Find out about the benefits of buying an electric car, how to insure one, and which are the best electric car models.
Electric cars were a novel sight on roads until recently, but with the technology becoming more accessible and being made available in more desirable cars, electric cars are fast becoming a more realistic option for car buyers.
Electric vehicles also look set to become more popular after the car tax band overhaul that came into effect from 1 April 2017, which means the only new cars exempt from VED (also known as car tax or road tax) are zero emissions electric cars.
Insuring an electric car
A few years ago, owners of electric cars might have struggled to find an affordable insurance policy. Insurers base their premiums on previous data, including claims history, for types of vehicle. But when electric car technology was new, there was less historical data for them to work from. Because electric cars were an unknown quantity to many insurers, some declined to cover these types of car, meaning prices were less competitive.
Thankfully, electric car insurance is becoming more accessible as the cars grow in popularity, with many insurers now happy to cover drivers. The fastest way to find an insurer and compare deals from several different insurers is through a price comparison website like uSwitch.
How much does electric car insurance cost?
While the cost of car insurance will vary due to many factors such as your age, driving history and postcode, there are some general things insurers consider when covering electric cars.
There are some elements of owning an electric car that could assure your provider you are at a low risk of making a claim:
- Electric cars tend to be lower power, so less likely to be involved in high-speed accidents
- The type of people who buy electric vehicles could be deemed more responsible
- Electric cars are modern and likely to be equipped with safety features and crash avoidance technology
However, insurers are also likely to take the extra risks of covering an electric car into account:
- Potential danger to pedestrians as there is little engine noise
- Batteries could be considered a fire hazard
- Specialist parts may be more expensive to repair or replace
Although you might find that insurance is more expensive for an electric car than its standard equivalent model, the cost over the time you own it could be offset by the savings you make on fuel and tax.
Benefits of an electric car
Although you may not save on insurance, there are many financial benefits of buying an electric car, and it’s important to consider any savings over the lifetime of the car (or for the time you will own it).
Firstly, you’ll save on the purchase price of a new electric car thanks to a government grant. The Plug-in Car Grant covers 35% of the cost of a new electric car up to £2,500 or £4,500, depending on the model you choose (be aware that most list prices take this grant into account).
Electric cars are exempt from VED (car tax or road tax), saving up to £140 per year based on the rates that came into effect from 1 April 2017. You’ll also save up to £2,000 on tax for the year the car is registered, compared to the rate for a highly polluting car.
Of course, owning an electric car means you’ll never have to fill up on petrol or diesel. You can charge at home using a standard plug or choose to install a domestic charging point. Charging from home costs about £2-4 in electricity for a full charge. There’s also a growing number of public charging points so you can recharge on the go.
The best electric cars
If you want to go electric for your next car purchase, you might want to consider some of these popular electric models.
Price: From £13,995
Renault’s Zoe is the biggest-selling electric car in Europe, and is an affordable choice for those looking to make the switch to electric.
With models starting in insurance group 14, the Renault Zoe should be affordable to insure.
Price: From £16,680
Introduced in 2010, the Nissan Leaf was probably most people’s first impression of a mainstream electric car. With various upgrades over the years, the Leaf is still a solid choice and is in the mid-range of insurance groups with models starting in group 19.
Price: From £25,280
As the name suggests, the VW e-up! Is the electric version of Volkswagen’s popular city car, the VW up!
The standard up! Is one of the cheapest cars to insure, and the electric version remains at the lowest end of the spectrum in insurance group 10.
Price: From £31,810
Known for its luxury cars, BMW has branched out into the electric vehicle market with the i3, and with some success — it was the second-biggest-selling electric car in Europe in 2016.
Unlike the larger standard BMWs, the i3 is mid-range for insurance groups, with most trims in group 21.
Tesla Model S
Price: From £65,300
No list of electric cars would be complete without the mention of Tesla. With impressive range specifications and even self-driving capabilities, the Tesla model S is a performance car with an electric heart.
Unsurprisingly, with its high value and performance, the Tesla Model S is in insurance group 50 (the highest allocation available).