The benefits and drawbacks of electric cars over petrol and diesel

17 Jul 2018

benefits of an electric car

There has been a huge surge in demand for electric vehicles over the last few years. New registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to over 150,000 in May 2018. Predictions are that there could be another 60,000 new registrations this year.

National Grid projects electric vehicles will reach around one million by the early 2020s, and there could be nine million electric vehicles by 2030.

With the Government banning new diesel and petrol fuelled cars by 2040, the petrol forecourts that most us have been so used to, will become a thing of the past. Indeed, BP’s recent purchase of Chargemaster, the UK’s biggest name in electric vehicle charge points, signals the speed at which the electric vehicle market might now take off.

There has been some reluctance from people to move to electric cars but it will have to happen for all of us. With IDDEA’s MD, Ian Dunstone, being the proud owner of an electric car, we give you his benefits and drawbacks.

The benefits of electric cars

1) Running costs savings

The biggest day-to-day saving with an electric case is the cost of fuel. Depending on your home electricity tariff, charger type and time of charge, you can travel 100 miles in an electric car for under £2. This compares to the best-value £12 in a petrol-powered vehicle. (Source: RAC).

Pure electric vehicles with no emissions are exempt from DVLA road tax of around £140 per year. And of course, for those travelling into congestion or Ultra Low emissions zones, there are no charges.

Ian, being a bit of a nerd, records his distance his Nissan Leaf has travelled against the units of charge it took over the same time.  He proudly boasts that the last 629 miles cost a little less than £10 (due to time of use tariff – and we’ll tell you more about this soon).  Ian’s not just a nerd – he’s a thrifty nerd!

2) Cheaper to maintain

With fewer moving parts, the servicing and maintenance costs of an electric car are lower. An annual service could be up to £300 cheaper than a petrol or diesel equivalent.

3) Easy to charge at home

There’s no petrol station queuing with an electric car. As soon as you get home, you can plug in and charge your car ready for when you want to take it out again. Home charge points have advantages over a standard three-pin plug socket. 

There is an OLEV grant available for buying and installing home charge points which IDDEA can help you access.

4)  Environmental and health benefits

There are no tailpipe emissions from a pure electric car, and plug-in hybrids have significantly reduced emissions. This improves air quality, and so is better for the environment and for our health. It can be argued that producing the electricity to power the car creates emissions. But, imagine the benefits if you could power your car from the energy produced by solar panels or other renewables source at your home or place of work!

5) Grid balancing and an extra income

Under a pioneering scheme, owners of the new Nissan Leaf will earn money by renting out their electric car battery while it is parked at home. Nissan has teamed up with energy supplier Ovo Energy to offer a grid balancing scheme to help the power grid handle the surge in green energy demand. Power can be put back into the grid from your car battery when you don’t need it during peak hours and draw electricity from the grid when it is cheap. If users get the balance right, they could effectively drive their EVs for free.

The drawbacks of electric cars

1) Higher upfront costs

There can be a higher upfront cost in buying an electric car compared to a petrol or diesel. But as technology develops, prices are coming down. There is the Government Plug in Car grant which equates to around £4,500 to buy pure electric cars and £2,500 for plug-in hybrids in the UK. Insurance costs are currently higher too.

The higher purchase price shouldn’t put you off buying an electric car. A study at the University of Leeds analysed the total cost of ownership of cars, including the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and maintenance. They found that pure electric cars cost less over four years than petrol or diesel cars in the UK.

2) Limited range

‘Range anxiety’ is a disadvantage often quoted by electric car sceptics. Most common EVs come with around 100 miles of range on a single charge. If you only use your car for short journeys or commutes and don’t do a large daily mileage, then an electric car would be suitable. But if you regularly travel over 100 miles, then charging could be an issue and you must plan your journey well. The UK’s charging infrastructure is improving. commute around the city, run around town on the weekends or don’t put huge miles into the car daily than these cars should more than suffice your lifestyle.

Our conclusion

While electric cars have drawbacks, technology is changing rapidly.

In Ian’s words, “There’s never been a better time to think about switching to electric. It can bring significant savings on fuel and running costs and makes sense for the environment.”

You can find a good source of information on electric cars on the Go Ultra Low website – a joint Government and car industry initiative to support the switch to electric vehicles.

How IDDEA can help you

IDDEA are OLEV approved installers of electric car home charge points. We offer a free site survey and can manage the Electric Vehicle Homecharge grant scheme paperwork on your behalf.

Please contact us today on 03180 726999 or email us through our contact form to book a site survey.

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