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Electric vehicles – your future?
Whilst we have been on lockdown, it may have passed you by, but we have entered a new tax year and with that, we now enter a period where company car drivers and fleet operators choosing an electric car will benefit from zero tax on Benefit In Kind (BIK) during 2020/2021. So I have spent some time reviewing whether buying an electric car now makes sense and whether it is just a computer on wheels or is a must as your next car purchase.
Sales of Electric Vehicles (EV)
Figures produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows that Electric Vehicles in their various guises are already starting to gain greater market share, but what are the pros and what are the cons?
1. Company car drivers - Zero percent BIK for year one, increasing to 1% in 2021/2022 and 2% in 2022/2023. So, if you are seeking a new company car then this is a big benefit! For example
2. Road tax - Now that vehicle road tax is based on carbon dioxide emissions, pure electric cars are exempt from first-year road tax meaning it’s free to tax them
3. Acceleration – out of this world! Something that I discovered when I drove an electric car for the first time. For example, the Tesla Model 3 long-range can do 0 – 60 mph in just over 4 seconds which is similar to a Porsche 911 Carrera S – but without the noise!
4. Environmentally friendly – I think that as we have seen with the reduction in greenhouse gases over the lockdown period, nature has been breathing a huge sigh of relief and we have seen significant improvements in the air quality experienced in major towns and cities across the world. Just imagine if all our towns and cities contained only electric vehicles. A graph provided by Defra highlights the impact of lockdown and cars not being on the road
5. Noise – they are like silent assassins. For those people living in built-up areas, or next to busy roads how nice would it be for the traffic to be almost silent. A good night’s sleep is guaranteed!!
Range anxiety – driving an electric vehicle does require a greater level of planning. The charging infrastructure across the UK is improving rapidly and the government has committed to a future whereby every household will be within 30 miles of an electric vehicles charging point. This is to be achieved through £500m investment in a “fast charging network” (https://www.ukbudget.com/press-releases-2020/chancellor-accelerates-electric-vehicle-adoption-with-500m-charge-point-investment.aspx) however there is still a concern from people that they are going to be stuck on a motorway having run out of electricity. Battery capacity is improving significantly and an interesting article regarding this can be found at realclearscience.com. There is a battery that is under development which could see a full charge within ten minutes. Now that is a game-changer. https://www.realclearscience.com/quick_and_clear_science/2019/10/30/new_lithium_ion_battery_design_could_allow_electric_vehicles_to_be_charged_in_ten_minutes.html
Price – With Electric Vehicles in their various guises (PHEW, BEV, MHEV etc) being relatively new to the market, a huge amount of investment has been poured into developing the technology and the production lines to make them. So, the headline cost of buying an electric vehicle makes it look more expensive. But it is still worth doing your research to see what the overall running costs and “all-in costs” of your new vehicle will be.
Lack of choice – The Internal Combustion Engine market is very mature and the choice is, seemingly, endless. All major manufacturers now have a varying number of Electric Vehicle models available however the choice is not as vast as the ICE world. The EV world is catching up fast but maybe not fast enough for your immediate purchase.
Computer on wheels – I was speaking with someone a few weeks ago and they said that electric cars are just computer’s on wheels. Whilst appreciating that the number of moving parts on the motor vehicle is reducing dramatically, the technology that is being packed into an electric vehicle is greatly enhanced. For example, Tesla can send updates out over the internet so by the time you come out to your vehicle it could be 5% faster! So, if you are a car “purist” and love the mechanical side of the vehicle then perhaps an electric car is not for you. But if you love your tech, then it could well be!
So, in summary, at this point in time, Electric cars are not going to be for everyone, however with the government's ambition to invest in green energy sources and move us all into Electric vehicles then I think we can avoid Electric cars in the short term but in the long term, we will need to make the move. When the time comes to get your next vehicle then make sure you do your research as the Electric world is just around the corner, so now might be the time to embrace it.