Buying an Electric Car

The market for electric cars is growing. By the end of November 2019, the number of pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the roads had reached over 255,000. So we've created this guide to help when buying an electric car.

Man with his son standing in front of a VW e-Golf electric car

Should I buy an electric car?

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether you should buy an electric car today.

Electric cars are attractive for a number of reasons: they're more environmentally friendly with zero tailpipe emissions, they're quiet, have lower running costs, provide an enhanced driving experience and have the latest in automobile technology.

As more and more manufacturers invest heavily in bringing new models to the market and prices begin to fall, there’s never been a better time to make the switch.

But should you buy an electric car today? There are things to think about such as depreciation and ongoing maintenance costs, as well as charging infrastructure. Below we've listed the things to consider before buying an electric car.

How many miles do you do each day?

Quite simply, the majority of electric cars today offer a real world range between 100 and 200 miles between charges. There are some that offer more, and more cars with higher range will be introduced in 2020 but for those doing high mileage, an EV may not be suitable unless suitable charging options are available to you.

electric fuel gauge

Daily mileage less than 150 miles

According to the UK's Department for Transport, the average car trip is around 8.5 miles, with more than half of car trips being under 5 miles.

So, for most people an electric car is more than capable of covering their day to day journeys.

green motorway services sign

Daily mileage more than 150 miles

For those commuting or regularly driving greater distances, there are a number of models offering longer ranges. Although generally the higher the range, the larger the batteries and the greater the cost.

To understand if an electric car is suitable, access to chargers and charging time should be considered. Driving longer journeys is no problem is an electric car, where rapid chargers are available, such as at motorway service stations. Rapid charging offers an appoximate 80% charge in around 20 – 40 minutes. If you regularly drive longer journeys, it's worth familiarising yourself with the motorway charging networks.

Where will you charge?

electric car charging

Home charging

Most current electric car owners choose to charge at home. A recent report by the UK government found that 80% of all electric car charging happens at home.

It costs around £2.30 to charge 100 miles with EDF Energy's GoElectric tariffs off peak rate, compared to £11 for a traditional petrol car. Charging your EV at home is the most cost efficient way to charge and is simple and convenient if you have access to off-street parking.

electric car charging on a public road

Public charging

For anyone without access to dedicated parking, electric driving is still feasible. It just requires a bit more planning. Before you decide to make a purchase, explore what public charging is in your area - using a resource like ZapMap. Visit the charge points and check for things like availability; parking restrictions; how often they are being used by others and whether there are any fees for charging or parking.

Many cities in the UK are also investing in rapid filling stations and hubs on the outskirts of towns and cities. Similar in style to a regular petrol station, these will charge a car to around 80% in anything from 30 minutes to an hour. Find out if there are any plans for similar facilities near you - it’s worth phoning the local council to find out what plans they have for charging infrastructure and whether there are any local incentives such as free charging.

Workplace charging

If your place of work offers workplace charging, this is also a valuable alternative to home and public charging. There are Government grants available for businesses who want to install workplace charge points, so if your company doesn’t offer this, could they be encouraged to consider it?

Will you use your electric car for business or pleasure?

man charging an electric car on the street

If your car is purely for pleasure, think about what type of trips you’ll be wanting to make. Do you tow a caravan or horse box, or regularly taking long trips into areas that may not have charging? Then perhaps an electric car isn’t quite right for you.

If you're making the occasional long journey and aren't willing to wait for your car to charge along the way, is there alternative for this type of trip? Could you factor in the cost of train or coach, or even renting a gasoline powered car for the odd trip?

For the business user there are plenty of financial incentives for driving an electric car. The convenience and ease of driving electric will depend on your mileage - if you're travelling hundreds of miles a day, and don't have the budget for a long range EV such as a Tesla, additional time to stop to rapid charge on route will need to be factored into any route planning. Don’t forget that you can still claim 45p per business mile though - something that may make the prospect more attractive.

Vauxhall Corsa-e front exterior view on road

Lease a brand new electric car

Buying a brand new car isn't for everyone. Lower your out-of-pocket costs and generate zero emissions by leasing an electric car with an affordable monthly rental. No road tax, low maintenance and no depreciation costs.

Find out more

Why buy an electric car?

