'My Tesla costs £20 to charge and has wi-fi': With the Government set to end
production of new petrol and diesel cars by it time to go ELECTRIC
16 September 2017  Sally Hamilton

Saving: Businessman John Quinn is a proud owner of a £90,000 Tesla Model S

video  flash

There are more than 355,000 electric cars on Britain’s roads. Whether pure
electric, plug-in hybrid or a hybrid where electric takes just some of the
load, they account for about 5 per cent of new vehicle sales.

But these numbers are set to spiral as manufacturers power ahead with new
models against the background of a Government commitment to end the
production of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

The revolution has been more than 100 years in the making – as long as the
electric car’s nemesis, the internal combustion engine ...

Businessman John Quinn is a proud owner of a Tesla Model S that takes him
285 miles on a single charge. The car does not come cheap – he paid about
£90,000 – even with the Government’s £4,500 discount. John, 62, from
Hampshire, has owned the car for six months and is already making savings. 

He says: ‘It costs me roughly £20 to fully charge compared to £100 to fill
up my previous car, a Bentley convertible, for the same mileage.’ 

He adds: ‘With no road tax or congestion charge when I drive to London and
free use of Tesla Superchargers at motorway services I am already seeing
cost savings. 

'I go to Swansea once a week, some 180 miles. I tend to stop for a coffee at
the services on the way back, plug the car in and have enough charge to get
me home. The cost of a round trip is about £20, compared with £140 in my

John says his insurance bill is about the same as for the Bentley. He says:
‘It’s green and it’s fast – doing nought to 60 in less than three seconds –
and it comes with advanced technology such as free wi-fi. I love the idea of
electric – we will all adopt it in time.’

In 1897, the London Electrical Cab company deployed a fleet of electric cars
in the capital. These were powered by batteries with a 50-mile range between
charges. But the firm struggled with technical issues and opposition from
horse-drawn cabbies and closed down before the 19th Century was out.

The motor industry renewed efforts to electrify as long ago as the 1960s.
Sir Clive Sinclair tried to popularise the vehicles in the mid-1980s with
his infamous C5. A big turning point came in 1997 with the launch of the
Toyota Prius hybrid car in Japan. Since then most manufacturers have been
investing in electric and hybrid options.

Jaguar’s chief executive said recently: ‘One thing is clear, the future is
electric’, as he announced that by 2020 the luxury car maker would produce
only electric or hybrid cars.

Volvo has made a similar pledge for 2019 while Tesla, the company that has
made electric a desirable option even for some diehard petrolheads, will
soon launch its more affordable Model 3 – at $35,000 (£26,400).

Competition is increasing but there are snags as well as benefits.

FINANCIAL INCENTIVES: Apart from the warm feeling of saving the planet and
reducing health risks, green-minded motorists receive financial
encouragement to buy. Government discounts help lighten the hefty purchase
prices – cutting them by £4,500 for fully electric and £2,500 for certain
hybrid plug-in models under £60,000. Some dealers also offer eye-catching
finance deals and may throw in free charging. Owners can also apply for a
grant of up to £500 on the purchase of a dedicated home charger, reducing
the bill to between £200 and £300.

LOW RUNNING COSTS: A charge of 100 miles costs between £2 and £4 in
electricity. This compares to between £12 and £15 for petrol and diesel for
the same distance, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Savings are greatest when charging overnight at home using a low-rate
electricity tariff. Energy suppliers are courting this market.

Ecotricity lets customers use its network of motorway chargers without
paying the usual £3 connection charge. Ovo Energy allows customers access to
the Polar Plus network free for 12 months (usually £7.85 a month). Good
Energy has a cheaper home tariff for electric car owners.

TAX SAVINGS: Purchase a pure electric car for less than £40,000 and there is
no vehicle excise duty to pay. Owners of plug-in hybrids must pay £130 a
year from the second year onwards. Electric cars and some hybrid models are
also exempt from the £11.50 London congestion charge.

Employees with low emission cars obtained through an employer’s salary
sacrifice arrangement get tax and employer National Insurance advantages.
They also pay a lower ‘benefit in kind’ tax on the perk.

