Motorists have been slow to warm to electric cars, but they are beginning to make an impact on the car market and are becoming a more familiar sight on our roads. Electric cars have had a lot prove, needing to overcome negative stigmas that have become associated with them, such as being slow, expensive and liable to run out of battery after only a short distance.
A new generation of electric cars are beginning to prove these misconceptions wrong. Take the BMW i3 Concept Coupe, which goes on sale in the UK in July 2013. It’s beautifully designed, fast and can be recharged to 80% within an impressive 30 minutes. The BMW i3 is priced at the higher end of the range at £35,000 but you can buy cheaper cars which are technologically less superior to the i3, at a more affordable price of between £10,000 and £20,000. You will get a similar amount of distance out of them before they need recharging – about 100 miles – which, bearing in mind Department for Transport figures that say the average UK car journey is just seven miles, isn’t bad going.
One major worry for car buyers is that there aren’t enough charging points available to make an electric car a viable choice. Whilst they aren’t as prevalent as petrol stations, there are approximately 7,500 charging points around the country and the number is growing all the time. However, if you live out in the countryside do some research on your nearest charging points before you purchase an electric vehicle, as you may struggle to keep yourself topped up. Big cities are the best places to own an electric car: London now has 1145 charging points and Source London, the company behind the charge point network say more, are on the way.
The upfront price of an electric car has put many people off buying them. Some mid-sized electric cars start at £25,000 and more, but a petrol powered car of an equivalent size is valued at nearly half that price. Where it does start to make economic sense is in the running costs: battery powered vehicles are exempt from tax and can cost as little as 2p per mile to run. If you can afford the initial lump sum and you use your car enough, you may find that the maths start to work out in your favour. There are also the environmental benefits and, though the manufacture of electric vehicles is not very environmentally friendly, once the car is on the road it gives off zero emissions, which is valuable to our increasingly fragile planet.
Whilst not perfect, the electric vehicle is gaining traction in the car market and popularity amongst motorists. New technology and cleaner designs will produce better, and crucially, cheaper vehicles in the near future: a growing market of vehicles that will give the petrol model a very competitive run for its money. Alternatively, check out hybrid cars from BMW for a greener ride.