Thinking of buying an electric car? Read this
Boris has signed the death warrant on petrol and diesel cars, but are we ready for the green revolution? Muddy examines how practical electric cars really are…
The green revolution is nigh! The death warrant has been signed on new petrol and diesel cars. In just nine years production will grind to halt on new cars and vans wholly powered by petrol and diesel, with many hybrids swiftly bringing up the rear year five years later in 2035. Yikes!
This is all fine and dandy if you pootle around town where charging points are more accessible, but what about the millions living in rural areas who can’t get a decent phone reception and speedy wifi, let alone a network electric charging points? Will long journeys to visit the in laws or head off on a staycation require military planning and the patience of a saint as you repeatedly stop for an hour here and there to squeeze more juice into your battery to get to your destination? Urgh.
Woefully unqualified to answer these important questions, we spoke to Torquil Rowley and Helen Moser of car-buying concierge business Fleet Elite. It’s their business to know what is going on and to make it work for you. Basically they do all the heavy lifting. From helping you shortlist models, organising test drives, getting you the best deals and navigating government announcements. Before you buy an electric car, read this.
Diesels are dead, do I have to buy an electric?
It is the future. Diesel, petrol cars and hybrids will be around for some time. The ban of the sale of sole combustion engines is now from 2030, after then electric cars will be a major power source for vehicles of the future.
But are electric cars any good?
Principally and significantly zero exhaust emissions which is a huge benefit to the environment, especially urban air quality. Poor air quality in our major cities is having a significant impact on people’s health causing premature deaths.
The elephant in the room is that the manufacturing of electric vehicles is not entirely hitting the eco brief, and battery recycling is poor. But it is considered that positives outweigh the negatives.
Will I have to sell a kidney to pay for it?
The initial cost is higher even with the £3,000 government grant. For example the VW UP! Petrol version is £13,105, the electric is £20,555 – after the £3,000 government grant. If financed on personal contract hire (PCH) the cost is spread and is more palatable. You will recoup the initial extra cost as the cost of electrical charge is lower than petrol or diesel cars.
So what’s in it for me? Blue Peter badge, tea with David Attenborough?
If the price tag is under £50k, you get a £3,000 government grant plus a £350 grant to install a home charging wall box, which typically costs £879 for a 7kw charger. Even though the initial cost is higher, you will make a saving. Take the BMW i3 and a BMW 318d SE – the saving on fuel, tax, insurance and maintenance over three years on PCH will be about £1,500.
Let’s get real, is an electric practical?
It’s all about mileage and lifestyle. If your mileage is over 20k a year, it’s not really practical. You need to be very organised and plan journeys accurately around departure and arrival timings and accessibility to charging points on your route. You’ll also need to check that charging points are free as these can be booked up on busy days like bank holidays. You will need a charging point at home and must remember to plug your car in.
Will I need to choose between putting the lights or charging the car?
No. Typical electricity costs for a car doing 10k miles a year is £358. Charging points costs are on the increase and, and just like petrol motorway services bump up the price for an electric charge. In some cases it has been the same cost per 100-mile as a petrol car!
How far can I drive before I fizzle out of power?
Range is getting much better. A Tesla Model 3 can do 260 miles. The Long-Range model can get you 360 miles. The others are catching up, but still nowhere near what you get from a traditional car. The Nissan Leaf 40kw has a range of 168 miles, the Nissan Qashqai 1.3 petrol will give you 501 miles on one tank. For most day to day use, home and office charging should fine, but longer journeys need to be planned and you can travel aboard. Many motorway service stations have rapid charging and these can give an 80 percent charge in 20-30 mins. There’s an App called PLUGSURFING, which claims to have 110,000 charging points across Europe.
What if I run out of juice in the middle of nowhere?
You’re going to have to call the breakdown truck. It will need to be loaded onto a flatbed pick-up and this can be very expensive. There are very few charging points in rural areas but only six councils in England have installed public charging areas. This is improving and the government has committed £1.6bn to improve it, but industry experts believe the actual cost could be as much as £100bn (the current cost for HS2).
Aside from home and office, the nearest rapid chargers for most rural residents is at motorway services. If you type in “EV charging stations” into Google Maps you can see your nearest. Or download the Zap Map app, which is free and claims to have 20,000 locations mapped. You’ll need to check it is a compatible with your type vehicle.
EVs look like dinky toys, where will the kids, dogs and shopping go?
There are a few electric family cars, but they are expensive. Most are city run-a-arounds like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe. The Tesla is the market leader for larger cars, the Model 3 starts at £44k and qualifies for the £3k government grant. The Model S starts at £75k. The Audi e-Tron, which is a large SUV, is £61k. Any vehicle over £50k does not receive the £3k grant. There are more coming that will be mid-size family SUVs like the Volvo XC40 – £60k, the BMW iX3 – £62k, the Polestar – £47k and the Mazda MX30 – £25k. More will follow.
Are hybrid vehicles the more sensible option?
For many it is. Firstly, there’s no range anxiety because you can run it on just fuel. They are more environmentally friendly and tend to produce less C02 as long as a lot of journeys are not just motorway. For now, until there’s more EV product to choose from and a better charging network, hybrid for many is the better option.
Argh! It’s so confusing. What car should I buy?
It is a minefield and very complicated, but Fleet Elite can help. We do a careful analysis of your driving requirements to assess your needs and even if electric is practical. We can advise on all the other options that you may have and negotiate the best discounts, finance rates and maintenance packages on your behalf. There’s no need to have the daunting experience of visiting a dealership, who have the single objective of selling you their products. We do all the hard work for you and minimise any potential risk. We’re not affiliated to any manufacturer or lenders, operating completely independently and only have your interests at heart. We take care of everything from enquiry, to order, to delivery and throughout the contract period. We are there at the end too and will manage the return of the vehicle, all end of term contract requirements and a smooth transition into your next vehicle. A bespoke service for every client.
So which electric cars are best in show right now?
Value for money? It has to be the Renault Zoe. You can get one for around £240 a month. Need something a bit bigger? The mid-size Hyundai Kona won Which? Magazine‘s Product of the Year this year, not just car of the year but product of the year. For more sporty EVs the all-new Polestar, which is actually made by Volvo, lightening quick, a stylish Scandi interior with ‘vegan’ upholstery. For SUVs the most popular is the Audi e-Tron, similar in size to an Audi Q7 and in the same category there is the Mercedes EQ SUV.