Changing your car? Should you go electric?
If the time has come to change your car, there is a lot to think about. As well as all the usual considerations about cost, size, performance, features, styles and colours there is now another big decision to make.
Should you go electric?
In this article we look at the timescale for electric cars in the UK, the advantages/disadvantages of buying an electric car now, and whether a hybrid car could be a good choice.
What is happening in the UK with electric cars?
The UK has a target of 2030 for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Sales of new hybrid cars will be banned from 2035. These targets are part of the UK’s goal for achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Despite some recent concerns from the Public Accounts Committee, the government says it is on track to meet these targets. It is investing £2.8 billion to support the transition to electric cars. £1.3 billion is to be spent over the next four years to provide more charging points on motorways, other major roads and streets, businesses and homes.
But currently, even though sales of electric cars are rapidly increasing, they still represent only around 11% of new car registrations. So should you buy an electric car now, or wait a bit longer?
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages of buying an electric car now
- Buying an electric car now means that you are ahead of the game. It is only 9 years until petrol and diesel cars are banned. So, depending on how long you intend to keep your car, it could make sense to invest in an electric car now rather than being forced to make the switch nearer the time.
- Electric cars are cheaper to run so you could save money on your travelling expenses. There are no fuel costs to pay. The cost of charging an electric car overnight is around £3-£4. This can provide between 120-250 miles of driving, depending on the size of your battery.
- You do not have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) on an electric car if it costs less than £40,000, so this is another way to save money.
- Electric cars can also be cheaper to service, because generally there are fewer mechanical parts to go wrong. There are some exceptions to this – see below.
- Electric cars can be easier to drive because they don’t have a clutch. This also means that they can be operated by drivers who only possess an automatic-only licence.
The disadvantages of buying an electric car now
- Electric cars are generally more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents. There are only around 13 electric car models on sale in the UK at the moment that cost less than £30,000. This is expected to change as more new models are rolled out.
- Electric cars can also be more expensive to insure, although this is gradually changing. But because of their high value, and also unknown factors about their longer term reliability or cost of repairs, insurance premiums have so far been higher than for the petrol/diesel equivalents.
- Electric cars can wear out brakes quickly, and some have bespoke tyres that can be expensive to replace. So bear these potential costs in mind when buying an electric car.
- Electric cars are dependent on charging points. So a key consideration is whether you would have the ability to charge your car regularly either at home or your place of work, as public charging points can be expensive. There is a £350 government grant available towards the cost of installing a charger at your home, if you have somewhere suitable to site it..
- For a longer journey, you need to plan ahead to ensure that you top up your battery throughout the journey. Most electric cars have a full charge range somewhere in between 120-250 miles. The key thing is to top up when available, and plan accordingly.
What about a hybrid car?
One other option to consider at this stage is a hybrid car. A hybrid car uses both fuel and an electric battery.
In theory, they combine the best of both worlds between electric cars and fuel cars, and are a first step on your journey towards a full electric car. There are many hybrid versions of popular family cars, with lower emissions and better fuel economy than the full-fueled versions.
There are three types of hybrid car.
- Full hybrid: uses both the fuel engine and electric motor to drive the car, usually at the same time. The fuel engine charges the batteries as the car is driven. A full hybrid car can hold small amounts of electric charge which can provide extra power to the engine, and can also enable the car to run in electric-only mode for short distances.
- Mild hybrid: uses both the fuel engine and electric motor to drive the car. But unlike the full hybrid, the two power sources cannot operate independently. In a mild hybrid, the purpose of the electric motor is simply to increase the efficiency of the fuel engine.
- Plug-in hybrid: similar to a full hybrid, but can also be plugged in to charge its batteries. The batteries are larger than a full hybrid so, once fully charged, it can operate in electric-only mode over a much larger range than a full hybrid.
As you can see from the above, there are both advantages and disadvantages to buying an electric car now, and also the hybrid option to consider. Lots to think about, but we hope that this article helps you to make an informed decision and find the car that is best for you.
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