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The future is electric: Everything you need to know about switching away from petrol

The future date is now etched in our minds since the UK government told us that the sale of petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2030.

That end date might be a few years away, but many motorists are already looking at their options, especially if you rely on your vehicle as a disabled driver, for instance.

You will undoubtedly have plenty of key questions that you need answers to before deciding to take the plunge and buy an electric car, such as how running costs compare and how environmentally friendly are electric cars.

Here is a look at the sort of information you need to make an informed decision and buy a vehicle that suits your needs and budget.

How do purchase costs compare?

The electric cars UK sales are rising, and the market is growing annually, as you might expect with the end date for petrol looming large. However, it is fair to say that price parity has not yet been reached and if you decide to buy an electric car now it will probably be more expensive than its petrol counterpart.

You have to look at the bigger picture when it comes to electric cars, and although the purchase price is currently likely to be higher, it makes sense to look at other aspects of ownership that work in your favour from a cost perspective.

The energy supplier EDF suggests that electric vehicles are likely to cost you less throughout your ownership when you compare running and maintenance costs, and specific incentives such as Vehicle Excise discounts or exemptions.

Another important point to remember is that the UK government is offering a plug-in grant to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles. This grant could cover as much as 35% of the purchase price but is capped at a maximum of £3,500. Find out more information by clicking here.

You will find that this grant is automatically factored into the forecourt price, so it is not going to be deducted from the ticket price you see.

A closer look at running costs

The most common question usually asked is how much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The typical cost is likely to be between 10-14 pence, but the actual figure depends on the charging capacity of your vehicle. Electric car charging at home is convenient and inexpensive compared to filling up with petrol or diesel, and it should equate to roughly a fifth of the price you pay at the pump.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average cost of running an electric vehicle is anywhere between £2 and £4 for every 100 miles you travel. That makes electric cars considerably cheaper to run than a petrol or diesel car, which costs an average of £13 to £16 for the same 100 miles.

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If you are going to be travelling in a congestion zone such as London, you will be pleased to know that electric vehicles are currently exempt from the congestion charge and road tax. That means you would be saving £11.50 a day if commuting in an electric car.

The Greencar Guide has a lot of useful data on electric car ownership, and it estimates that the running cost of an electric VW Golf, for example, would be about £424 in servicing costs over three years, compared to £1,245 for a petrol version.

Running costs are likely to be lower with an electric car. The only cost that could be higher for an electric vehicle is insurance, but that is marginal and may well align as electric car ownership increases.

Your options for charging an electric car

There will need to be many more charging points installed around the country if every motorist will be driving an electric car at some point soon.

The best option is to charge your vehicle at home and plan your journey based on the range offered by your model of electric cars.

It makes sense to install a proper ChargePoint for your vehicle at home, and you can get a government grant to help you with the cost of this. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge scheme offers a grant of 75% of the total installation cost of a charging point, up to a maximum of £500.

Typical charging costs will be approximately 16.5 pence per kWh, which will give you an estimated range of about 250 miles.

How environmentally friendly is an electric car?

Finally, many of you will want to know how good it is for the planet if you switch to an electric vehicle.

You might want to take a look at the scientific arguments as to how environmentally friendly electric cars really are, but the government has already decided the future is electric.

Therefore, when the time comes, it is a case of choosing a vehicle using the information you now know about what will be the default option by 2030.

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