Find out about the benefits of buying an electric car, how to insure one, and which are the best electric car models for 2019.
Electric cars were a novel sight on roads until just a few years ago, 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 paying VED (also known as car tax or road tax) are zero emissions electric cars with a list price of £40,000 and under. And to further encourage electric car take-up, the government has announced a ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 — meaning new cars manufactured from that date will have to be electric or hybrid to comply. Most recently, ministers were warned that ahead of the deadline, 60% of new cars manufactured should be electric vehicles.
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 them, 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 of electric vehicles (EVs). 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 £3,500, depending on the model you choose (be aware that most list prices take this grant into account).
Most electric cars are exempt from paying 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. Electric cars that cost more than £40,000 and registered after 31 March 2017 are still subject to VED. It’s important to remember that even if you don’t need to pay for vehicle tax, you still need to apply for it.
Of course, owning an electric car means you’ll never have to fill up on petrol or diesel. You can charge your car 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 in 2019
If you want to go electric for your next car purchase, you might want to consider some of these popular electric models.
Price: From £18,420 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant and excluding mandatory battery hire)
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 £26,690 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
First introduced in 2010, Nissan has upgraded its electric Leaf with an all-new style and improved range of up to 235 miles on a single charge. The new model won the best electric car category in the 2018 WhatCar Car of the Year awards.
The new Leaf is in insurance group 21, meaning it should be mid-priced when it comes to insurance.
Price: From £19,615 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
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 in insurance group 10 the e-up! is one of the cheapest electric cars to insure too.
Price: From £31,680 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
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. The car has been updated for 2019.
Unlike the larger standard BMWs, the i3 is mid-range for insurance groups, with most trims in group 21.
Price: From £28,870 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
Volkswagen’s e-Golf is based on its ever-popular Golf hatchback — in fact, to the untrained eye there’s no visual difference between the standard and electric models.
With models starting in insurance group 15, the e-Golf is one of the cheapest electric cars to insure.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Price: From £26,745 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
Hyundai has released three low-emissions versions of its Ioniq hatchback: hybrid, plug-in and fully electric.
The Hyundai Ioniq electric should be reasonably cheap to insure, with models starting in insurance group 16.
Kia Soul EV
Price: From £26,995 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
If you’re after an electric car with distinctive looks, the Kia Soul EV might be for you. The Soul recently received an 11% increase in range thanks to a new battery upgrade in 2018 models.
Sitting in insurance group 18, the Kia Soul EV is reasonable to insure — although its petrol-powered counterpart starts as low as group 9.
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
Price: From £17,695 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
Keeping its well-known innovative design up to date, Smart now offers electric drivetrains for both its Fortwo and Forfour models.
The classic Fortwo model in its new electric version is in insurance group 13, making it an affordable contender for electric car insurance.
Tesla Model S
Price: From £64,700 (when purchased with Government Plug-in Car Grant)
While it may not be one of the cheapest electric cars to insure, no EV list 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).