In recent years a concerted drive to make cars more eco-friendly has seen the number of electric cars on UK roads soar and as we show here there’s plenty to shout about.
If the pressure’s been on for drivers to go green in recent years, it’s in overdrive now. COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which was held in Glasgow in November 2021, applied the thumbscrews to governments around the world, and a fair bit of the focus was on vehicle emissions.
The UK government has been at the forefront of change, introducing new road charging schemes to various cities around the country, maintaining the zero-road tax rate for most electric vehicles (EVs) – despite the inevitable fall in HMRC revenue as a result.
Of course, all the carrots that’ve been dangled before motorists wouldn’t be worth much without buy in from the manufacturers. As it is, the sector has grabbed the challenge of producing zero-emission vehicles with relish.
The SMMT conducted a survey of more than 2,400 drivers, and found that 28% of those surveyed would consider getting an electric car as a result of the recent fuel crisis.
Battery range has vastly improved and the government offers a grant in the form of a discount for the purchase of a low-emission vehicle that have been approved by the government. The maximum grant available is £2,500 – to ease the buying burden. Though it won’t be around forever, you’re warned.
EVs with drive ranges of more than 200 miles are now commonplace, and while their purchase price is falling, performance levels are rising. These benefits are helping to dispel the once common-held belief that electric vehicles are pricey and inconvenient. The result has been a surge in sales.
There are now more than 675,000 electric vehicles registered in the UK, and in stark contrast to diesel and petrol vehicles, the number of EVs is rocketing. New registrations of electric cars rose 73% to 16,155 in October 2021 compared with the same month in 2020, while diesels fell 66% to 7,028, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Petrol, although still the biggest player, saw new registrations drop by 18% to 48,384.
In the year to October 2021 141,296 electric cars were registered, up 86% on the previous 12 months. Petrol registrations slipped 15% to 669,982 over the same period, while diesel registrations dropped behind EVs to 124,663. Judging by the results, the tide is turning in favour of electric vehicles, and the smart money is on this trend accelerating as we move closer to 2030, when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned.
There’s now far less of a gap between what you’d pay to insure an EVa EV when compared to a petrol or diesel model. Take the popular Nissan Leaf, online marketplace Heycar found it £156 cheaper on average to insure than its closest petrol alternative, the Ford Fiesta.
Don’t think for a second that all electric cars will be cheap to insure. What you pay will still be determined by your driving history, where you live and what you drive. Likewise, electric vehicles can be very expensive to repair, damage the battery and it could be a write-off. A relative lack of fully-trained EV mechanics means labour costs can be relatively high – although this would be expected to fall over time as more specialists enter the trade.
If you lack the courage to make the full EV leap, hybrid car sales are taking up some of the slack nicely. Some models even switch automatically to ‘EV mode’ when entering urban areas.
The cost of insuring EVs will also drop over time as manufacturers streamline their processes and competition in the market becomes more heated, especially after 2030. But, there are plenty of reasons why it makes sense to consider an electric car now rather than at the end of the decade. These include:
The government’s £2,500 plug-in grant, which is available for anyone buying a new EV. The grant is issued to dealerships and manufacturers and applied to the sale of electric cars, motorbikes, vans, taxis, trucks and mopeds.
While there are now more than 27,400 public charge devices installed, take up of home charge points is seen as key to the future smooth running of electric vehicles. To encourage more drivers to have a device fitted at home the government will pay up to £350 toward the cost of installing a home charge point.
Under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme drivers with two EVs can apply for two grants, and have a charge point for each vehicle.
Owners of electric vehicles currently don’t pay any vehicle excise duty, or road tax, although it’s still a legal requirement to tax your car before taking to the road.
Fuel prices topped £1.50 a litre for diesel in November 2021, the highest rate ever. Drivers of electric cars are spared the need to see their hard-earned cash go up in exhaust fumes, as recharging an EV costs peanuts in comparison.
According to EDF Energy, rapid charge points at service stations cost around £7 for 30 minutes of charging, which will give you a driving range of around 100 miles. If that’s not cheap enough, Tesla owners can recharge for free at its own-brand points, and the company is trialling a scheme which would see other vehicles not charged for using a Tesla charge point.
If you’re looking for your first or second electric car, there’s probably never been a better time to get on-board with EVs. More and more models and manufacturers are producing EVs that can compete with conventional alternatives in terms of looks, speed, comfort and all-round performance.
Here we take a look at some of the standout cars of the past 12 months.
While electric car acceleration is often rapid, EVs often have a substantially lower top speed, cutting risk again.
Find the advice you need for the stage you're at here.
If you're thinking about getting an EV, what do you need to consider when it comes to charging?
If you've ordered an EV, what do you need to do to prepare for its arrival?
If you have an EV and you're considering installing a home charger, we can help advise you.
Price from: £28,500
Finance deals from: £275 per month
Maximum range: 144 miles
Insurance Group: 22 - 23
For a small SUV the MINI Electric packs quite a punch. Yes, the range isn’t great, but there’s hardly room for a huge battery in such a diminutive car. What the MINI loses in range it more than makes up for in thrills. Inside you have one classy set-up, everything is designed for maximum functionality, yet it reeks of class.
