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Electric cars - pros and cons

  • We explore the pluses and minuses of electric motoring
  • Some factors are both - a double-edged sword
  • Other points aren't as obvious as you may think

If you're looking at a new company car you may be considering the electric option but in this brave new world of alternative propulsion methods what factors should dictate your decision?

To help you decide, we've out-lined the pros and cons of electric vehicles.

Pros

Running costs - If you compare the cost of running - not buying or leasing - an EV to that of running a conventional or hybrid car you'll see that thanks to government backing of electrically-powered transport your running costs are going to be very low. As well as costing only a few quid to charge overnight, there's a serious tax break in terms of company car tax too - a 100% discount. The same is true of VED too.

Driving enjoyment - With electrical propulsion you get a novel driving characteristic: pulling power (or torque) is instantaneous, meaning there's a shove in the back the moment you hit the throttle. There's no waiting for the car to get to a certain rpm before the fun starts - you just prod the throttle and you're off.

Novelty factor - The driving and ownership experience associated with EVs means that it's very different to running a ‘normal' car. There's a definite novelty factor, especially when pulling away in front of a group of people. You get some very strange looks from people wondering how that car is moving without any sound whatsoever.

Noise - An electric motor is next to silent so EVs offer an extremely peaceful driving experience. This isn't always a boon though... read on to find out why.

Pleases the conscience - You'll be able to rest safe in the knowledge that you're doing your bit to cut tailpipe CO2 emissions, thus helping the environment.

Leasing - Most EVs will be available via a lease package, which usually involves one monthly cost covering all aspects of ownership except insurance and the electricity needed to charge the car. Servicing and maintenance are included, and since it's a lease agreement you can hand the car back after the lease period ends and negate any depreciation.

Cons

Noise - Evs are next to silent, which is all very well except for one thing: they're silent for everyone. That means pedestrians can't hear them, and paves the way for some spectacular car park catastrophes.

Range anxiety - This is the biggie for many people considering an EV. Will investing in a car that will only travel 100 miles per charge prove an unnecessary restriction? According to a recent electric vehicle ownership survey, most (77%) journeys last less than 20 minutes, while just 2% of drivers used more than 50% of the battery. However, the majority of drivers are used to having much more range from their conventional car, so see an electric car as a step backward.

Price - Electric cars are usually quite a lot more expensive than their petrol, diesel and hybrid contemporaries, which may impact on your fleet manager's decision to implement them into your fleet.

Cabin/luggage space - Battery packs take up significant space in electric vehicles, and as the dimensions are similar to conventional cars it doesn't matter how cleverly packaged it all is, there just isn't as much space for passengers or luggage.

Residual values - At the time of writing the residual values for electric vehicles are not very strong, so if you buy outright then you'll suffer heavy depreciation. This also affects a fleet manager's decision on whether to introduce EVs onto the fleet.

Maintaining and servicing - This can only be carried out by main dealers, which will prove expensive if you're paying for it yourself.