Before we get down to the nitty gritty, let's talk about the what's what. There are 3 main types of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and it's important to understand the differences.
Three Types of Electric Car
First and foremost, we have BEV, or Battery Electric Vehicles. Think Tesla X and Y, Nissan LEAF, Hyundia Ioniq, and Toyota Rav4. These are "pure" electric vehicles, that draw all of their power from their batteries and electric motors and must be plugged in to recharge.
Then we have HEV, or Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Examples include the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, and Ford Mondeo Hybrid (the clue is in the name). A modern combination of a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric system is how these electric cars work. The engine performs a generator function which either recharges the car's battery or directly powers the electric motors. Kinetic energy from braking is also used to recharge the battery.
Finally, there are PHEV, which stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Popular models include BMW i8, Fiat 500e, Mini Cooper SE Countryman, and the infamous Toyota Prius. As you may have guessed, these cars are HEV with the ability to plug-in. They run on petrol, with enough electric charge to give you up to 50 miles of electric-only driving. This allows drivers to make the most of both worlds: running on electric for short distances, with the peace of mind that longer journeys can be made quite easily by refuelling.
So, now that we know the distinction between BEV, HEV and PHEV... which is the best electric car for 2021? Are any of them worth the investment?
How Much Do Electric Cars Cost?
It's no secret, electric cars are not the cheapest option when it comes to selecting your new vehicle. Whilst the upfront cost is higher than a conventional car, it's important to remember that the fuel savings you will continue to benefit from over its lifetime will leave some serious long-term cash in your pocket.
The average cost of a new car, in the small category, is £12,000 - £17,000. Considering you can pick up an electric car for a little over £20,000, and the average person in the UK spends over £1,200 per year on fuel, that extra few thousand-pound outlay may just be worth it.
The Skoda Citigo-e and Smart EQ Fortwo EV are a couple of fantastic choices at this price level, though they are geared (pun intended) towards city use due to their short range.
How to Maintain an Electric Car
A huge money and time-saving bonus with BEVs is that they require very little maintenance. In part, this is due to the lack of fluids such as coolant and oil that would need replacing or flushing in an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). Added to that, BEV owners don't need to worry about replacing air filters, spark plugs, or timing belts.
It's worth noting that PHEV and HEV have petrol engines as well as their electric counterparts, so they will need routine maintenance like a traditional vehicle. That being said, the wear and tear on the ICE is reduced through support from the electric system, so you can expect the maintenance schedule on your PHEV or PEV to be less regular.
The battery in EVs requires very minimal maintenance, though it is worth noting that it can be expensive to replace at the end of its life. The warrantees vary greatly from brand to brand. Generally, larger capacity batteries are given around 100,000 miles or 8 years under warrantee.
All-in-all, the cost of servicing and maintaining an EV is thought to equal roughly a third of what needs to be spent on a conventionally powered vehicle.
Electric Cars and Carbon Emissions
One of the most obvious and important consequences of making the switch to EVs is reducing your carbon footprint. The polluting impact that transport has on our planet continues to cause damage to the natural environment as well as our own health. The issues of climate change, global warming and toxic air quality are at the forefront of humanity's collective mind.
The latest figures, provisional estimates from the UK government, show Co2 production from petrol last year was 119.6 million tonnes. The UK's target is to reach net zero for these dangerous greenhouse gasses by 2050. Whilst there is a huge focus on offsetting methods, such as tree planting and carbon capture, the reality is that we must all do our part in drastically reducing emissions on an individual level.
The power that electric vehicles run on can be generated from renewable sources, such as wind or solar. Using clean energy in place of fossil fuels can help to preserve not just our future, but the future of generations to come. In that sense, it's a hard case to argue that EVs are not worth it.
Electric Cars: Final Verdict
Purchasing an electric car certainly comes with some serious considerations, such as where you will be driving it, what kind of battery you need, and whether regular home charging fits into your daily routine.
Despite the apparent complications of using an electrical vehicle, it seems clear that the pros outweigh the cons, and will continue to do so exponentially as the technology advances and becomes cheaper. More charging points and wider variety in vehicle models and styles are just a couple of planned progressions that will make owning a EV all the more convenient in the UK. You'll save money on fuel and maintenance, save time on servicing, and simultaneously do your part in looking after this small blue planet we call home.
Electric vehicles, are indeed, worth it.