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Are Electric Cars a Realistic Option?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 5 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Electric Cars Hybrid Fossil Fuel

Electric cars are one of the green options available to motorists. With fuel prices hitting record highs the electric car may be a realistic and inexpensive alternative to petrol driven motors.

The Rising Cost of Driving in the UK

It seems as if driving in the UK comes with an ever increasing amount of expenses. Value Added Tax, insurance costs and of course fuel prices are all continually increasing. The average cost of running a car in the UK is just under £3000 per year and this does not look set to decrease. Fuel is now a major expense and is responsible for over a third of the annual running cost of a car. Car manufacturers are looking for viable alternatives to fossil fuel and the electric car may be the answer. But there are disadvantages to the greener option that does put customers off buying.

The Difference between a Hybrid and Electric Car

There are numerous hybrid cars on the market with the most popular being the Toyota Prius. Hybrids use combustion engines to power an electric motor with a rechargeable energy source. Hybrid cars still use fossil fuel but are greener as they have improved fuel economy and have reduced emission levels. Electric cars use rechargeable batteries to power an electric motor with batteries charged by simply plugging into household electricity. Electric cars rely solely on electricity unlike the hybrid which needs petrol to power the electric motor.

The Advantages of Owning an Electric Car

The running costs of an electric car are the biggest advantage. Electric cars can simply be plugged into an electricity mains socket and recharged. Electric cars previously needed very long recharging periods but with the improvements to the batteries this is no longer the case. The speed available with electric cars has been improving, and the Nissan Leaf will be capable of speeds of just under 100 mph. Electric cars cost less to operate, reduce the need for oil, are healthier for the environment and require less maintenance than traditional vehicles.

The Disadvantages of Electric Cars

Electric cars are still a new technology and that means high purchasing costs. The Nissan Leaf is expected to come in at just over £28,000 to buy and even with the reduced fuel costs it will take three years to recover the buying costs. Recharging times will still take longer when compared to simply filling up a tank with petrol. Another problem may be that recharging at UK garages and fuel stations is limited at the moment. Electric cars will run for around 100 miles on one charge which can be irritating for long distance drivers.

The Limitations of an Electric Car

There are some limitations for those considering the purchase of an electric car. Choice at the moment is very limited although most car manufacturers are looking into this type of alternative to fossil fuel. Speed limits may be a concern for some but at 92 mph electric cars are still above the national UK speed limit. The battery as a power source is of course the main limitation in most people’s minds. The fact that it takes time to recharge and the driving range of the car from one charge is a distinct downside for some drivers.

Electric Car Price Comparison

The electric car is a winner when it comes to a comparison with the fuel costs of a petrol driven car. The Nissan Leaf electric car running costs are a tiny one pence per mile. Charging up an electric car will cost between one and two pence using a domestic electricity supply. Another financial advantage is that there is no road tax to pay for electric car owners. Electric car owners in London will also be exempt from the congestion charge, which can bring a saving of around £1000 per year. Manufacturers claim that electric cars will however depreciate quicker and insurance can by higher due to the risk of theft of the rechargeable batteries.

The government has announced that they will offer a £5000 grant to anyone who is intending to buy an electric car. Even with this grant electric car buyers may be put off by the car’s price tag. But electric cars could be a very realistic option when it comes to fuel running costs. When the UK does become ready for the electric car it may be a very cost effective motoring option to petrol fuelled cars.

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