Choosing a new car is an exciting time, filled with potential opportunities. Now there are even more options in the new and used car markets with the emergence of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs).
- There are a few things to consider when deciding whether an electric car is right for you
- It’s worth thinking about which journeys you will use your electric car for
- Practicalities such as where and when you will charge your car should also be factored in
Thinking of going electric? You’re not alone. Now more than ever, drivers are considering switching to electric vehicles. Interest picked up when the government announced a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars that comes into force in 2035. Recent statistics show the popularity of electric cars has increased, while demand for diesel vehicles has dropped by 22 per cent. The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers show demand for electric and hybrid vehicles was up 20.6 per cent. This includes around 38,000 pure electric cars, which overtook plug-in hybrids for the first time.
After the government announced in 2019 that £1 billion of additional funding would be made available to develop automotive tech, £10 million of funding is available immediately for the first wave of research and development projects to scale up the manufacturing of the latest technology in batteries, motors, electronics and fuel.
Tom Clarke, LV= General Insurance Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy, said “This announcement shows that Boris was serious when he pledged to make the UK the Home of the Electric Vehicle. With EVs bucking the trend in a declining market for car sales, canvassing for proposals to build the UK’s first gigafactory could be a watershed moment in the green revolution of our country. Whilst this £10m investment will undoubtedly provide a shot in the arm for our EV infrastructure, it’s also important to make sure that drivers aren’t hit in the pocket for making the right decision by ensuring incentives are available.”
That's not all though, our cities are changing, too, with York making a bid to become the UK’s first zero-emission city when lockdown lifts, meaning only cyclists, pedestrians and drivers in electric vehicles would be allowed to enter the city.
Whether or not you should buy an electric car will depend on your lifestyle and a number of other factors. Any purchase should fit in with all your commuting and leisure pursuits, whether you’re looking to buy new, used or on finance. Here's a few questions to ask yourself before you commit.
When is an electric car right for me?
The type of driving you’ll be using it for, your lifestyle and where you live can all influence whether or not you should buy an electric car. For instance, if your daily commute is less than 100 miles and you have access to a charging point, an electric car could be an ideal option.
In London you’ll be exempt from the T-Charge, an emissions surcharge applied to polluting vehicles, which could be a significant incentive. Buying an electric car may also benefit you if you’re looking for the flexibility of having a second car in your household. As you know it won’t be taken on big journeys, range anxiety won’t be a factor.
With more manufacturers releasing high-profile electric cars, consumer trust in battery longevity is increasing. For drivers who do still have concerns, the manufacturer should always be able to provide clear information on exactly how far their electric vehicle will go.
Battery ranges of electric cars are generally improving, so longer commutes are possible depending on the model you buy. For more information, check out our guide on how far electric cars can go.
Covering electric car costs
It’s no secret that at the moment electric cars cost more than their petrol and diesel equivalents. If you’re looking to buy new and have saved up in anticipation, this may not be a problem, while the potential of part-exchanging your old vehicle offers another option. You can also take advantage of government grants of up to £3,000 off approved electric vehicles. You can find out more about these in our government grant guide.
Despite the higher starting price, on average drivers save £100 per thousand miles with an electric car. This can make it more affordable in the long run, with fewer engine parts also leading to lower maintenance costs – although if repairs are needed they can cost more due to the specialised nature of the work. You’ll be exempt from vehicle tax as electric vehicle produce zero emissions and you won’t have to pay for an MOT for three years if you’re buying new.If the higher upfront costs of buying new are putting you off, it’s worth bearing in mind that the widening range of new electric cars means many have trickled down to the second-hand market.
Plus, finance options are available to help fit in with your budget, so the increased purchase price may not be as big an obstacle as you might think.
Drivers who have off-street parking at home will find charging a lot easier. At home, you'll be able to recharge in your garage or on the drive and leave it charging overnight. While you’ll have to pay for the cost of installing a charging point, the ongoing electricity costs are cheaper than filling up with petrol or diesel. There are also government grants available for installing home charging points which will help offset some of the initial set-up costs.
If your workplace also has charging points, this makes it even more convenient and cost-effective. You could suggest installing one to your employer as there are grants available for businesses as well.
When may an electric car not be the best option?
The eventual ban on new petrol and diesel cars could make you think now is the best time to go electric no matter what. Despite the improvements, environmental benefits and other advantages of electric cars, they won’t be for everyone just yet.
People who rely on their car for long-distance trips – whether for daily commutes or family outings – may feel constrained by an electric car. Depending on the average number of miles you cover each day the battery range might not stretch far enough – so it’s worth doing your homework first.
Even though an electric car is likely to prove more cost-effective in the long run, your budget may struggle to cover the initial costs. As the availability of electric cars increases in the years to come these costs should come down, both in the new and used car markets.
For some people their living situation may mean it’s simply not feasible to own an electric car. For example, if you live in a rented flat it could be problematic to charge your car at home.
When it’s a rented house with a garage or driveway this may be less of an issue, until it comes to getting a home charging point. A home charging point is faster than using a cable from a three-pin socket and advisable for any electric car driver. If your landlord refuses to install one but allows you to at your own expense, this will work in the short term. However, when you move out you won’t be able to take the charging point with you and are likely to lose the money you spent on its installation.
Is an electric car right for me?
Eco-conscious drivers who mostly cover short distances for work and play are more likely to reap the benefits of an electric car – but you also need nearby charging points to make it work.
Spend some time thinking about how you plan to use your electric car and how you’ll charge it to decide if it’s the best option. If you do decide to go electric, you can enjoy peace of mind from knowing everything is covered with our dedicated electric car insurance. Take a look at some of the unique benefits our cover offers.
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