more expensive than the petrol trims of the same cars. But with the government’s grants for certain low-emission vehicles, you can take up to £3,000 off the price of an EV.
Expect the purchase prices of EVs to drop further in the coming years as the technology advances.
When assessing the cost of a car, you have to consider fuel costs, maintenance expenses, taxes and insurance premiums as well as the ticket price.
When you compare your electricity bill to receipts from the petrol station, you’ll find that EVs are cheaper to “refuel” than cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) – 58% cheaper, according to Direct Line. Additionally, some energy suppliers offer specialised electricity tariffs, which can give you access to cheaper electricity rates overnight, and credit your account for the equivalent of thousands of driving miles.
And although they might baffle the guys at your local garage, electric vehicles actually require less maintenance than ICE vehicles, further reducing their running costs.
Taxes and levies for EVs are also lower. Because road tax is based on carbon dioxide emissions, it falls to zero for pure EVs. EVs are also exempt from the congestion charge in force in central London. If you’re driving an EV for business, the tax benefits are even greater. With electric vehicles, you can deduct the full cost of the vehicle from your pre-tax profits. That’s amounts to tax relief of £7,600 on an EV costing £40,000.
However, EVs are more expensive to insure, with annual premiums about a quarter higher than for petrol vehicles. This is due to higher manufacturing costs and more complex repairs, particularly of their intricate onboard computers. But expect these costs to fall in the future.
It’s more cost-effective and convenient to charge your vehicle at home. That’s why around 80% of EV charging is done at home.
The government now requires that all new build homes with dedicated car parking space have electric charge points. If you don’t live in one of these properties, you can get £350 from the government through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme to partly fund the cost of installing a charging station at home. However, you’ll need a garage, driveway or other off-street parking to have a charging station installed, which complicates the ownership of EVs for city-centre and flat dwellers.
Relying on public charging stations will be more expensive and inconvenient. However, you might find that your workplace provides charging points, letting you refuel while your car sits in the car park. But it’s important to consider where you’ll charge an EV – and how much it’ll cost – before you purchase one.
“Range anxiety” – or the fear of running out of charge far from a charging station -has long been a barrier to the adoption of EVs. But it’s overhyped, particularly since more and more models with 200-mile ranges have been rolled off assembly lines. Today, nearly all EVs on the market can drive more than 100 miles before their battery goes flat. Consider that the average UK commute is just 20 miles roundtrip, comfortably within the range of all EVs on the market.
Unless you’re regularly making long, cross-country drives, you’ll never have to worry about your EV running out of juice, as long as you’re charging it from your driveway every night.
The other big selling point of EVs – and why we’ll all be driving them in a decade -is their minimal impact on the environment. Provided they’re charged with 100% renewable electricity, EVs produce zero emissions, compared to the 1,867kg of CO2 a petrol model pumps into the atmosphere each year.
However, an EV is only as green as the power that drives it. If you’re using a regular energy tariff at home, with fossil fuels like coal and natural gas making up a large portion of its fuel mix, you should switch to a green alternative to maximise the eco-friendliness of your EV.