2030 ban – is it worth buying an electric car now?

2030 ban – is it worth buying an electric car now?
A ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars has been brought forward to 2030. The decision has made questions about buying an electric car more urgent than ever.

While the plans don’t mean the end for the sale of used petrol and diesel cars, there’s never been a better time to weigh up whether to make the switch to electric sooner rather than later.

Here, we look at whether there’ll be enough chargers to meet demand, the costs of running an electric vehicle (EV) and much more to help you weigh up your options.

Are there enough public charging points?

electric_charging_only

It’s difficult to know how many charging points are needed to deal with extra demand by 2030.

What we can say for sure is that as of November 2020, a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid chargepoint anywhere along England’s motorways and major A roads.1 That's well within the range of even the most limited EVs today.

The latest figures show there are more than 20,000 charging devices in the UK (Nov. 2020).2

The Government has recently shown a renewed interest in boosting the already growing number of charging locations.

While announcing the 2030 ban, the Prime Minister promised to invest £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll-out of chargepoints in homes, streets across the UK and on motorways across England.3 

With so much cash assigned to boosting infrastructure, we’ll be seeing considerably more public charging devices long before the ban is enforced.

What needs to be done to improve charging infrastructure?

To ensure there are enough chargepoints available for all EV owners, efforts to install devices will need to be made by motorists and private companies too.

Plans to get the UK EV-ready are thankfully already well underway. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provides a grant of up to £350 to help EV owners with the costs and installation of chargepoints and could offset demand for public charging.

The Workplace Charging Scheme is designed to support employers with the upfront costs and installation fees for chargepoints. Recharging a battery while at work makes owning an electric car a lot more viable for those motorists that don’t have off-street parking.

To help more motorists make the switch to electric, chargepoints should be available in the home, at the workplace, and positioned according to demand in different regions. For adoption of electric cars to work on a large scale, the right type of chargers should be provided too.

Analysis from Esri UK shows that whilst London has the most charging points out of any region in the UK, it comes bottom in a comparison of rapid charging points across 10 major cities.

Just over 8% of London’s points offer rapid charging, but progress is being made across the UK; in Leeds 43% of the city’s chargepoints offer the speedier service.4 

Efforts to adapt petrol stations are also needed to ensure there are enough charging locations to meet demand.

Find out how the UK is getting ready for electric vehicles.

What’s happening at forecourts?

electric_car_charging_tesco

Although the majority of existing EV drivers are currently charging at home and the workplace, we know that conversion of traditional forecourts is a key part of supporting a shift from conventional fuel to electric.

Some of the big names in fuel have already started adding electric car chargers alongside their petrol and diesel pumps.

Shell installed a 50kW EV rapid-charging post in a service station in North London in 2017 before adding nine more of the chargepoints to their petrol stations. By 2021, there should be 200 rapid and ultra-rapid chargers on their forecourts across the UK.5 

BP is also focusing their efforts on repurposing 1,200 forecourts in the UK to install their Chargemaster devices for EVs.6 

The supermarkets are following suit as well. Back in 2018 Tesco committed to installing 2,400 charging bays across 600 of their locations.7 

An all-electric forecourt with 26 chargepoints is due to open in Braintree, Essex in late 2020. Gridserve, who are behind the station, plan to open 100 more sites over the next five years.8 

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Are there any other kinds of chargers available?

In order to create more public chargepoints, councils across the UK have started to install more unconventional devices:

  • Lampost chargers – convert streetlights so they double up as chargers for EVs. The idea is particularly useful as local authorities try to avoid cluttering pavements. German company Ubitricity has already started converting lampposts in London boroughs.
  • Induction pads – use wireless technology to charge EVs from under the vehicle. The city of Nottingham has won a £3.4 million government grant to trial wireless charging for its taxis.

Can I run cables across the pavement to charge an electric car?

According to the National Grid, 40% of people in England and Wales don’t have off-street parking. That could mean that large numbers of EV owners attempt to charge their cars with cables left lying across public footpaths.9

If this is the case, drivers should use a raised plastic cable protector to minimise the risk of tripping pedestrians. 

Although the Local Government Authority says there is no legislation that would make placing a cable on the pavement illegal, it’s best to do what you can to avoid injuring others.

How can I afford a new electric car?

Although the running costs of owning an EV are much cheaper than those for a car with a conventional internal combustion engine, many would-be buyers are deterred from switching to electric because of the initial pay out. 

The upfront cost of an electric car is typically more expensive than a petrol or diesel equivalent. Here we take a look at some of the incentives available to help make an EV purchase cheaper.

