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Should you get an electric car?

Should you get an electric car?

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Well, that's one way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Well, that's one way to reduce your carbon emissions and a reliance on fossil fuels.

Should you get an electric car?
There’s been a lot of recent coverage on the take up of electric vehicles (EVs). Despite a steep decline in the number of cars sold since the start of the pandemic, global sales of EVs increased by 43% in 2020, and the UK is predicted to reach a tipping point whereby it will be cheaper to buy an EV than a petrol fueled car sometime between 2023 and 2025. One of the main reasons for this shift is the declining cost of batteries, which at the same time are becoming more advanced.

January 2021 saw the production for the first time of car batteries that only take five minutes to charge — so roughly the same time it would take you to fill up your car with fuel, pay and make a detour to the snack aisle of the petrol station to weigh up the wisdom of an impromptu purchase of a packet of Quavers. So, if you’re considering making the leap to electric, what should you consider?

Getting started

Here in the UK, the choice is almost endless as all the established car brands – from Nissan to BMW – have at least one electric model, often up to four or five different ones. And then of course you have the electric-only brand Tesla which has created an electric revolution. The models range in price from £16 995 (Peugeot Ion and Citröen C Zero) to £150 000 (Tesla Roadster). And with the government announcing a ban on new fossil fuel burning vehicles by 2030, alongside moderate yet still useful subsidies such as the Plug In Car Grant which could save you up to £3000, buying an EV seems like an increasingly sustainable choice for both your wallet and the planet.

Charging and the battery debate

Some years ago, tracking down charging stations could be tricky, but as the number of electric cars on our roads is increasing, so too are the number of chargers. And although an EV demands a bit more planning when driving longer distances, apps such as Zap Map make it fairly easy to plan your fast charging pit stop.

And whilst many public areas, such as supermarkets, shopping centres and public car parks, now have charging points, the safest option is to install a small charging station at your home. This can be done for around £500, which the opportunity of up to £350 discount if you are eligible for an OLEV government grant.

The biggest argument against electric cars is the manufacturing process of their batteries, in terms of both pollution and ethics. As with smartphones, there is a range of rare earth metals like cobalt involved in the composition, and their extraction and manipulation contribute to carbon emissions. Still, when you take the EV’s lifespan into account, the emissons will be considerably lower than a fossil-fuelled car. In addition, news that the energy company Fortum has successfully started recycling used car batteries is definitely a gamechanger.

What to do if it’s not for you

If the entry fee or maintenance of an EV is too much to take on, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint during your daily commute. Can you bike or walk to work? Being outdoors as much as possible is a great way to keep fit and also of avoiding the coronavirus. Regarding public transport, many of us have several options and the buses, trains, trams and ferries are all taking precautions these days.

If for practical reasons you still need to use a car, try to keep driving to a minimum by using a car pooling app once we return to non-socially distanced times. And in the meantime, if your car needs are occasional, you can rent private cars in your area through local and national car clubs, such as Co-wheels, while we wait for the price of EVs to inevitably drop further.

There’s been a lot of recent coverage on the take up of electric vehicles (EVs). Despite a steep decline in the number of cars sold since the start of the pandemic, global sales of EVs increased by 43% in 2020, and the UK is predicted to reach a tipping point whereby it will be cheaper to buy an EV than a petrol fueled car sometime between 2023 and 2025. One of the main reasons for this shift is the declining cost of batteries, which at the same time are becoming more advanced.

January 2021 saw the production for the first time of car batteries that only take five minutes to charge — so roughly the same time it would take you to fill up your car with fuel, pay and make a detour to the snack aisle of the petrol station to weigh up the wisdom of an impromptu purchase of a packet of Quavers. So, if you’re considering making the leap to electric, what should you consider?

Getting started

Here in the UK, the choice is almost endless as all the established car brands – from Nissan to BMW – have at least one electric model, often up to four or five different ones. And then of course you have the electric-only brand Tesla which has created an electric revolution. The models range in price from £16 995 (Peugeot Ion and Citröen C Zero) to £150 000 (Tesla Roadster). And with the government announcing a ban on new fossil fuel burning vehicles by 2030, alongside moderate yet still useful subsidies such as the Plug In Car Grant which could save you up to £3000, buying an EV seems like an increasingly sustainable choice for both your wallet and the planet.

Charging and the battery debate

Some years ago, tracking down charging stations could be tricky, but as the number of electric cars on our roads is increasing, so too are the number of chargers. And although an EV demands a bit more planning when driving longer distances, apps such as Zap Map make it fairly easy to plan your fast charging pit stop.

And whilst many public areas, such as supermarkets, shopping centres and public car parks, now have charging points, the safest option is to install a small charging station at your home. This can be done for around £500, which the opportunity of up to £350 discount if you are eligible for an OLEV government grant.

The biggest argument against electric cars is the manufacturing process of their batteries, in terms of both pollution and ethics. As with smartphones, there is a range of rare earth metals like cobalt involved in the composition, and their extraction and manipulation contribute to carbon emissions. Still, when you take the EV’s lifespan into account, the emissons will be considerably lower than a fossil-fuelled car. In addition, news that the energy company Fortum has successfully started recycling used car batteries is definitely a gamechanger.

What to do if it’s not for you

If the entry fee or maintenance of an EV is too much to take on, there are still things to do to reduce your carbon footprint during your daily commute. Can you bike or walk to work? Being outdoors as much as possible is a great way to keep fit and also of avoiding the coronavirus. Regarding public transport, many of us have several options and the buses, trains, trams and ferries are all taking precautions these days.

If for practical reasons you still need to use a car, try to keep driving to a minimum by using a car pooling app once we return to non-socially distanced times. And in the meantime, if your car needs are occasional, you can rent private cars in your area through local and national car clubs, such as Co-wheels, while we wait for the price of EVs to inevitably drop further.

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