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Should I buy an Electric Car?

Should I buy an Electric Car?

Guest blog by Chloe Davies who specialises in content creation regarding the UK energy market.   Should I buy an electric car?

Can electric cars save you money?

Every year more people decide to switch their conventional petrol car for an electric one.  Soon, we will all be required to make the change.  In 2020, the UK Government announced that from 2030 all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned and only second-hand ones will be available.

There are 3 types of electric cars:  Battery electric vehicles (BEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The way they work is different:

 A hybrid electric vehicle cannot be plugged in but instead it's battery is charged by regenerative braking and from the internal combustion engine.

  • A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle runs on both electricity and petrol or diesel. The car can run on electricity for a limited range, after that it switches to petrol or diesel. 
  • A battery electric vehicle runs fully on electricity. 

Should I buy an electric car or a normal car?

Buying an electric car, especially a new one, is still expensive although prices are falling. The average price is £44,000.  However, prices can vary from £17,000 to over £100,000 depending on the features of the car.  At the same time, the average price of buying a new conventional car in the UK is around £38,000. It is clear that the purchase price of petrol and diesel cars is lower than electric ones.  To promote the switch to electric vehicles, the UK government offers the Plug-in car grant, offering £2,500 off the purchase price if the vehicle is zero emission and costs less than £35,000.

For those of us who cannot afford a new car of any description, the choice and availability of second hand electric cars will increase rapidly in the coming years.

It might be the big upfront cost of electric cars that deters buyers, but the real money saving comes from the long-term use of the car. More specifically, the cost of running the car, is where the big difference comes in action. 

If you drive an electric car in the UK, you will not pay road taxes, which saves you around £155 a year and your garage servicing charges should be less.  Also, you will save on fuel bills. The average British driver drives 7,600 miles and spends around £1,200 on fuel.  If you charge your car at home, this may cost only £340 annually.

Charging your electric car

The main thing that prevents people from buying an electric car is the fear of not being able to charge whenever they need and that they might end up stuck in the middle of nowhere.  However, the risk of this happening is rapidly diminishing as electric  car charge points are rapidly spreading all across the UK. 

There are around 42,000 charge points across England in over 15,500 locations. Average electricity prices in the UK is 17p per kWh. Therefore, to charge a 60kWh electric car, will cost £9 to £10 for 200 miles. But you may be able to access smart tariffs at home at much lower rates.  It is also possible to find free stations around supermarkets, shopping centres, hotels and car parks. However, there could be a limit on the time for charging, or you might need to be a customer in the supermarket, for instance.

Depending on the charging station and the car, you can fully charge your car in a few hours or less. For a typical electric car with 60kWh battery, it takes around 7-8 hours to charge with a 7kW charging point. If you use a rapid charger with 50kW, you can add up to 100 miles in just 35 minutes.

EV charging station at home

Charging your EV at home can be a convenient solution. There are green energy suppliers that offer good tariffs for customers that own electric cars.  First, you need to install a charging station at your home. If you are planning to do so, you can benefit from the government's Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme which is a 75% contribution to the price of installation up to £350 (separate scheme available in Scotland).

If you plan to charge your car at home, it is best to choose a specific EV energy tariff. Before choosing your energy supplier you should consider how many times a month you are charging your car, not how long it takes for your car to be fully-charged.  Also, check out which energy suppliers offer a night tariff.  If you tend to charge your car at night to have it ready for the work day, this could save you additional costs. 

Charging stations on highways

You can find charging stations on highways, and the good thing about them is that most of them should be either the fast or the super fast charging points. For instance, the green energy provider Ecotricity has installed rapid charging in 96% of motorway service stations.

Is it possible to do long distance journeys with an electric vehicle?

Most EV can run up to 150-200 miles before needing to be charged. However, depending on the model, this can go to more than 300 miles. Even if your car has a lower range, using the charging stations on the highways, you should not have any problems.

With the current number of over 40,000 charging stations, ranging from normal to fast-charging, drivers can rely on their EV for long distances. To further promote the change to EV in the coming years, the government is increasing the number of charging stations every year.

So is getting an EV a good deal?

Switching to a new car, no matter the type, is always an expensive move.  However, going for an electric car can not only have benefits for the environment but also for your pocket.  If you plan to use your car for a few years, you could definitely see the cost-effectiveness of investing in an EV. Cars are a matter of personal preference, but in a few years Brits will have to embrace the zero emission life.

Carbon Choices: 

If you have enjoyed this blog, you might enjoy my book, Carbon Choices on the common sense solutions to our climate and nature crises.