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Buying an electric carBack

They were once seen as slow and unattractive but with 0-60 times that can rival supercars electric cars are fast becoming more attractive to consumers.

Many electric vehicles are now much more flexible than they used to be, with some offering a 300-mile range and there are even some seven-seater models.

There are just over 90,000 fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars on UK roads, with the Nissan Leaf the world’s biggest-selling electric car.

Last week saw some big changes in the market: Volvo announced it will only launch electric or hybrid cars from 2019 and Emmanuel Macron’s new government pledged that France will ban diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the proportion of fully electric new cars sold in the UK will be one in 12 by 2030 – up from one in every 200 today.

So if you’re thinking about ditching petrol and diesel in favour of electric, here’s what you need to consider:

1. Electric or plug-in hybrid?

This will be your main decision. Purely electric cars have no combustion engine, only an on-board electric battery which provides power through an re-chargeable electric motor, charged through an electricity supply. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are part battery and part conventional cars. Like electric cars, plug-in hybrids can be charged from an electricity supply and driven like an electric car, or the on board engine can be used if the electric battery is depleted.

Purely electric cars have a reduced range but are cheaper to run because they only use electricity.

2. Get a grant.

It is widely recognised that electric cars are more expensive to buy than their diesel and petrol counterparts, but since 2011, the government has offered buyers of electric vehicles and PHEVs a grant.
The plug-in car grants are awarded in three categories and currently cover 35 per cent of the cost of a car, up to a maximum of £4,500 depending on its CO2 emissions and electric-only range. Only cars that can travel 70 miles or more on battery alone (and have CO2 figures under 50g/km) qualify for the full £4,500 grant.

3. Charging an electric car

When you buy an electric car, it’s recommended that you install a dedicated vehicle charging socket at your home. A 32 amp unit can charge up to 30-60 per cent faster than a conventional socket. Government grants are available towards the cost of having a charging point installed in or near to your home.

4. Know where electric charge points are 
The number of electric charging points has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to more than 9,500. If you need to locate an electric charge point whilst on the move, there are a number of websites, such as which map out the various publicly accessible charging points across the UK. This includes on-street charging points in city centres, high-voltage fast-chargers and rapid-chargers at service stations on the motorway network.
Is there a charging point where you work? If you have a long commute, having a charging point at work could be essential. Before you buy an electric car, always check that your frequent journeys are feasible.

5. No car tax for electric cars
Electric cars are exempt from car tax  and will be unaffected by the upcoming changes to car tax law as long as they have zero emissions. However, if the car costs more than £40,000, the owner will be required to pay £310 per year for years two to six.

6. Consider the range.  The maximum ranges vary greatly between models. For example, Nissan estimates the Nissan Leaf will go for 155 miles on a full charge, whereas the more expensive Tesla Model S has an estimated maximum range of around 270 miles.

7. How much boot space do you need?
The huge batteries in electric cars and hybrids are usually in the boot so make sure you check the boot is big enough for your needs before you buy.

8. A different driving experience
The most noticeable difference when you’re driving an electric car is the lack of noise. Another difference to take into account when you drive is how quickly electric cars accelerate.

Posted by Beth Rose on 11/07/2017