The plug-in car grant

The plug-in car grant is a government scheme that pays 35% of the price of a low-emissions vehicle up to £3,000. 

Cars must cost less than £50,000 with CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and must be able to travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions at all.

The discount is available through dealerships and manufacturers.

Home charger grant

The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme offers a 75% contribution up to £350 towards the cost of a home chargepoint and its installation.

To qualify for support you must own, lease, or have ordered an eligible vehicle and have off-street parking at your property.

Workplace charger grant

The Workplace Charging Scheme is a voucher-based initiative designed to help businesses, charities and public sector organisations with the cost of buying and installing a chargepoint. 

Applicants can receive up to £350 of support without owning an electric vehicle.

Scrappage schemes

Currently, there is no government-backed scrappage scheme to help with the costs of buying an electric car.

Ministers rejected calls for a new scheme to help with costs back in July this year, after manufacturers felt drastic action was needed to address record-low sales affected by the coronavirus crisis.

However, London residents who receive certain benefits can apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to scrap cars and motorcycles that don't meet the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) standards.

Some vehicle manufacturers also offer scrappage schemes to encourage motorists to pick up a cleaner new car. You should check current manufacturer schemes thoroughly to check if your car can be traded in to give you a discount on one of their electric models.

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Other incentives

Earlier this year the government confirmed plans to introduce green number plates for new electric cars.

Due in December 2020, the distinctive plates are designed to help local authorities roll out local incentives for cleaner vehicles in the near future. 

green-front-and-rear-number-plates

How much tax will I pay on an electric car?

Electric car owners do not pay 'car tax' (Vehicle Excise Duty). While they’re exempt from any fees, they must still process their vehicle with the DVLA's tax portal.

Owners of petrol and diesel cars pay 57.95p in fuel duty for each litre of fuel they buy – a figure which has been frozen since March 2011. As the 2030 ban draws ever closer it’s inevitable that we’ll need a new system to levy tax on both conventionally fuelled and battery electric vehicles fairly.

In November 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that he’s “very interested” in a national pricing scheme but it’s unclear how the charges would work.

A pay-as-you-drive road tax, more clean air zones, and increased use of toll roads might be considered.

With more motorists relying on electricity, some people worry that the National Grid won’t be able to supply enough energy without running into problems.

The transport decarbonisation director at National Grid, Graeme Cooper, told This is Money: “We are confident that a faster transition is possible and we are suitably robust to cope with the forecast uptake in EVs.”

The energy expert predicts that if everyone in the UK switched to electric cars overnight, peak demand would only increase by 10%.10

Should I switch to a hybrid instead?

The petrol and diesel ban doesn’t prevent new hybrid vehicles from being sold from 2030. 

In fact, the government announced that: “Between 2030 and 2035, new cars and vans can be sold if they have the capability to drive a significant distance with zero emissions (for example, plug-in hybrids or full hybrids).”

In other words, new hybrid cars can be sold up until 2035.

Before you decide between a hybrid or pure-electric vehicle you should weigh up the pros and cons across key areas:

  • Upfront cost – EVs are typically more expensive than their hybrid equivalents. Hybrid cars have also been more widely available than electric cars for some time now – which means you’re more likely to pick up an affordable second-hand deal on the dual-powered vehicles. 
  • Running costs – If this is a priority you should choose an electric vehicle. With a cheap energy provider and free charging opportunities, EVs are more affordable than hybrids to run. Throw in the tax exemption on pure EVs and the savings become even more apparent.
  • Range – Hybrid cars are a natural choice if you typically travel longer distances. However, with improvements to both charging infrastructure and the range on EVs, ‘range anxiety’ is becoming less of a concern.
  • Environmental impact – Unlike hybrids, pure EVs produce no tailpipe emissions. According to the latest research from Transport & Environment, hybrid cars are more polluting than manufacturers claim. The campaigners point out that drivers rely on their combustion engine more than a rechargeable battery in real world use. EVs are the clear winner if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly car. 
  • Maintenance – With fewer moving parts, electric vehicles are generally much easier to maintain. However, if a serious problem arises it might be more difficult to find a garage to fix it, so expect to pay a premium if you’re unlucky.

 

Are you ready to take the plunge? Let us know what you think about EVs in the comments below.

FAQs

  • Is it worth buying an electric car now?

    That

    depends on your circumstances. Early adopters will benefit from tax exemption,
    purchase grants and home charging grants that could become less readily
    available as more motorists switch to EVs.

  • Will it be cheaper to fuel an electric car than a traditional car?

    According

    to charging experts Pod Point a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery and
    200-mile range costs about £8.40 for a full charge at home. That’s not to
    forget the free charging opportunities at workplaces, and public locations.

