What are the pros and cons of switching to an electric car?


man uses charging dock for his electric vehicle

As part of the UK’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050, the government has said it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the year 2030, with a ban on new hybrid models following in 2035. This means that all factory-new vehicles on the market from 2035 will be fully electric.

However, the public will not be barred from using old petrol-fuelled cars, and you will still be able to buy and sell used petrol vehicles privately.

The electric vehicle revolution has already started taking shape in the UK. According to the Guardian, Britons bought more electric cars in 2021 than the previous five years combined, and electric cars made up 26% of car sales in December 2021 alone.

In fact, according to HeyCar there are an estimated 400,000 electric vehicles and 750,000 plug-in hybrids on UK roads as of January 2022.

So, other than the obvious argument surrounding emission levels, what are the pros and cons of owning an electric vehicle? Read on to find out.

3 positive reasons to own an electric vehicle

Help you save on tax and maintenance

Electric vehicles in the UK are exempt from congestion charges, Clean Air Zone charges, and vehicle tax. This could be important if you live near certain cities, like Birmingham, Manchester, or London, as it makes travelling through the city centres more affordable.

It is also possible that, as electric vehicles become more commonplace, insurance costs will be lower in comparison than a petrol equivalent. In fact, Which? reported that in Q1 of 2021, electric vehicles were £45 a year cheaper to insure on average.

Plus, electric vehicles tend to require less maintenance and fewer repair because they have fewer moving parts than cars with a traditional combustion engine. Less movement means less of an opportunity for damage.

Help you save on fuel costs

Perhaps the largest saving for electric vehicle owners is on fuel costs, as you no longer need to routinely fill up your tank. Petrol and diesel costs are rising quickly, and a full tank can cost more than £50, even for smaller vehicles.

Typically, the cost of charging an electric car is significantly cheaper than filling it up with petrol. Furthermore, some energy providers offer specific tariffs for electric vehicle drivers to help them with the cost of recharging their vehicle.

Figures from EDF Energy suggest that even if you only charge your vehicle at public charging spots, a full charge from a rapid charge point at the supermarket could cost less than £15. A full charge will take you about 200 miles, depending on the range of your vehicle.

You could get a government grant towards the cost

If you purchase a new electric vehicle, you may be able to benefit from the government grant that is available on eight different categories of vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, and vans.

Provided that the vehicle you wish to buy has been approved by the government (the full list of qualifying cars is available on the government website), you could benefit from a grant of up to £1,500. Qualifying cars must be 100% electric and cannot be valued at more than £32,000.

Electric vehicles have some downsides compared to petrol and diesel cars

Inconvenient to charge, depending on where you live

One of the main downsides of electric vehicles is that you can’t just charge them anywhere. If you live in or around larger cities, this isn’t such a problem, as many shopping centres or entertainment locations have charging points available.

But, if you live in the countryside or somewhere more remote, there are far fewer opportunities to charge your car.

According to Zap-Map, which frequently updates its database, there were 29,818 charging devices in 18,692 locations across the country, as of 7 March 2022. Almost 33% of the UK’s charging points were located in Greater London, while the whole of Wales had just 3.7% of the total.

Excluding the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, which have 0.3% and 0.2% respectively, the part of the UK with the fewest charging stations was Northern Ireland, with just 346 spread across the whole territory.

The initial purchase price can be significantly more expensive

In 2021, Which? looked at the initial price and upkeep costs of three electric cars and their petrol-fuelled equivalents. The company compared two Peugeot models and found that the electric versions were both between £5,000 and £7,000 more expensive.

Which? also compared two Mini models and found the electric version to be almost £10,000 more expensive than the petrol counterpart.

For both the Peugeot and Mini models, it was found that the electric vehicles were cheaper to run and maintain after the purchase, but it would take between six years to a decade to recoup the difference in initial cost.

An electric vehicle could be considered less fun to drive

Some people find electric vehicles to be less enjoyable to drive than traditional, petrol-fuelled cars. The lack of a roaring engine and lower levels of interactivity thanks to the removal of a gearbox does lessen the experience for those who enjoy the mechanics of driving.

For safety reasons, most electric vehicles produce fake engine noises while in motion, but it doesn’t imitate the real sounds of a combustion engine and doesn’t vibrate the car in the same way.