There's many reasons to buy an electric car. Lets take a look at the main ones

electric car green environment

Environmental

If your buying decision is based on environmental concerns then there’s two things to consider. Firstly, think about whether you’re comfortable with pure electric or whether a plug-in hybrid electric (or PHEV for short) would work better for you. Pure electric driving equals zero emissions on the road however a PHEV could offer you the best of both worlds depending on the type of journeys you do. Allowing you to drive on electric only mode for short distances but with a petrol engine for when longer journeys are required.

Also research your manufacturer. Many car makers are striving for carbon neutral manufacturing aiming to reduce CO2 emissions in the car production. Others are investing in carbon offset programmes to support this. If your carbon footprint is the driving factor, then both need to be considered.

black ev charging in street

Costs

If cost is the main factor for making the switch to an electric car, then try to consider the whole life costs of owning the vehicle. Although electric cars currently cost more to buy than their petrol or diesel equivalents, the costs are coming down. Once you factor in the significant fuel and running costs of petrol and diesel cars, you may find that the overall life costs of an electric car are significantly lower. This is especially true if you’re thinking about an electric car for business use.

Also factor in any local incentives such as free parking or free charging which can substantially add to savings. Not only that, but with rising air pollution and the health risks that come with it, the UK Government are supporting the uptake in electric cars by offering a Plug-in Vehicle grant of up to £3,500 to help UK citizens buy an EV.

internal workings of an ev

Technology

If you simply love new technology and are keen to get behind the wheel of a next generation vehicle, well the time is now. With so many different makes and models to choose from, the range of additional technology, from connected apps to autonomous parking, there’s enough to keep all tech lovers excited.

VW e-Golf front view parked charging

Help to buy an electric car

The UK government offer help to buy an electric car in the form of the Plug-in Car Grant, an incentive that gives you a discount on the purchase price of a brand new low-emission vehicle grant towards the total cost of buying an electric car.

Applied directly by eligible dealers, the grant will be applied to the vehicle’s purchase price up to the value of 35 per cent of the price, to a maximum of £3,500.

Cars such as the Audi e-tron, BMW i3 and i3s, Hyundai KONA Electric, Jaguar I-PACE, Nissan e-NV200, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model X and Volkswagen e-Golf qualify.

Read more on the Plug-in Car Grant and other government incentives

What are the reasons not to buy an electric car?

Buying an electric car FAQs

Should I lease or buy an electric car?

This will completely depend on your own personal circumstances.

The UK is a nation of used car buyers, with almost 75% of all cars bought second hand. With the market for second hand electric cars very small at the moment for many an electric car is not yet an option.

For those looking to buy from new, the range of electric cars is growing and is set to increase in 2020. That’s not to say you should sit back and wait. Demand for new entries is expected to be high so if you have a particular model in mind, it’s best to get onto a waiting list now.

Leasing, instead of purchasing outright, is another option. This provides a more affordable way to drive a new electric car with the major benefit of being able to hand the car back at the end of the lease. Meaning you won’t have any worries about depreciation costs and you can upgrade to the next generation of vehicles easily. At EDF Energy, we have partnered with Drive Electric, one of the UK’s leading electric car lease providers. Take a look at some of our car leasing deals.

Should i buy an electric car now or wait?

Should i buy a second hand electric car?

Which electric car should I buy?

What is the best electric car to buy?

How much does an electric car cost to buy?

What's the cheapest electric car to buy?

Do your research

Go Ultra Low Company logo

Our final advice to anyone thinking about driving an electric car is to do your research. The Government’s Go Ultra Low website has loads of advice and guidance, you can check out the latest models and there’s cost comparison calculators to work out how much you can save. And once you’ve decided on a shortlist of cars: make sure you take it for a test drive. Many dealerships offer longer test drives.

Why not speak to our friends at DriveElectric about the vehicles you're interested in and they'll help you to find the right car to suit your needs. They can even help you arrange a test drive from a local dealership.

Find out more about electric cars

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Understand the costs of running an EV

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One explorer. An 86 year old skydiver. And an electric car powered by the Scottish wind. We challenged Camilla Thurlow to go back to her roots in Scotland and skydive with the fearless Dilys Price.

This is the fifth and final episode of Electric Adventures!

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