WITH more than 100,000 electric vehicles now in use on British roads, the chances are, you will have seen one or two in your neighbourhood or on the daily commute.
We’re not talking hybrids like the popular Toyota Prius or Mitsubishi Outlander here, but pure battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) like BMW’s i3, Renault’s Zoe, Nissan’s Leaf and the Tesla Model S.
Over the next three years, electric cars are going to become a whole lot more popular as the mainstream motor manufacturers scramble to face down the threat to their future market share posed by upstarts like Tesla – shortly to be joined by Apple, Google and Dyson.
Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and Volvo are all poised to launch EVs before 2020, most of which will have the range and performance to compete head on with conventional rivals.
At the moment, EVs may still look expensive, but as the battery technology improves and manufacturing volumes increase, prices will inevitably fall. Remember your first mobile phone? How’s your current model compare?
So if you’ve just taken delivery of a new company car with a conventional diesel or petrol engine, there’s a very real chance your next company car will be electric. Here are just 10 of the reasons why:
1. Diesel’s days are numbered
Air quality – especially in our cities – is moving up the political agenda and diesel engines are increasingly irreconcilable with improving air quality. They simply cost too much to clean up, so the motor manufacturers will invest instead in developing electric powertrains.
2. Hybrids are an expensive halfway house
Part-electric cars have been around for years, but they are unlikely to be able to compete with third generation EVs. The expense of developing both internal combustion and electric powertrains in tandem will render them increasingly unattractive to the carmakers and – unlike EVs – hybrids still need fuel, oil, exhausts, clutches, gearboxes and regular servicing.
3. Big petrol engines are almost extinct
The headlong dash for diesel sounded the deathknell for powerful petrol engines. Most manufacturers will take the view that future investment will be better spent on electric technology than developing a new range of petrol engines.
4. Range anxiety will cease to be an issue
This is what stops most people switching to electric vehicles, but the next generation of EVs will be good for 250 miles between charges and will be capable of an 80 percent recharge in less than an hour – just enough time for lunch, checking emails and making a few calls.
5. EV resale values will rise
With far fewer moving parts and much lower maintenance costs, EVs aren’t subject to the same rates of wear and tear as internal combustion engines. Used Teslas are achieving 62 per cent of their new value. As awareness of the benefits of EVs increases, so will demand for second hand EVs – especially if they come with a battery upgrade. This will mean the monthly rentals on leased EVs will reduce. In the medium term, second-hand demand may outstrip supply, strengthening used values still further.
6. EVs will be cheaper to run than diesels by 2020
Significant increases in the taxation of diesel vehicles at the pumps, via road tax and through benefit-in-kind (BIK) taxation have been flagged up by the Treasury. These increases in the cost of ownership and operation are likely to further hasten diesel’s demise.
7. EVs are better to drive
The latest EVs are demonstrably superior to conventional vehicles in almost every respect. They are quieter, more refined, more agile and often faster than their petrol or diesel rivals. Once drivers are converted to the clear cut benefits of electric power, they are unlikely to go back.
8. Drivers will do the maths
Most journeys by car are less than 10 Miles. Average daily mileage is 25. The typical commute is less than 10 miles. Today’s EVs can easily cope with this sort of usage – but at a fraction of the cost of running a diesel.
9. Commuters will be the first to switch
Most company car drivers commute to work. If this involves driving into a city, congestion, emissions and possibly toxicity charges will be levied on diesels within the next three years. This could increase the cost of simply driving to work by more than £20 a day.
10. TINA – there is no alternative
The switch to electric vehicles is being driven by tech-focused disruptors like Tesla, Apple, Google and Amazon. These companies are unlikely to want to turn back the clock and invest in internal combustion technology. If conventional cars had made as much technological progress as personal computers since 1971, the fastest production cars would now be capable of 67 million miles per hour.