Can an electric car be your everyday car?

It’s a measure of how far the technology has come that, even a decade ago, it would have been hard to justify an electric vehicle as your everyday car.

Electric cars were too expensive, offered limited range, and the charging network was too small to make them a realistic prospect. Things started to improve when Nissan launched the Leaf in 2010, with the Renault Zoe arriving two years later.

Generous government grants, the rapid expansion of the charging network and the launch of more affordable vehicles all mean that the answer to our original question is, yes, an electric car can be your everyday car.

However, there are some questions you need to ask yourself first.

How long is my daily commute?

How long is my daily commute

The average journey in the UK is around 21 miles. Even an electric car with the most miserly range estimate will be able to cover that. You don’t even need a Tesla to tackle a longer daily commute.

For example, the Kia e-Niro offers a claimed 282 miles of electric range, which might be enough for an entire week of commuting. Indeed, the e-Niro offers an impressive balance of price and range, costing £35,000 after the plug-in car grant.

If you live in a city, you could find the latest breed of smaller and more affordable electric cars works for you. The Skoda Citigo e-iV costs less than £20,000 and offers a range of 170 miles. You’ll get 160 miles from the similarly priced – and well-equipped – Seat Mii Electric.

Do I have off-street parking at home?

Do I have off-street parking

Without access to a driveway or garage at home, charging your electric car could be a problem. Although it’s possible to lobby your local authority to install chargers on your street, the reality is that home charging is both convenient and cheaper.

Trailing a charging cable across a pavement is unwise and unlawful. As the Highways Act 1980 states, unless you can prove that you have taken all necessary means to give adequate warning of the danger, you’re committing an offence. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Lamp post charging is an option – and connected kerbs are coming – but for now at least, home charging is the answer. Or maybe it isn’t.

If you have access to a charger at work, you could charge it there, so you have full batteries for the journey home and the morning commute. Just make sure that you’re guaranteed access to the charger, or you could be set for an unplanned nightshift.

Do I live in a city?

Do I live in a city

If you spend most of your time in a city, an electric car is fast becoming the best choice of vehicle. Indeed, it won’t be long before some cities make them the only choice.

Right now, electric cars are exempt from paying the London Congestion Charge – and they will be until 2025 at the earliest. The introduction of Clean Air Zones across the UK will also work in favour of electric cars.

Run an electric car in Westminster and you’ll receive discounted parking, free parking while charging and a parking permit for local residents. Other towns and cities are likely to introduce similar incentives.

Summary

Buying an electric car

If you spend your time pounding the UK’s motorways, covering 200 to 300 miles a day, an electric car probably isn’t for you. We’d recommend a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid if you want to embrace electrification.

For most other people, an electric car is a realistic everyday car. Things get a little trickier if you have to rely on the public charging network – there are different connectors, companies and payment options to consider. It’s also more expensive to charge away from home.

Browse the pages of Motoring Electric and you’ll see how affordable it is to run an electric car. Time to rethink your daily drive?

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