PETROL and diesel cars are on course to be driven off the road as the Government tries to push us all into electric vehicles.
Ministers plan to ban fossil fuel cars from 2040 and growing numbers of motorists are buying electric and hybrid vehicles, attracted by tax savings, grants and cheaper fuel.
Research from car buying website CarWow.co.uk shows one in six drivers is looking to purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle in the next two years but can we afford to turn onto the electric car revolution?
At present new electric cars are more expensive to buy, but the price gap is closing as battery technology becomes cheaper.
The Renault Zoe is one of the cheapest electrics, with entry-level models costing £18,745. Base models of the Nissan Leaf, the most popular electric car, cost from £26,180. The BMW i3 is slightly more starting at £26,970, while the VW e-Golf costs £32,190 and the upmarket Tesla Model S costs from £71,435, according to figures from CarWow.
By contrast, an entry level petrol-fuelled VW Golf starts from £17,765, a Ford Focus from £19,415 and a Ford Mondeo from £22,475. Mat Watson, motoring expert at CarWow, explains that electric car buyers can plug the gap by claiming a Government-funded benefit worth up to £4,500: “The plug-in grant for low-emission vehicles can reduce the cost of buying an electric or hybrid car, although it only applies to new vehicles under £60,000.”
Electric cars have notably cheaper running costs than petrol and diesel, Watson says: “Charging an electric car at home costs about £3, which gives you an average range of about 150 miles.
"That is £12 less than you would pay with the average diesel car and offsets the higher purchase cost significantly.”
You can charge up at home using a standard three-pin plug but that will take up to eight hours. You can speed this up dramatically by installing a home EV fast-charging pod, but allow for a one-off cost ranging from £300 to £1,000.
Watson says your electric car maintenance costs should be lower, as they use no oil and have far fewer moving engine parts. You may also save on road tax, with electric cars costing less than £40,000 now the only vehicles that are exempt.
Watson says a concern is that electric car resale values are typically lower, as nobody knows how long today’s batteries will last: “Used car buyers can pick up a three-year-old electric car for a lot less than a petrol or diesel equivalent.”
Your electric car also needs to be insured and the bad news is that it can cost up to 50 per cent more than a petrol or diesel. Research from CompareTheMarket.com shows that the average car insurance premium is now £740, but that rises to £1,070 for electric vehicles.
It also found that almost 40 per cent of insurance requests are for the popular Nissan Leaf, followed by the Renault Zoe and Tesla Model S, with around 15 per cent each. Site director Simon McCulloch, says that there are a growing number of incentives to go electric, such as the plug-in grant and zero road tax: “However, the cost of insurance could swing the balance back in favour of a petrol or diesel model.”
Motorists still need convincing, with one in five saying improvements need to be made to the technology before they would consider purchasing, according to research from Close Brothers Motor Finance.
Chief executive James Broadhead says until consumer perceptions change, electric cars are unlikely to become mainstream: “To the delight of all the Jeremy Clarkson fans, it is likely to be a long time before UK consumers fully adopt electric car technology.”
Find out more at: Gov.uk/plugin-car-van-grants/what-youll-get