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Why Now is a Great Time to Buy an Electric Vehicle – A Guide to Buying One

The UK’s EV market is booming - with improvements in range, lower prices, and a rapidly expanding charging network. Not only are electric vehicles cheaper to run, but they’re also eco-friendly, increasingly fun and responsive to drive, and can future-proof your transport for years to come. We look at why now is a good time to buy an EV, benefits, and what to look out for when buying one.

guide to buying electric vehicle

Across the UK, thousands of new drivers every week are discovering the many benefits of EVs over conventional petrol and diesel cars.

As car manufacturers race to bring a range of new plug-in models to the market – and with the UK government investing more than a billion pounds in expanding the charging network ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars – EV ownership is set to only surge higher.

And despite 2022’s tough car market – with challenges such as the ongoing semiconductor shortage and the harsh economic headwinds of rising inflation, energy and fuel costs – this March recorded the highest number of EV registrations ever in a single month.


So why is now such a good time to buy an EV?

An immediate answer would have to include the fact that EV drivers are mostly insulated from the massive fluctuations in petrol and diesel costs – caused largely by continued uncertainty over the invasion of Ukraine – that have made driving so costly.

But then there are other factors. Among them, the introduction of cheaper models; seismic improvements in vehicle range and choice; and, not least, the latest studies showing both the dangers of air pollution and record-levels of CO2, that make zero-emission vehicles such an imperative alternative to ICE (internal combustion engine) models.


Guide for drivers – the benefits of EVs

Environmental benefits

Transport is the largest CO2-emitting sector in the UK, responsible for 27% of emissions. Even with the production of Lithium-Ion batteries and electricity needed to power them, EVs are significantly better for the environment than ICE vehicles.

Given the UK’s current electricity mix, carbon emissions from EVs are about 30% less than conventional fossil fuel cars – and almost negligible when charged using renewable energy, such as that produced by Mer owners Statkraft.


Cost of Ownership

Consumer demand for increased range and lower prices has led to a multiplying range of EV models, covering all budgets and needs.

Prices range from £16,850 for a new Smart Fortwo EQ to more than £150,000 for the Mercedes-AMG EQS-53.

And although EVs are still comparatively expensive, this is largely due to the cost of manufacturing battery-packs – a cost that is falling all the time. In fact, if the price to produce batteries continues to tumble, EVs could be cheaper than petrol and diesel cars for consumers by 2027.

guide to buying electric vehicle

Once bought (or leased) the cost of running an EV is generally cheaper than petrol and diesel cars, due to a range of factors such as lower refuel costs, cheaper maintenance, and a raft of grants and exemptions.

Taking these into account, Direct Line has calculated the annual running costs for EVs to be an average of £1,742 (or £33.50 a week) compared to £2,205 per year (£42.40 a week) for ICE vehicles – making EVs 21% cheaper to run

Let’s look at some of these a little closer here:

  • Cheaper to refuel – It’s estimated that fully charging an EV at home will cost just a few pounds – significantly less than filling up with petrol and diesel. Although costs vary using public and rapid chargers – and there are reductions for signing up to  charging networks like Mer’s – refuel costs are still around a tenth of that for ICE vehicles.
  • Cheaper to maintain – Maintenance costs are estimated to run around 40% less for EVs because there are fewer components and drivers can bypass things like oil changes and spark plug replacements. EVs are lighter on tyres and brakes due to regenerative braking – so wear and tear is reduced.
  • More energy efficient – EVs are generally three times more energy-efficient than petrol and diesel cars, mostly because 40-60% of ICE vehicle’s energy is lost to heat and friction. Increased efficiency translates to reduced costs.
  • EV exemptions – Electric Vehicles are exempt from the congestion charge in central London and the capital’s Ultra-low Emission Zone charges – a collective saving of £27.50 a day.
  • Road Tax / Insurance – Pure EVs are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (Road tax). Although insurance costs are marginally higher for zero-emission cars – due to higher cost prices – this is expected to fall and EV drivers themselves are considered lower risk.
  • Other tax benefits – Many businesses are now offering their employees to lease an EV via a salary sacrifice scheme (enabling employees to list their vehicle as a business expense and pay less tax). And business users pay zero benefit in kind (BIK) company car tax on pure EVs.
  • Comfort and driveability – EVs are famously quieter and smoother to run, with most models surprisingly quick in acceleration. The lower centre of gravity allows for improved handling, responsiveness and – due to increased internal passenger space – greater comfort.


Battery shelf-life

Most EVs use Lithium-Ion batteries, which degrade and become less effective over hundreds of charge / use-cycles. However, recent studies show this degradation is small, at around 2.3% a year. And that drivers can expect ten years and more – or 100,000+ miles of use – making the lifespan similar to a conventional petrol or diesel model.

There are also ways to reduce battery degradation – such as keeping charge between 20-80% and avoiding very aggressive acceleration and extreme temperatures. So decline in battery capacity – especially given the rapid evolution of battery innovation  – should not now be a major concern for most EV owners.

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