The government intends to ban the sale of new cars and vans powered entirely by petrol and diesel by 2030, and to ban the sale of new hybrid vehicles by 2035. From then onwards, new cars and vans sold in the UK must be fully electric. If you intend upon keeping your current car or any car that you will buy before 2030, it is likely you will see increased taxation to encourage you to change to an electric vehicle.
There are currently no plans to prevent or limit the sale of second-hand petrol and diesel vehicles, which will remain on the roads for many years, even decades, to come – even though you may have to pay more in road or vehicle taxes.
Hybrids offer a combination of an electric motor and a combustion engine (usually petrol-powered). The combustion engine charges the car’s battery with the electric motor kicking in when extra power is needed, for example during acceleration when your car uses most fuel.
Both electric and hybrid cars are types of electric vehicle – so the difference is really between a hybrid car and an all-electric car. An all-electric or zero-emission car is powered entirely by electricity and has one or more electric motors. A hybrid car has both an electric motor and a conventional petrol or diesel engine.
This type of electric car does not have a combustion engine. The wheels are powered by the electric motors at all times.
Battery electric vehicles are the most common type (BEV). These have a large ‘traction battery’ that you charge by plugging into an electric source – and they are capable of generating some electricity through braking.
Fuel cell electric vehicles are less common and use hydrogen which combines with oxygen in the air in a fuel cell which produces electricity to power the care.
Hybrid cars work by having both a battery-powered electric motor and a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine. Most are able to drive using electric only (zero emissions) but how far depends on the size of the battery and whether you need to plug in to recharge. To get the best out of a hybrid, you would ideally use electric for short journeys and in urban areas and use the combustion engine for long journeys or if your battery is low on charge.
These are sometimes called electrified vehicles or battery assisted hybrid vehicles. They use an electric motor and battery to assist the combustion engine but have no zero-emission (electric only) capability.
There are different types of these – series and parallel. They're all capable of some zero-emission (electric only) driving, and many qualify as ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). You can't charge HEV batteries externally. Instead, they rely on electricity generated by braking, cruising and the petrol or diesel engine.
These have bigger batteries and can be plugged in to charge externally. PHEVs offer a longer, more practical zero-emissions (electric-only) range than HEVs. Depending on your lifestyle, you might find that you only use the combustion engine for occasional longer journeys.
The wheels are driven directly by electric motors and the battery can be charged by plugging in. But REEVs also have a small combustion engine. It runs a generator that produces electricity, so you can drive longer journeys without having to plug-in. They can be driven in 'electric only' mode.
It is important to note that hybrids need more maintenance than all-electric cars because the different components need to be balanced. Hybrids are less efficient in cold weather and can be challenging to repair.
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In November 2020, the Prime Minister announced that all new petrol and diesel cars (that is cars with internal combustion engines) will be banned from sale in 2030. Of course, there will be second hand petrol or diesel cars on the roads for many years after this.
The government has said hybrids that offer “significant” zero-emission range can remain on sale until 2035, but hasn’t clarified what that range is, or if there will be different rules for the various types of hybrid vehicle, such as mild, plug-in and full hybrids. How this eventually works will be “defined through consultation,” the government says. Many UK makers are now producing hybrid cars so this is an important consideration.
Initially when the Government outlined its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy in 2018, it said only hybrid cars capable of covering 50 miles or more using electric power alone would remain on sale beyond the deadline and, at that time, 98% of hybrid cars on sale would fail to meet that rule.
The average cost of an electric car in the UK is around £44,000 but prices range from around £17,500 to £140,000 and more. Luxury cars such as Tesla, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes - which are also the fastest electric cars – could set you back about £80,000 on average whilst a non-luxury electric car costs around £27,000 on average.
Electric cars are expensive because of the materials and the construction processes as well as the expensive research and development costs that have gone into designing these vehicles.
Although all-electric cars tend to be more expensive to buy, they can travel up to three times further than the petrol or diesel cars for the same money according to research by www.motoringresearch.com. Cars like the Kia e-Niro and Renault Zoe 65kW are very efficient achieving 33.1 per £1 of electricity. The Tesla Model 3 standard provides 32.3 miles per £1 of electricity, the Volkswagen e-Golf 30.8 miles and the BMC i3 – 30 miles.
A hybrid car is most effective at saving money when journeys are short and its possible to rely on the small electric battery for the majority of the journey. But certainly hybrid cars are more efficient than conventional petrol/diesel cars.
As a general guide, based on real life testing, in 2022, if you’re charging your car at home, you’re likely to pay the following amounts if you want to cover 9,000 miles in an all-electric car:
Full details on how much it might cost to charge an electric car can be found here.
Various businesses and attractions, retail parks and regular car parks offer free charging – but supermarkets are the most likely place. At the end of 2021, there were over 1,000 free charging points across supermarkets alone. Tesco has partnered up with Volkswagen and Pod point to provide free charging on fast charging points but rapid chargers (50kW) require payment. All cars can use this not just Volkswagens, although you will need to use the podpoint app. Take a look at zap-map.com to find your closest charging point.
It can take as little as 30 minutes to charge a car or more than 12 hours, depending on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point.
There are two options for charging your electric car at home – more details are available on the RAC website.
The distance an electric car can travel – its range - is generally between 150 and 300 miles, depending on the size of the battery.
We are seeing the rise of ‘Range Anxiety’ amongst people who are afraid that their electric car does not have enough range on its fully charged battery to complete the journey. If you’ve ever been really low on petrol or diesel and haven’t been able to find a petrol station, you’ll know the feeling.
Most hybrids can travel between 30 and 40 miles on battery power alone but when the battery runs low, the petrol/diesel engine kicks in and powers the car. This makes hybrids an excellent way to travel short distances and in urban areas. If you’re travelling further afield, your hybrid will be able to get you there. For more information, read about hybrid distances here.
Most people would say ‘yes’ without hesitation but there are complications. They are definitely better for the environment than petrol or diesel cars and the further we move away from fossil fuels the better.
Although they are one of the best options for us right now, electric vehicles still generate emissions at different stages of their life – and there’s a long way to go before they become 100% green.
Generally, electric vehicles create a lower carbon footprint over the course of their lifetime than cars with a traditional combustion engine but:
In summary, the following are the benefits of buying an electric car:
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