Electric cars are silent, smooth, better for the environment and many owners love them – and yet sales figures continue to stay low. So what’s stopping us from charging up and hopping in an e-car?
If you were offered the keys to an electric car tomorrow, what would stop you from taking them?
As a nation, we went out and bought nearly 2.7m brand new cars last year, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). But only 10,264 of these vehicles were electric – that’s less than half a percent.
Yet in last year’s annual car survey, it was Tesla and its super-snazzy Model S electric saloon car that nearly broke our scoring system for owner satisfaction.
It showed that owners didn’t just like their cars – they loved them. Here’s what one Tesla owner said:
‘Staggering performance, quiet, has an enormous amount of Tardis-like room… via updates, the car has got BETTER since I bought it. It’s the future.’ (Which? Car survey, 2016)
At their best, electric cars are silent, smooth and clearly satisfying… so why aren’t we buying more of them?
Have you got range anxiety?
Range anxiety is the term given to the worrying feeling that you won’t be able to make it to the next convenient charging point before your car runs out of juice and regresses into what is essentially a lavish metal box on wheels.
But in our tests, most electric cars can get 90-115 miles on a single charge. The Tesla we had in the lab was able to travel over 200 miles between plug sockets.
OK, many petrol cars can go further than this, but with new charging points popping up all the time – and with many cars overstating their miles per gallon (mpg) figure – this isn’t necessarily a big turn-off for electric.
On the other hand, you might want an electric car but not have the ability to plug it in somewhere at home.
Let’s face it, unless you have a driveway it’s going to be faff to run out a cable to where your car is parked. (And that’s assuming you are able to get a space anywhere near home.)
You may have also investigated the charging points around areas you normally drive – say your local shops – and found a considerable dearth of accessible or convenient charging points.
But if you get a fast-charging wallbox installed at home you should be able to fill your batteries to the brim in three to eight hours, depending on the car. Just be aware that if you rely on a domestic plug, charging times could increase dramatically, stretching to beyond 12 or even 24 hours for a full charge.
Electric cars are generally more expensive than their fuel combusting cousins. For instance, a 5-door Volkswagen Golf has a glossy-brochure price of at least £18,280.
Compare that to the all electric Golf (e-Golf). Prices start at £31,680, although the plug-in grant from the UK government will reduce that cost to £27,180.
Still, that’s nearly £9,000 extra to go electric (or to put it another way, the cost of a brand-new VW Up! city car) just to ditch the fuel tank.
What’s stopping us from buying electric cars?
So why aren’t we buying more electric cars? Is it range putting you off – or the price? Perhaps it’s everything above or something completely different. Whatever your hesitation is about buying an electric car, tell us about it in the comments below.