These are offered by many local authorities.

HIGH UPFRONT COSTS: Owners can pay thousands of pounds more to buy an
electric car compared to a conventional motor, even with the Government

Colin McKerracher, of research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says
plug-in battery prices explain the higher cost. He adds: ‘The battery pack
makes up between 30 and 40 per cent of the car price. But costs are falling
fast. By 2030 we expect the battery to represent 18 per cent of the total.’

CHARGING CHALLENGES: Depending on the car and battery, a single charge lasts
between 100 and 300 miles at most – a worry when on long journeys. Charging
points can be hard to come by and recharging can take 30 minutes for a rapid
charge or several hours for a slow charge.

LIMITED PUBLIC CHARGERS: There are about 13,000 charging points (1,100 are
rapid versions) in 5,000 locations in the UK, provided by different
networks, according to website Zap-Map.

Availability is increasing with local authorities and businesses
incentivised to install charging points ...

Destinations such as the National Trust, hotel chains and supermarkets are
investing heavily. Employers can also apply for grants towards installing
chargers in the workplace.

Melanie Shufflebotham, director of Zap-Map, which provides a map of charging
points via its app, says: ‘Charging is getting easier. One company is
installing them in lampposts.’

DIFFERENT RATES: Some networks or charge points within networks are free but
for others there is a usage fee on top of the electricity tariff. Energy
company Ecotricity, the main provider of charging points at motorway
services, charges about 17p per unit of energy. There is a £3 connection fee
for each session – waived for its home energy customers.

INSURANCE: Pure electric cars cost more to insure – on average £330 more
than for a standard car, according to website comparethemarket.

The higher premiums reflect the scarcity of electric cars, their higher
upfront cost and the use of battery technology that requires specialist

The cost of insuring a fancy Tesla will naturally be greater than for a
modest Nissan Leaf, the best selling electric car, due to the materials and
the profile of the typical owner.

Simon McCulloch, director at website comparethemarket, says that the higher
insurance cost can be enough to swing an undecided buyer back towards buying
a petrol or diesel model.

This hurdle will diminish as electric vehicle sales grow.

1. Compare prices: Use an online comparison service to do the hard work for

Put in your details and check the prices that come up. You can alter the
excess that you are willing to pay and the mileage you will drive and get
new quotes. 

Also check the insurers that don't feature in comparison sites, the big two
are Direct Line and Aviva. This is Money's car insurance search is powered
by MoneySupermarket and will search more than 130 insurers for you. Try it
out here.

2. Haggle! The car insurance market is notoriously competitive. Once you've
been on This Is Money's comparison and found your cheapest price (below),
get on the phone and start bargaining!

3. Avoid paying monthly charges: Direct debit installments generally come
hand-in-hand with high interest rates. 

An alternative is to borrow the money on a 0 per cent purchase credit card
and then clear it within a year ...

4. Think outside the box: An accelerated no-claims bonus, such as Admiral's
Bonus Accelerator, could give you a year's no claims bonus after just 10

5. Named drivers and friends and family: If you have previously been insured
as an additional driver on another policy, see if you can transfer a no
claims bonus to your own insurance coverage. 

Some insurers do this, including The AA and Direct Line  . Try for a
discount by insuring two or more vehicles between friends or family members
with the same firm.

Go Ultra Low is a Government and industry initiative to encourage greater
take-up of electric cars. 

Through its website buyers can arrange a test-drive of a wide range of
electric cars.

Road organisation the AA runs a scheme offering free driving sessions
designed to help drivers understand electric vehicles. 

They are held at the Electric Vehicle Experience Centre in Milton Keynes,
Buckinghamshire [UK].
[© Associated Newspapers]
Wi-Fi or WiFi is a technology for wireless local area networking with
devices based on the IEEE 802.11 standards. Wi-Fi is a trademark of the
Wi-Fi Alliance ... Introduced: September 1998 ... Compatible hardware:
Mobile phones, personal computers, gaming consoles, televisions ... Parent
company: Wi-Fi Alliance

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