Let’s cut straight to the chase, money matters! The environment is important but you are not going to consider getting an electric car unless you can afford to buy and run one. This page helps to give you the key cost facts.
Many countries and cities are beginning to penalise gas guzzlers and incentivise electric car owners. Norway gives electric cars access to the public transport lanes, free parking, and toll-free driving. Italy has actively restricted the use of petrol cars in some city centres while electric cars have free access.
Even America, home of oil and the SUV has tax incentives for manufacturing and owning electric cars. So what is being done in the UK and what does your average electric car cost?
Buying an Electric Car
In the UK, the initial outlay for an electric car is more expensive than for an equivalent petrol car. If you are buying new, the cheapest electric car in the UK comes in at around £8.5k for the Reva G-Wiz. Without a doubt the upfront purchase costs are not cheap for electric vehicles, however significant savings come in the running costs.
The Second Hand Market
One thing worth considering is the option of buying a second hand electric car. With the market in new electric vehicles in the UK being limited so this is reflected in limited availablility for second hand electric cars. However, using the G-Wiz again as an example it is possible to pick up a 2 year old vehicle for around £5.5K. Obviously, as the number of new electric cars increases in the UK so will the second hand electric car market. It is worth noting that the vehicle age and the battery age can be different. When buying second hand, if possible, try and get a car with a new battery.
Depreciation is a huge issue with regular petrol and diesel cars. You drive out the showroom and £5k drops off the value of your shiny new car!!. Depreciation is an issue with electric cars too. As the market matures and the technology is proven however then the desirability or reliable, efficient, quiet, emissions free motoring will push the value of second hand electric cars up where it belongs.
Running an Electric Car
Insuring electric cars and electric vans can be slightly less straightforward than insuring a conventional car. However, there are increasing numbers of insurance companies who are offering excellent policies to electric car owners. In some cases your electric car may even qualify you for a discount.
At the moment we are waiting to hear about insurance companies who are particularly good for insuring electric cars in the UK. Most of the usual suspects now appear to offer car insurance for your electric vehicle, however, we are keen to know who is good?
If you have decided you can’t afford an electric car at the moment but want to take a more environmentally-friendly approach to your driving there is another way. Several insurance companies now offer ‘greener’ car insurance policies to the UK driver. This is the following the route of other more ethical investment options such as environmental stewardship based pensions, environmental ISAs etc.
Some insruance companies with ‘green’ policies include:
Ibuyeco, which offers a £5 donation to an eco charity for every policy purchased.
The Green Car Insurance Company which claims to offset 100% of a car’s annual emissions.
More Th>n, which offers a ‘Green Wheels’ policy, this provides information on how to improve your personal driving style to make if more efficient.
Road Tax / Company Car Tax
Road tax is now calculated on your vehicles CO2 emissions measured in grams per kilometre (g/km) driven (for new vehicles registered AFTER 1st March 2001). For older cars (registered BEFORE 1st March 2001) road tax is based on engine size. For electric cars (and some really low emission vehicles) this means they are almost always exempt from road tax.
If you have an electric car you don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge in London – yay! The current London Congestion Charge is £8 a day if you are travelling in the charging zone between 07:00-18:00 Monday to Friday. So if you need to use a car daily in London city centre, that’s £40 a week and around £2K a year and so it wouldn’t be long before that electric car would start to pay for itself.
Parking for electric cars is free in a number of areas (for residents and/or in car parks) and discounted in many others. At the moment this primarily applies to London. Unbelievably, this may be changing as it is ‘resulting in too many people driving electric cars’!! Hmmm, surely that is the point.
The fuel costs for electric cars is low. Taking two of the cars available in the UK at the moment – the Reva G-WIz manages 1.8p per mile and the Mega City 1.9p per mile. Now this is also assuming you are paying for the electricity. There is a network of publically available free electric car charging points in the UK. In comparison a new diesel car would be expected to achieve around 7.5p per mile as the optimum.
Servicing / Maintenance
So what kind of maintenance does an electric car need? Well, not much! That’s one of the great things about electric cars. An electric vehicle has very few moving parts in its engine, compared to a normal petrol / diesel engine.
However, electric cars do have expensive batteries that must be replaced and this is a drawback which the industry need to address. Almost all the running cost of an electric vehicle relates to the maintenance and replacement of the battery pack. Battery lifespan will vary by model. The Tesla Roadster’s for example has a large battery pack expected to last 7 years but this is likely to be considerably more than your average electric car. Battery costs will also vary by model but are likely to be several thousands pounds and potentially could need replaced every 5 years.
In terms of everyday maintainance – check the batteries once a month or so to be sure they don’t need water, and the connections are clean and tight. Keep your tyres properly inflated for good performance. Maintain the clutch, brakes, and suspension as you normally would. Change the brushes on the motor (a minor operation) at about 80,000 miles.
Buying the right Electric Car
And finally here are a few other things over and above costs you might want to think about. This is not rocket science, the same basic isses apply to buying electric cars as they do to buying ordinary cars. You want to think about:
What will you primarily be using the car for? This impacts on everything.
Do you need to carry lots of passengers or kit, think size, number of seats, storage space.
How far and at what speeds do you regularly drive?
Current electric vehicles won’t be ideal for that weekday 100 mile motorway commute.
Read reviews, compare prices and shop around.
If you are buying second hand, look for a full service history, a warranty if possible and check the battery age.
Finally remember the electric car market is not like the conventional car market, changes are more rapid.