A woman with her car keys

Should I buy an electric car?

Electric cars are rapidly gaining in popularity as more new models become available. But what are the pros and cons of going electric? Here’s our guide to deciding whether an electric car is right for you.

More people are making the switch to pure-electric cars as a greater choice of models becomes available and as the end to sales of new petrol and diesel cars looms in 2030. The good news is that electric cars are improving at an astonishing rate. If you want a well equipped and comfortable EV with a long battery range, you’ve already got a variety of really excellent choices from under £30,000 such as the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Nissan Leaf and Renault ZOE

While an electric car will be a great fit for many people, it still pays to consider how one might suit your lifestyle and driving habits. To help you decide if you should plug-in or fuel-up, we’ve rounded up the pros and cons of owning an electric car.

Pros:

Low running costs

Electric cars are very cost-effective to run. Charging up a 50kWh electric car such as the Peugeot e-208 will cost around £7 on the average domestic electricity tariff. You can save more money if you take advantage of off-peak, overnight tariffs which can halve the cost. Many electric cars allow you to set the time they start charging once you've plugged them in, so it's easy to do this. 

Even if you pay the peak price for your electricity, at £7 for 170 real-world miles of driving, you’re paying around 5p per mile. By contrast, a petrol car doing 40mpg would cost just under 13p per mile. So if you travel 8,000 miles in a year you’re going to pay £1,000 to do it in a 40mpg petrol car or £350 to do it in an electric car (Even less at £175 if you take advantage of off-peak tariffs). Not bad, right? An electric car can also cost less to service than a petrol or diesel because it has fewer moving parts to repair or replace. 

Find out how to get the most from a single charge with our handy guide to maximising your electric car range.

Low tax costs

Electric cars offer great tax savings. Most are free from road tax charges, though models built after April 2017 that cost more than £40,000 new do attract a charge of £360 per year until they're five years old. But that’s still a lot less than you’ll pay in tax on many cars in that price bracket. Electric cars also get free entry into the London low emissions zone and similar zones that are to be introduced across the UK in coming years.

The tax savings on electric cars for companies and drivers of company cars are huge, too. The driver of a company car will pay just a few hundred pounds per year in ‘Benefit in Kind’ tax, even if they’re a higher rate taxpayer and have a posh electric car. By contrast, a petrol or diesel car could cost thousands of pounds a year in BIK tax. 

Better for our health

Electric cars produce no exhaust pipe emissions (they don’t even have an exhaust) so offer huge benefits in terms of improved air quality in built-up areas. Smog and vehicle particulates are a known factor in causing asthma and other respiratory problems, so cleaner air is a tangible and significant benefit of adopting electric cars.

Better for the planet

Improved air quality and reduced emissions are, of course, much better for the planet. Building electric cars and producing the electricity needed to run them does still produce climate change-causing emissions, but manufacturers are making strides in reducing those emissions, using as much renewable energy as possible. European data suggests that an electric car could produce at least 60% fewer emissions than most new petrol cars during the vehicle's life cycle.

They’re great to drive

Electric cars are very quiet and many are very fast. They’re quieter because an electric motor has fewer moving parts than an engine. And they’re faster because electric motors give you full power the moment you touch the accelerator pedal. A petrol or diesel only gives full power when the engine is revving quite fast. 

Electric cars are often more spacious as well, because there isn’t a bulky engine and gearbox taking up space in the car.

Cons:

They cost more to buy

Electric cars can be relatively expensive compared with petrol and diesel cars. Even the Renault Zoe, which is one of the most budget-friendly electric cars you can buy, costs thousands of pounds more than an equivalent Renault Clio. Insurance costs for electric cars are often higher, too, since they are a relatively unknown quantity to insurers, with little long-term data on repair costs. As they become the norm, however, insurance costs for electric cars are expected to come down.

You’ll need to plan your journeys

The UK’s charging infrastructure is improving and expanding at a remarkable rate. But you still need to plan ahead if you want to do a long journey in an electric car. Charging stations are now available in all motorway services, but the number of chargers available varies. 

Most charge at a rate of 50kW and take about an hour to add 100 miles of range. Faster 150kW 'rapid chargers' are increasingly common and take about 15 minutes to add 100 miles of range. 

The charging network is still developing

Charger reliability across the public network can be an issue, with many stories of the devices not recharging at full power, or not working at all, but it is improving steadily thanks to continuous investment. You may also need to subscribe to a number of charger providers, some of which can be less cost-effective, inching up toward  what you’d pay to fill a fuel tank. Still, that shouldn't be much of an issue if you only occasionally charge during a journey.

Tesla cars are the exception because they have exclusive access to Tesla’s fast, reliable Supercharger network. There are stations across the UK, and indeed the world, that any Tesla can use. But you should still check in advance whether there are chargers on your planned route and keep in mind that the latest Teslas don’t have free access to the network.

They can take a long time to charge

A 50kWh electric car can take up to nine hours to fully charge from a home wallbox. This puts off a lot of people but most electric car owners (and motorists generally) only do shorter journeys on a routine basis. Far from being an issue, owners of electric cars tend to just plug them in whenever they get home, meaning that the full charge time is seldom a consideration.

A home charger won't suit everyone

Charging an electric car is easiest at home, but that can be difficult if you don't have a driveway. If you park on the street or in a housing development car park with no chargers, keeping an electric car’s batteries topped up can be a challenge. 

Solutions to the problem are being rolled out across the country, however, including building chargers into lamp posts. But these are still relatively rare and there's no guarantee one would be free when you need it.

There are lots of high-quality electric cars for sale at Cazoo. Use our search function to find one you love, buy it online and then have it delivered to your door or choose to collect it from your nearest Cazoo Customer Centre.

We're constantly updating and adding to our stock. If you can't find the right car today, check back soon to see what's available or set up a stock alert to be the first to know when we have cars that match your needs.