To EV or not to EV?

27 Apr 2021 | NEWS

That is the question.

So many people hate shopping for cars, in fact many think it’s more stressful than being stuck in a lift, going to the dentist, or even planning a wedding! I, on the other hand, am a complete petrolhead that needs no excuse to talk about cars.

One of the most common questions that I currently get asked by my clients is whether or not they should currently be thinking about switching to an electric vehicle (EV). Like any car related decision this is, of course, to some degree subjective. Many people will either love them or hate them, others may well be completely indifferent.

But, subjectivity aside, there are many benefits to EVs, but there are also some serious disadvantages.

The advantages.

Fully electric vehicles are, at least directly, much better for the environment. They don’t emit CO? and they don’t run on petrol or diesel. And hybrids have greatly improved fuel economy, therefore saving on the amount of fuel needed to run them.

Another advantage is that, in theory, they require less expensive and less frequent maintenance. For a start, EVs don’t need oil to run, meaning no more oil services. And according to data from AutoTrader, electric vehicles are also easier on the brakes, which means you should have to change these less often too.

Of course there are also financial benefits, especially if sourcing through a business. Like any company vehicle you can claim back at least 50% of the VAT, but electric vehicles also have very low BIK (benefit in kind) rates, making them an even more tempting proposition for businesses. Then of course you have the obvious money-saver: less money spent on fuel.

The disadvantages.

The financial side of things also brings me onto the disadvantages. The first of these? They are still significantly more expensive than their petrol or diesel equivalents to buy, even at the lower end of the market. Take MINI for example: The starting list price for a new petrol MINI is around £16,000; the starting list price for a new electric MINI is around £26,000 after the deduction of the current EV grant that’s available. That’s a huge difference.

Talking of the grant, the UK government has recently made a significant change to this too. What used to be a £3,000 grant toward any fully electric vehicle, is now at the time of writing, a £2,500 grant that is only eligible on vehicles with a list price lower than £35,000; let’s be honest, there aren’t a huge number of EVs available in that price bracket yet, and even fewer that have a decent range!

Range is often another disadvantage when compare to their petrol equivalents. And even if the range is good, there is still the matter of what happens when you run out of juice! Whilst charging times are improving, especially at the top end of the market, it still takes significantly more time than filling up with petrol or diesel for the majority of EVs available, and the infrastructure still isn’t there yet across the whole of the UK, especially in more remote locations. The other challenge with charging of comes if you don’t live in house that has a convenient location for the installation of a vehicle charging point.

Of course, as well as the debate on fully electric vehicles, there is another big question that sits alongside it.

Hybrid or Electric?

Overall there are four main types of hybrid and electric vehicle. We’ve pretty much covered fully electric vehicles (EVs) already, and many manufacturers are currently battling to get their name successfully into this arena. Tesla have made their name in this space, but there are now more and more choices becoming available from other manufacturers, such as the Vauxhall Corsa E, MINI Electric or Ford Mustang Mach E, all the way up to an Audi e-tron GT, Porsche Taycan, BMW iX and Mercedes EQC. Then of course there is the Rimac Concept One, if you’re in the market for a hypercar, which some of you might just know as the all-electric hypercar that Richard Hammond had a huge crash in.

Then we have hybrids, of which there are three main types:

Firstly we have mild hybrids (MHEVs). In a mild hybrid the electric motor is always running to support the petrol or diesel engine, usually to improve fuel economy; it cannot power the car on its own.

Next up we have ‘full’ hybrids (HEVs). Unlike mild hybrids these can power the car for very short distances (around a mile) solely using the electric motor, and the rest of the time the car will use a combination of petrol and electricity depending on the type of driving you’re doing. Many people presume that hybrids were invented by Toyota, as the Toyota Prius is one of the most well known hybrids and was now launched over 20 years ago. Contrary to this popular belief, hybrids were not invented by Toyota, and actually date back to the late 19th Century!

Finally we have plug in hybrids (PHEVs). Unlike other hybrids, the electric motor can be used to power the vehicle completely on its own for a slightly longer distance, usually between 30 and 40 miles depending on the car. But unlike a full EV, they also benefit from the convenience of having a petrol or diesel engine alongside it.

But, after all of that, which type is best? Well that really depends on one final key question.

How are you going to use the vehicle?

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

John drives 20 miles to an office in Reading for work every morning. The office has recently had electric charging points installed in the car park. On a weekend, John sometimes drives up to the Lake District to visit his parents.

A plug-in hybrid would be great for John as he can charge his car at home and at work, meaning his regular commute will be done solely on electric power. But he would also have the convenience of a petrol or diesel engine for his longer drives up to the Lake District.

Jess, however, works in sales for a pharmaceutical company, and she is regularly driving long distances, all across the UK, on a day to day basis.

A ‘full’ or mild hybrid could be a great option for Jess; she doesn’t do a regular commute so wouldn’t benefit from a plug-in hybrid in the same way that John would, but she would greatly benefit from having improved fuel economy.

All of this brings me back to my initial question.

To EV or not to EV?

There are so many considerations to take into account when choosing which route is best, whether it be petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric, that it really is worth seeking some advice from a qualified petrolhead (I’m not entirely sure electrichead has quite the same ring to it just yet though).

Who do you know, who is trying to decide their answer to that question?

Steve Jewell is a Motoring Enthusiast, Mustang Nut, complete Petrolhead, and Professional Car Broker at UK Prestige Car Brokers working with clients across the Thames Valley and surrounding areas.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below or get in touch with Steve via email at or via social media @stevedjewell

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