Is 2021 The Year I Should Buy An Electric Car?
We invited Nick Francis from Car buying marketplace Yes Auto to investigate whether 2021 is the time to buy an electric vehicle. YesAuto is the one stop shop that aims to put the enjoyment back into finding your next car.
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To EV or not EV, that is the question. As 2030 creeps steadily closer - the year a government ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect - more and more of us are considering making the switch to an electric car now. While the figures are still low in comparison to ‘regular’ cars, sales of EVs increased 185% in 2020. The big question is, should you join this growing number of electric car adopters now, or is it too early to make the switch? There’s no simple ‘yes/no’ answer to this question, so read on to find out which camp you sit in.
2030 new petrol and diesel sales ban: what is the government saying?
First of all you need to understand fully the implications of the government’s ban on sales of non-zero emissions cars in 2030. It’s easy to misinterpret it as the absolute end for petrol and diesel cars, but in fact you will still be able to buy petrol and diesel cars which are second-hand. If you buy used cars this means you have much longer than the nine years or so until 2030 to keep driving a car which runs on fossil fuels.
What are the advantages of buying an EV now?
Electric cars offer a lot of benefits, the biggest one being the fact that they cost less to run than a petrol or diesel car. It’s estimated an electric car can cost between £500-£1,000 a year less to ‘fuel’ than a traditional car, depending on the mileage you drive, and when you add the fact that you currently do not have to pay vehicle tax on an EV, which is on average £143 a year on UK cars, the savings are significant. Electric cars also cost less on average to service as there are far fewer moving parts on an EV, therefore much less to maintain.
Away from the financial benefits, EVs are also a lot of fun to drive. Because maximum power is achieved from the moment you press the accelerator they can feel fast and are great for nipping around town and congested roads. Oh, and there’s the fact that you can feel smug about the fact your car is much better for the environment than a petrol or diesel car.
What are the disadvantages of buying an EV now?
Even though running costs on an EV are much lower than they are for petrol or diesel cars you are likely to pay a premium to buy the EV in the first place. Electric cars are currently expensive because the technology is relatively new and they sell in lower numbers, and manufacturers need to make a profit. For example, the petrol version of the new Vauxhall Mokka costs from £20,735. To buy the electric version it will set you back £30,840 – and that’s after the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) of £3,000. Going off the running costs mentioned above, you will need to drive your EV for a long time to make back in savings the extra you paid for the car in the first place. That’s not to say there aren’t some affordable EVs out there. Something like the MG5 costs £24,495 after the PiCG, and that’s a family estate.
The other big question you need to ask yourself before buying an EV is, can I charge it? Right now EVs generally offer much less in terms of range than petrol and diesel cars and the issue is compounded by the fact they take much longer to ‘fill up’, plus there are far fewer charging stations than there are petrol stations at the moment. Unless you spend a small fortune on a car like the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, your EV will likely be good for 200 miles or less. Most people’s daily mileage is around 20 miles so even smaller EVs can be driven for well over a week before needing a top up, but you currently can’t rely on the public charging network. This means you will need a private garage or driveway where you can plug your car in overnight, or have accessible chargers where you work.
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Who would benefit from buying an EV now?
If you drive only a low mileage each day and have the ability to charge your car at least once a week, either at home or at work, then an EV would be a good car for you. If you can afford the higher price tag you will make money back on the running costs of the car over time. For this reason EVs currently make a lot of sense as a second car. Second cars in households are generally used for shorter drives, such as shopping trips and school runs, so they will need charging less.
If your daily journey takes you into a clean air zone then an EV would offer peace of mind in so much as it is unlikely they will ever be charged to enter the zones. How can a car which produces zero-emissions ever be charged for contributing to unclean air? You will have to weigh up whether the mileage you drive would make it worth it, but if you can plug in the car overnight or at your place of work then it could be a very sensible option.
Who should wait before buying an EV?
Anyone who can’t rely on being able to charge an EV should be extremely cautious about make the switch right now. Pressure is on the government to improve the charging network in the UK, and it has committed £1.3 billion to the cause. If spent quickly and wisely, on-street charging will improve considerably in the coming years, so you’re best to wait for that to happen. Anyone who needs a car to cover high mileage should also wait. Ranges on EVs – even the most expensive ones – today can’t rival that of a lot of petrol and diesel cars. If your job takes you all over the country, or you need to visit friends or relatives who live hundreds of miles away on a regular basis, an EV isn’t going to suit you.
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