Have electric cars finally come of age?

Thursday 4th June 2020

With the last full year of registrations showing an increase of 144%, the growth of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) seems unstoppable. The forecasts are equally positive, with 1 million electric vehicles expected by 2025 and up to 11 million by 2040.

With figures like these it becomes clear that the debate has moved on from ‘why’ to ‘why not’ and from ‘if’ to ‘when’. And, with laws already passed to end the UK’s net contribution to global warming by 2050, we seem to be heading towards a tipping point where electric vehicles are accepted as the norm for individual drivers and businesses. Exactly how long we’ll need to wait for them to also be the preferred option remains to be seen.

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking in more detail at the economic, environmental, and practical case for making the switch. In the meantime, let’s start with a brief overview of the key issues.

Financially Speaking

Running costs may be low, and tax incentives welcome, but do electric vehicles make financial sense for everyone?

Let’s start with the most obvious. When it comes to the amount of ‘fuel’ needed for each mile driven, electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel – 70% cheaper in fact, at just 4p per mile.

Having said this, cost of fuel is just one part of the equation. Deciding whether you are better off with an electric vehicle requires a clear understanding of the relative purchasing or rental costs, depreciation, servicing, maintenance, personal or business taxes and likely insurance premiums. There are even some publicly funded grants to throw into the mix (for now).

It all sounds rather complicated and in fairness it can take a bit of time to get all the information together, especially when comparing several different models and driving scenarios. In doing so, it’s also important to think about how long the incentives currently on offer will stay in place.

In short, understanding the financial case for electric vehicles involves more than a straightforward comparison of headline rates and tax implications. So, is the extra effort worth it? To help you decide, our exploration of the key financial implications will tell you everything you need to know.

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Practically Speaking

Money isn’t everything - especially if you can’t get to where you want to go (and back again) without any unnecessary delays.

The fear of getting stranded, or ‘range anxiety’ as it is often called, has been a major sticking point. Even models which were considered game changers in their time, such as the Nissan Leaf, started life with a range of around 100 miles.

This might sound reasonable enough for personal drivers dwelling in cities, and it’s certainly way beyond the average journey length of less than 10 miles, but the idea of not being able to travel further, of being unable to find a charging point en route, or waiting patiently for battery power to be replenished, held back mass adoption of electric vehicles for years.

In the case of fleet operating companies and essential business drivers, the issue is further compounded by significantly higher mileages and the amount of downtime incurred when vehicles need recharging during the working day or night.

Nearly a decade later and it’s fair to say that the picture has changed significantly. Advancements in battery technology and energy efficiency have led to a marked improvement in real world ranges and charging speeds. The nationwide infrastructure has improved and there’s also a lot more choice, with around 30 pure electric cars and just over 20 LCVs currently on the market and plenty more on the way.

But is it enough? We’ll look at what you can expect if making the switch now and explore how this is likely to evolve over the next few years in the second of our series on the real-world viability of electric vehicles.

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Environmentally Speaking

Are electric vehicles really as green as they appear, or is there more to it than zero emissions?

Zero emission driving means just that. No matter how many miles you drive, no waste products are emitted which could cause harm to the environment. So far so good, but is that really all there is to it?

You could argue that the reduction of carbon emissions is so significant that it doesn’t really warrant looking any further. On the other hand, electric vehicles and batteries still need to be manufactured and disposed of at the end of their life. Electricity may be greener when used to power a vehicle, but it still needs to be generated before it can act as a fuel source, resulting in a carbon footprint of its own.

It would hardly require a spoiler alert to say that all things considered, electric vehicles are still better for the environment than their petrol or diesel counterparts but, to help you make an informed choice, the third in our series of articles will provide a rounded picture of the green case for going all-electric.

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When will it be right for you?

Drivers and businesses will have their own set of criteria, but ‘if’ is now ‘when’ for most of us

Gordon Brown had his five tests before joining the Euro – which were never met. Boris Johnston has used six tests to decide on how to ease the current lockdown. In a similar vein, the case for electric vehicles revolves around three key tests:

If you would like to talk to one of our EV experts about the financial, practical or environmental case for electric vehicles, just get in touch or read more here. 

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