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Electric vehicles (EVs) have been touted as a big solution to the climate crisis and as such many countries have chosen to ban the sale of petrol or diesel cars from 2030 onward. This policy has influenced nearly all car manufacturers to create an electric car within their range of models, with many also offering hybrids. The future will see all cars on the road being electric, which in turn will reduce air pollution and create a low carbon economy.
Here you learn about the sustainability of electric vehicles and the information that will help you understand why your next car should probably be electric.
Environmental Pros and Cons
The environmental benefits of EVs have been challenged in recent years. This is mainly due to the amount of electricity still produced from fossil fuels, but it is also due to manufacturing. Production of a standard family car will create around 5.6 tonnes of carbon for a petrol or diesel vehicle, compared to 8.8 tonnes for an EV. This difference is due to the energy-intensive battery manufacture.
If the energy used by an electric vehicle was entirely renewable (a reality achieved with household solar panels), then the manufacturing cost would be it’s sole lifetime environmental impact. This would bring a net saving of 15 tonnes of carbon over its lifetime. With the energy mix as it is, the carbon saving stands more around 6 tonnes of carbon against average petrol or diesel cars. However, as more renewable energy is deployed, EVs could put a big dent in the 25% of carbon emissions associated with transport.
Wait or buy now?
The cost of EVs is falling quickly. The market estimates that they will be the same price as other vehicles by 2025. But why wait? The cost of running an EV is a fraction of that of a comparable petrol or diesel car, with there still being subsidies to tap into.
Purchasing Cost of Electric Vehicles
EVs, with the installation of a charging point and subsidies available to individuals, are between £7,000 and £10,000 more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents. However, this additional cost is quickly made up by running costs which are around £800 annually if you travel 10,000 miles in a year. As with any vehicle, EVs may be bought on a lease, and if you do a decent mileage, then the monthly savings from fuel can actually make leasing an EV the cheapest option!
For business owners, EVs have recently been given considerable exemptions from Benefit In Kind Tax. The savings on a £30,000 EV versus a petrol or diesel car could be as much as £3,000 a year, making EVs an extremely competitive option for employees. There is also a growing second-hand market in EVs. Prices start from around £6,000 for your smaller hatchbacks and sedans - a very good price for a commuter vehicle, especially with the savings in running costs!
There are some longer-range vehicles, but as the market is maturing in this area the prices jump quickly. There is a good guide provided by our community which details comparative costs of models available - this can be found here.
Range and Lifetimes of Electric Vehicles
The range of vehicles is dependent on whether they are being used for long haul or inner-city trips, and can also be dependent on weather conditions and use of heating or air conditioning. Most provide variable ranges according to how they are used and it should be noted that often cars do up to 20% less than advertised. So please do ask and consult our community before making a purchase.
Warranties on vehicles are usually for up to 100,000 miles. This is an extremely poor indicator on the lifetime of electric vehicles. As they have many less moving parts (a battery and motor on each wheel to make it run), the lifetime of vehicles can far exceed warranties. The main component which affects lifetime is the most expensive element – the battery. Although these do lose the potential for charge over time (something worthwhile checking when getting a second-hand vehicle), most will last a lot longer than advertised. Some anecdotal evidence indicates that electric vehicles will run up to 300,000 miles on the same battery.
Charging Electric Vehicles
For all new EVs, an electric charging point is provided as standard, although installing these can prove difficult if for instance, you live in terraced housing. For most owners, they charge their vehicle overnight for low-cost electricity and then use it during the day to get to and from work.
There are rising numbers who don’t have access to a home charger, therefore understanding charging connectors can be really important. There are slow, and rapid chargers available. Slow chargers (3.6-7kWh) are often available free to use in car parks as they don’t use that much electricity and will take 10 hours to fully charge your car. Rapid chargers (50-150kWh) can charge your car to 80% in 30 minutes. There are also superchargers for particular brands of cars.
There are numerous companies providing charging, with this being confusing for EV owners, whilst also requiring the download of many apps for smartphones. If you want to learn more about this, then do check out community discussions on the topic and ask our members for advice.
Running Costs of Electric Vehicles
It can cost nothing to charge at home if you have a variable tariff or are using solar panels. On normal tariffs, however, it will cost 5p per mile, and if you use public charge points this will be around 8p. When compared with fueling with petrol or diesel, the savings come to 10p per mile, which is up to £1,000 a year for driving 10,000 miles using higher-cost home charging.
There’s also a maintenance saving. Electric vehicles have a far lower number of parts than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Over 4 years or 60,000 miles EVs save £350 to £1,250 when compared with petrol or diesel equivalents. It is estimated by our community that you will save back the additional cost of an EV within around 8 years, giving lifetime savings from driving an EV.