Petrol vs electric cars – The Pros and Cons

Logbook loans now available on electric cars!

There has been a recent flurry of interest in the media about electric cars.   The government announced in July that by 2040, all sales of new petrol and diesel cars will cease in the UK.  The main reason for this is as part of the overall strategy to tackle air pollution.  Electric cars produce zero-emissions and therefore have a much smaller environmental impact.

The announcement led to all kinds of speculation about how all these cars will be charged and what happens if you run out of charge mid-journey – not to mention how the government will recoup the tax they currently charge on petrol and diesel.

Lots of issues to consider, but many of us don’t know that much about electric cars.  So what is an electric car?  How do they work, and what are their advantages over petrol or diesel cars?

An electric car – properly known as battery electric vehicles or BEVs – runs on electricity instead of fuel.  The electricity is stored in a battery pack to power the electric motor and turn the wheels.   The battery needs to be recharged on a regular basis using grid electricity, obtained either from a dedicated charging unit or a power point.

Currently, electric cars account for less than 1% of new sales.  Examples of electric cars in the UK include the Tesla Model S, Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf.  Part of the caution in sales so far is that electric cars have been thought of as being quite expensive.  But surely this needs to change – particularly in light of the government’s plans?

Not surprisingly this trend is in fact changing.  As with any new product, as the technology develops, the cost is coming down.  For example you can now lease an electric Nissan Leaf for around £240 a month.  The cost of charging an electric car overnight is around £3-£4.  This can provide between 50-200 miles of driving, depending on the size of your battery.   When you compare this against the cost of petrol for someone who uses their car to commute each day – which could be anywhere upwards of around £80 a month –  the electric option begins to make financial sense.  Additionally electric cars do not pay Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) if they cost less than £40,000.

Another benefit of electric cars are that because they don’t have a clutch they can be operated by drivers who only possess an automatic-only licence – and are generally easier to operate than manual cars.   However, a drawback is that they currently have the reputation of being less powerful than their petrol equivalents. But they are slowly but surely catching up:  Tesla’s Model S can now generate a total of 762 horsepower (from dual electric motors), reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour, and move from 0-60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds.

Many drivers who have turned to electric cars are completely hooked.  According to Melanie Shufflebotham who runs NextGreenCar – a website dedicated to low-carbon vehicles – and owns a Nissan Leaf:  “Once you’ve got used to living with an electric car, most people say they’d never go back to a conventional one. You are driving the future.”

But what about the questions raised recently about charging?   There are currently over 4,500 locations with charging points around the UK, with new locations being added daily.   But this will need to keep increasing as we near 2040, and there will need to be on-demand access to power points to ensure everyone can charge as needed.

Also more efficient batteries will need to be developed  as it can currently take up to eight hours to charge an electric vehicle, enabling it then to travel between 50 and 200 miles between charges.  Despite this seemingly limited range, according to Tom Callow of Chargemaster – the UK’s largest provider of electric vehicle charging infrastructure – electric cars rarely run out of power mid journey:  “The reality is that once you start driving an electric car it is a different kind of culture. You are not filling up, you are topping up and you drive differently and top up when available.”

Electric cars alert drivers of the need to recharge in plenty of time, giving drivers a range or countdown.  This means that for long journeys, drivers need to plan ahead.   Electric cars are equipped with navigation systems that factor in charging points on the route.

There was also concern in the press about whether the National Grid will be able to cope with the increased demand from electric cars.  In fact it already seems to be strained at times by the current demands of charging electric vehicles.  The National Grid itself says that whilst electric vehicles could certainly drive large increases in peak power demand, it will be able to cope.  

One potential way of doing this is by the use of smart charging – intelligent control of when vehicles use electricity from the grid to avoid peaks and troughs.  This is a developing technology which could even also harness the energy of car batteries to return power to the grid to help balance demand.

So, a lot is changing and we will keep a careful eye on the development of electric cars.  But one thing is for sure, however car manufacturing and technology develop in future, Logbook Loans will be here to offer finance on all types of vehicles so that we can continue to helping our customers by releasing the cash in their vehicle.  

If you are interested in the financial products we offer at Logbook Loans then why not  get in touch with us today to find out more!