How to buy an electric car

19 February 2019

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have been growing in popularity over the last decade and, with recent research finding that electric vehicles are now cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel, that popularity looks set to grow. Transport is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in Britain, and the government plans to ban the sale of diesel vehicles by 2040.  Many car manufacturers are now launching their own EVs, making it easier than ever to join the electric vehicle revolution.

But although EVs are more accessible and easier to own than a few years ago, they’re not necessarily right for everyone. Here’s everything you need to know about buying an EV.

Should you buy an electric car?

Carbon emissions from transport account for the majority of personal carbon emissions, so switching to an electric vehicle is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. And if you charge your EV using 100% green electricity, you could travel with virtually no impact on the environment.

But while the benefits of electric vehicles make them very appealing, it’s important to consider if they’re right for you.

Think about what you use your current car for, and if an electric vehicle would work in the same way. If you have a long commute to and from work, it might be that you don’t have enough time to charge your car in between drives. And if you don’t have off-road parking, you might find charging your car at home tricky.

Advantages of electric vehicles

There are lots of good things about owning and driving an electric vehicle:

They’re good for the environment

As long as you’re on supply with a green energy company and you charge up at home, you’ll be driving with no carbon emissions. And if you charge up with 100% green electricity from the Electric Highway while you’re on the go, you’ll always be driving with zero emissions.

No tax

In Britain, EVs are not currently subject to vehicle tax. As the number of EVs on the road increases, this may not last forever – but for now, they could help you save money on vehicle tax.

Cheaper servicing and maintenance

In general, EVs are cheaper than traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to service. ICE vehicles have 2,000 moving parts – that’s 2,000 parts that could go wrong and need servicing. Electric vehicles only have 20 moving parts.

Your house is your petrol station

We all know the feeling of jumping in the car at home and realising that the petrol light is on. With an EV you don’t have this problem. You can simply plug in and charge up at home whenever you need to.

And if you do find yourself running low on fuel when you’re out and about, there are plenty of charge points where you can top up your tank. You can find a list of our Electric Highway charge points here.

You’ll save money

EVs are cheaper to run. A study has found that electric cars cost less to run than petrol or diesel in five European counties. The research looked at the purchase cost, fuel and tax costs, and found that EV drivers in Britain could save up to 5% compared to a petrol or diesel car.

Disadvantages of electric vehicles

There are some downsides to owning an electric vehicle that you should consider:

Time

Electric cars can take a while to charge, so you need to make sure you put time aside for this. While you can refuel a petrol vehicle in just a couple of minutes, EVs take a little longer. You may have to plan your time out when you’re travelling to give yourself plenty of time for charging.

There aren’t as many charging points as petrol stations

As the number of EVs on the roads increases, so does the need for charging points. And while the number of charging points is increasing, you’re still likely to find yourself waiting to charge.

Research has found that to cater for all the new EVs on the roads, Britain needs six times the number of charging points by 2020.

That said, our Electric Highway allows EV drivers to travel the length and breadth of Britain. We have charge points at around 300 locations covering the motorway network and beyond. Find your nearest Electric Highway charging point here.

Range anxiety

This is the most common concern many drivers have with EVs. Range anxiety is the fear that the car’s battery will run out of power before the car has reached its destination or a charge point.

Although a few years ago this was a reasonable worry, EVs now have a much longer range and there are more charge points than ever before – so range anxiety shouldn’t really put you off going electric.

Cost of EVs

Home electricity costs

Charging at home will help you save money on petrol – but it will also mean that you’re using more electricity, so your energy bills are likely to be higher.

But you will be saving money on petrol and you can choose an EV tariff, like our Fully Charged bundle, to make charging your EV more affordable.

Ecotricity electric highway electric vehicle charging point

Battery leasing

Sometimes, you can lease a battery instead of buying it outright. This saves you having to pay to replace the battery (should you have to).

You pay a monthly fee to lease the battery and if it deteriorates it will be replaced, as long as it’s under warranty. It’s worth noting that you’ll be in a contract with a leased battery, and that you’ll have a monthly fee to pay.

New or second-hand?

You may be wary of buying a second-hand EV in case the battery has deteriorated. This can really differ car by car, so do your research and understand how the battery has been used in the past.  

Was the battery leased or owned? What was the range when it was new, and what is the range now? Every EV battery will be different depending on how the car has been used by the previous owner, so do your homework to find out what works for you.

You’ll definitely find that it can be cheaper to buy a second-hand EV than buying an equivalent second-hand petrol or diesel vehicle. But it’s worth noting that there aren’t many second-hand EVs out there, because it’s still quite an emerging market.

Parking

In most places, you’ll find that you’ll get free car parking if you’re charging up your car. You can also get discounted parking in some places if you drive an EV.

How to charge an EV

Your main options for charging an EV is to charge at home, or at public charging points.

If you charge up at home overnight, your car will have a full battery ready to go in the morning. And you could also move to an Economy 7 tariff, where electricity is cheaper throughout the night, to help you save money on charging.

You can charge up on the go when necessary, but it does mean waiting a while for your battery to charge enough to continue your journey. However, the AA recommend that you should take a break from driving every two hours – so it gives you a chance to recharge your batteries as well. You can find out more by reading our guide to charging your electric car.

How to choose the best electric car

Just like choosing a petrol or diesel car, the electric car you choose will depend on budget, family size, and lots of other factors. Be sure to do your research before choosing an EV, and think about exactly what you’ll use your car for.

There are loads of great websites giving you thorough reviews of every kind of EV out there which will help you decide of the best EV for you.  

Check out Car Magazine’s guide to EVs for a detailed list of electric vehicles available in Britain, and comprehensive reviews of each one.

 

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