    In
    early 2020 some EV owners were actually paid to recharge
    their battery
    as they used excess electricity.


  • Is it free to charge my electric car?

    Currently,

    free chargepoints are available publicly and at some forward-thinking
    workplaces. As more motorists switch to EVs, the toll-free charging options
    might become harder to find.

  • How much will it cost to install a home charger?

    A

    home charger will typically cost between £450 to £1,500 (for faster charging
    units) with the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.


  • Can I charge an electric car on a public road?

    There are an

    increasing number of charging points that can be used on public roads.

    If you’re
    looking for one near you, Zap-Map provide an up-to-date map of public
    charging points across the UK.

  • How long does it take to charge an electric car?

    That

    depends on the type of charger you’re using and the size of your car’s battery.

    Slow
    charging from empty to 100%, typically takes around 5-8 hours for most EVs,
    rising to around 12 hours for longer range cars with larger batteries.

    Using
    a rapid charger typically takes around 45mins–1 hour for an 80% charge, rising
    to around 1.5 hours for the longer range EVs with larger batteries.

    Rapid charge times
    are generally quoted to 80% charge because beyond this, the charging speed
    automatically tapers off to prevent battery damage.

  • What’s the lifespan of an electric car battery?

    Electric

    car batteries can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years.

    Most manufacturers
    will sell a new EV with a five to eight-year warranty on their battery

  • How much ‘life’ do conventional cars have left in them?

    Despite

    the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, second-hand models can be
    still be sold from 2030.

    It’s
    possible that fewer manufacturers will make petrol and diesel cars as the
    deadline looms, but we should use the end of the decade as the basis to
    answering this question.

    According to the SMMT,
    the average vehicle age at scrappage is just under 14 years. That could mean
    petrol and diesel cars become a rarity on the roads around 2043.

  • How long will it take for the next alternative fuel to replace electric?

    Hydrogen

    fuel cells are tipped to be the next big change in powering vehicles.
    Currently, infrastructure is poor and fewer than 20 refuelling stations can be
    found in the UK.

    Although
    an extremely limited number of hydrogen-powered cars are available to buy, it
    will take a considerable amount of time before they’re viewed as a mainstream
    transport option.

  • Are there enough charging points to plan a long drive?

    A

    driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid chargepoint anywhere along
    England’s motorways and major A roads.

    If
    you’re planning a road trip and you’re concerned there won’t be enough chargers
    along the way, Zap-Map’s EV route
    planner
    is designed to plan stops so you’ll never be caught short on battery life.

  • Does my local area have enough charging points?

    You

    can check Zap-Map’s interactive
    map
    to see how many charging points are in your immediate area.

  • Will there be more affordable electric cars in the near future?

    You might be surprised to learn about the range of affordable electric cars that are

    currently available. Manufacturers are keen to tap into a growing market and
    plans for more cheaper models have already been made for 2021.

    If you’re likely to buy second-hand, the market for
    used EVs is also set to grow as growing number of motorists switch to electric
    cars. This in-turn will drive down prices across similar and older models.

The RAC is leading the way when it comes to supporting drivers in the switch to electric vehicles.

An ever-increasing number of our patrol vans have built-in emergency mobile charging systems capable of giving an out-of-charge electric car enough power to be driven a short distance home or to a working chargepoint, while our All-Wheels-Up recovery system allows our patrols to safely rescue electric cars with no need for a flatbed.

Find out more about the RAC’s electric car breakdown cover.

Learn more

 


1 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-historic-step-towards-net-zero-with-end-of-sale-of-new-petrol-and-diesel-cars-by-2030
2 https://www.ukpia.com/our-contribution/uk-downstream-oil-sector/marketing-and-forecourts/ and https://www.zap-map.com/statistics/
3 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-historic-step-towards-net-zero-with-end-of-sale-of-new-petrol-and-diesel-cars-by-2030
4 https://resource.esriuk.com/resources/mediamaps/
 5 https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/how-shell-reinventing-fuel-station-evs
 6 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/electric-cars-the-old-style-petrol-station-will-be-replaced-but-by-what-k2c8jfrlk
 7 https://www.tescoplc.com/news/2018/tesco-and-volkswagen-provide-the-largest-retail-electric-vehicle-charging-network-in-the-uk/
 8 https://www.gridserve.com/post/gridserve-unveils-major-partnerships-as-electric-forecourt-nears-completion
9 https://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/electricity-transmission/news/transitioning-world-electric-vehicles
10 https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-8958509/National-Grid-says-suitably-robust-cope-electric-car-demand-2030.html

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