15/10/2021

Green means go: Electric cars, the fuel crisis, and ways you can save

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Now that we’re experiencing a fuel crisis in the UK, with queues for petrol stations stretching around the block in certain parts of the country, it’s understandable that enquiries about electric cars have soared. 

But can switching to an electric car really help you avoid the UK fuel crisis? And how will switching to an electric vehicle help you save money in the long run?

We’ll share with you some reasons why switching to an electric car can be a great money-saver, but first, let’s take a look at why you may be struggling to fill up your tank right now.

Is there a fuel shortage in the UK?

It’s a very good question. The news coverage of angry drivers queuing round the block, fights in petrol station forecourts, and the British Army being on standby to help out, would all make you think there was a serious shortage of petrol in the UK. 

In fact, there’s no petrol shortage in Britain. We have enough fuel for everyone. The problem is we don’t have enough people available to deliver that fuel around the country. 

The UK has recently experienced difficulty in sourcing Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers. This is because most of the lorry drivers who deliver petrol to filling stations in the UK (as well as food to supermarkets) were from elsewhere in the EU.

Since Brexit, many of the drivers who were previously delivering petrol across the country have been forced to leave. Combine this with the fact that the logistics industry has been struggling to attract new blood for decades, and we have a situation where we have plenty of petrol but nobody to distribute it.

 

So is it a good time to switch to an electric car?

The fuel crisis in the UK has caused a surge in interest for the electric car. According to the popular classified ad website Autotrader, there’s been a more than 60% increase in searches for electric vehicles since the end of September. It’s not hard to see why. 

Many people see the virtues of electric cars, both in terms of the planet and their pocket, but there’s always been something holding them back. 

Now that petrol has become such a problem in the UK, it looks like the fuel crisis could be the tipping point for the electric-car-curious among us, but there may still be a few reservations – mostly centred around cost. 

There’s no getting away from the fact that electric cars cost more upfront than petrol or diesel cars. But that doesn’t mean they cost more overall. Below, we outline five ways electric cars could actually save you money. 

 

  • Electric cars are cheaper than they’ve ever been

Remember the early flat screen TVs? Well, they weren’t really ‘flat’, it took some getting used to seeing them up there on the wall and, most memorably of all, they initially cost thousands of pounds to buy.

That might seem surprising now that you can get a reasonable 54-inch flat screen for a few hundred pounds, but lots of cutting-edge technology starts off extremely expensive before it truly filters into the mainstream. 

That’s the stage we’re getting to with electric cars. One of the main factors that put people off buying electric cars was the price. There’s no doubt they cost more than their petrol or diesel equivalents, but that’s now changing. 

According to the Financial Times, the cost of producing an electric car engine is decreasing so much that it’s expected to be in line with a regular car engine by 2030. So while electric cars may still be more expensive than regular cars right now, they’ve never been cheaper. And in the meantime, there’s financial support in place to help you bridge that gap. 

 

  • You can get a government grant to buy an electric car

While it still costs more to purchase an electric car upfront, the costs of buying and running an electric car can be offset by grants from the Government. 

As part of the broader strategy for combating the global climate crisis, the UK Government is trying to encourage more people to switch to low-emissions vehicles. One of the ways they do this is by providing grants directly to the manufacturers making electric cars, as well as the dealerships who are selling them. 

You don’t have to do anything to apply for this kind of grant, it will be included in the price of the car you’re buying, but there is a full list of the makes and models the grant applies to on the Government website

Switching to an electric vehicle using a grant could save you up to £2,500 off the cost of buying your next car and, as the next point illustrates, an electric car will also save you money as the years go by.

 

  • Electric cars cost less to run

While the initial purchase price of electric vehicles is often higher than petrol cars (although this depends on manufacturer and model), electric car running costs are considerably cheaper to run over time. 

According to EDF energy, the average petrol car in the UK cost around £12 per 100 miles to run in 2019. The average electric car, on the other hand, cost only £5 per mile to run in the same year. That makes electric cars 140% cheaper and, if the fuel crisis continues to drive up the price of petrol and diesel, that gap could get bigger. 

You may be worried that you’d struggle to find a charging point for your electric car. Well, they’re everywhere. At last count, there were more than 42,000 electric car charging points in the UK at over 15,500 locations, and there’s a map to help you find one near you

The easiest thing to do is have one installed at your home, and there’s even a Government grant to help you cover the cost.


 

  • Electric cars need less servicing than petrol or diesel cars

The running cost of a car isn’t simply making sure you have enough fuel. Cars break down, run into issues, and need regular servicing, and all of that costs money – but it costs less money with an electric car. 

The reason is simple. There are less moving parts with an electric car. That means no need for spark plugs, oil changes, or many of the niggling issues that can cause petrol or diesel cars to drain your wages.  

Overall, research shows that the cost of servicing and maintaining the average electric car is 30% less than its petrol or diesel equivalent. So even if an electric car costs you more to get it on the road, it will cost you less to keep it there. 

 

  • Electric vehicles are exempt from road tax

Road tax is one of the expenses you don’t always consider when you’re thinking about buying a car, but it’s not an insignificant amount of money, and you’ll have to pay it every year your car is on the road. 

The price of road tax in the UK can range from £155 – £555 per year, and given the average length of ownership in Britain is 4 years, the cost of taxing your car is likely to reach into the thousands – unless you drive an electric car. 

Road tax is priced based on various factors, including how much pollution your vehicle emits. The more energy-efficient your car is, the more you’ll save, and there’s no car more energy-efficient than an electric car. 

Zero emissions means zero road tax, so you can keep an electric car on the road for as long as you like and it won’t cost you a penny.

These are just some of the ways switching to an electric car can help you save money, but there are plenty more reasons why this switch makes sense.

 

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