There are three main inputs into a decision of which electric car to buy:
1) Do you have access to a dedicated parking space at home or work where you can plug the car in – or live/work conveniently close to a rapid charger?
2) What are your driving habits and needs?
3) How much do you have available to spend to both acquire and run the car?
When thinking about switching to an electric car, the first question to consider is how and where you are able to recharge your car.
If you have access to off-street parking and can have a dedicated charge point installed, either at home or at work, you are the most likely candidate to drive a pure electric car. The car’s battery will fill up either overnight whilst you sleep or during the day whilst you work.
You just need to check to see if the “real life” range of the car is suited to your motoring needs.
Check our section here on real life driving range to match your needs with the cars that are available on the market.
Bear in mind that with the growing network of chargers across the UK, including rapid chargers, a pure EV can also be suitable for longer journeys with a bit of planning in advance and a little extra time to stop and recharge.
However, if the range of the current crop of pure electric vehicles is not compatible with your needs, a PHEV might be the perfect solution for you.
You can plug the vehicle in at home or work – or at the thousands of publicly available charge points across the country – and do your daily commuting or running around on electric power only, switching to your conventional engine for the longer journeys.
If, on the other hand, you have no access to a parking space with charging that is dedicated to you, and there are no rapid chargers that you can regularly conveniently rely on, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) may be the car for you.
You can then use one of over 13,000 chargers throughout the country to enable your electric driving and use your petrol/diesel engine when the battery has not been charged. Remember that the battery will also be recharged whilst you drive by “regenerative braking” (capturing energy as your vehicle slows down) which means PHEV cars have great fuel efficiency even when not plugged in (depending on your driving style).
Many UK households are home to two or more cars.
Unless both/all your cars are regularly simultaneously being used for long journeys (of more than 100-120 miles in a single day), switching at least one of the cars to a pure electric car would be convenient for daily use with the conventional car available for longer journeys.
You may find that household members fight over using the electric car because most people find them more enjoyable to drive
Many people are surprised at their own driving needs and overestimate how frequently they drive beyond the range of today’s EV offerings.
The two leading electric cars in the UK now come with over 40kWh of battery energy on board giving a real-life and reliable range of 120 miles, even with the heating on in the winter driving on motorways.
The vast majority of drivers rarely go beyond this distance in a single day and even of you do, you can rapidly charge your vehicle for most journeys.
Finally, there is the question of cost, from acquiring the car to running it.
The variables here are the car itself, electricity (the new fuel for cars), servicing, road tax, congestion charge (where applicable) and parking.
There are plenty of second hand electric vehicles of all types on the market. Many of these have older, smaller batteries than newer models, so you’ll need to check the range of these vehicles to see if they suit your needs, but you can certainly find great deals out there.
Brand new pure electric models are generally not much more than equivalent petrol and diesel vehicles thanks to the government grant of £4,500 off the retail price of the car.
You can also lease most electric cars, pure electric and PHEV, at quite competitive prices.
Savings from fuel will depend on how far you travel – the more miles you drive, the more money you save.
Depending on your specific car and electricity tariff, you can charge for as little as £2 to give you a range of around 100 miles which would cost around £12 to £15 in petrol or diesel in an average car.
However, lots of public charge points offer free electricity, so you can save money when plugging in whilst shopping or at the gym too.
Servicing costs are generally much cheaper than conventional cars too and road tax (VED) on a pure electric car is zero.
If you live in London, the congestion charge is also waived and parking in some areas of the country is free such as Milton Keynes and Westminster in London (where you have to pay for the first 10 minutes but can then park for up to 4 hours).