What happens outside doesn’t disappoint either. Considering it has a 184hp motor, the 7.3 seconds it can take to hit 60mph is pretty impressive, as is the 144 range. Of course, all this pales into insignificance compared with the sheer fun or driving a car that barely clears the tarmac. You feel you are driving so low that everything seems to happen so much faster. This is one car that grips the road, limpet-like.
Fiat 500 Electric
Price from: £34,995
Finance deals from: £380 per month
Maximum range: 322 miles
Insurance Group: 18 - 36
New for 2021 the Volkswagen ID.4 is in a class of its own. Take range. You can cruise along for up to 322 miles without needing a top up, that’ll get you from Newcastle to London with plenty of juice to spare. When you do need to recharge, the fastest option for an entry-level 52kW battery is up to 80% in 30 minutes. At home, using a 7kW point you can go from naught to fully charged in less than nine hours.
Volkswagen describes the ID.4 as an urban SUV, which makes a lot of sense. It’s nippy and has a tight turning circle. Handling is good and it’s comfortable, featuring soft-touch grey and brown upholstery, a dark and stylish interior and a choice of 30 colours for interior ambient lighting.
Skoda Enyaq iV
Price from: £36,995
Finance deals from: £396 per month
Maximum range: 300 miles
Insurance Group: 29 - 40
New for 2021, the latest Ioniq made quite a splash when it launched, winning plaudits from the great and the good. It was named Car of the Year 2021 by AutoExpress, and you can see why. It has plenty of space for passengers, yet it’s agile, with a very tight turning circle, making it ideal for city driving.
When you’re out of town the Sport mode ensures a fun drive, and range won’t disappoint either. The 77.4kW battery means the car can cover up to 298 miles. The Ioniq 5 can do zero to 62mph in 7.4 seconds and has a top speed of 115mph. When it comes to charge speed, Hyundai’s latest can attain 80% charge in less than 18 minutes if connected to a 350kW ultrafast charger.
Looks-wise it’s a smart, deceptively compact, verging on sporty-looking SUV. We say deceptively because it’s actually around 40mm taller than a Jaguar I-Pace. Inside, the toothy display consul may take some getting used to, but there’s no denying the trim and upholstery look very smart.
Prices from: £27,595 - £31,49
Finance deals from: £212 per month
Maximum range: miles
Insurance Group: 32E
What’s not to like about the MG Model 5 EV? It’s an estate, and there aren’t too many EV versions of these cars around. It has a range of 250 miles, which is handy seeing how it’s big enough to take the family and luggage away for a holiday. The boot alone has a volume of 578 litres, but you can raise this to 1,456 litres with the rear seats down. Seats up and there’s plenty of space for five people.
The MG 5 is powered by a 61.1kW water-cooled lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged to 80% within an hour. It can go from 0-60mph in a respectable 7.3 seconds and has a top speed of 115mph. Critics of the car say it’s a little on the plain side, which is a little odd given it’s an estate. After all, it’s not a sports car, or even a more in vogue SUV. It fits the bill if you are after a practical, large, family EV.
Price from: £41,990
Finance deals from: £350 per month
Maximum range: 360 miles
Insurance Group: 48 - 50
The most affordable model in the Tesla range, the glass-roofed Model 3 is also one of the biggest selling EVs in the UK. Not bad for a car that will cost you upwards of £41,000. It’s not only the stunning body shape that stands out, performance-wise it’s hard to fault. You can expect to reach 60mph from scratch in just 3.1 seconds and keep going up to 162mph.
The range is pretty good, too. Depending on which Model 3 you drive, you can expect to cover between a maximum of 278 miles and 360 miles, although caning the engine will rapidly reduce these impressive figures.
Being a Tesla refuelling is a doddle. The company’s Supercharger network covers large areas of the road system and can recharge your car to 80% in around 40 minutes. If you happen to be running low on charge, the onboard sat-nav will divert you to the nearest public charge point.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Price from: £65,245 - £76,695
Finance deals from: £837 per month
Maximum range: 292 miles
Insurance Group: 47E – 50E
It’s hard to quibble with fans of the eye-catching Jaguar I-Pace. Just a year after launching in 2018 it became the first EV to pick up the European Car of the Year award. The prestige car was praised for technical innovation, design, performance, efficiency and value for money, which is saying something given the price tag.
The I-Pace is capable of shifting from zero to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds and thanks to 400 horsepower it can reach a top speed of 124mph. What sets this SUV apart from the noticeable competition is its drivetrain. Running along the chassis is a 90kW lithium-ion battery, which along with the addition of a charging upgrade in 2021 now means it’s possible to charge the car at a rate of 33 miles driving range each hour using a home charge point.
Inside the spacious cabin you’ll find high-class wood trim and leather upholstery, as well as the Jaguar’s Pivi Pro infotainment system, which works just like a smartphone and delivers impressive audio and visual quality.
Audi e-Tron GT