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The Benefits of driving an Electric Car
Electric vehicles emit no carbon dioxide (CO2) nitrous oxide (NOx) or any other harmful particulates, so in comparison to traditional combustion engine cars, they are significantly less polluting. Generally speaking, electric cars are around 70% more efficient than petrol and diesel cars with an overall efficiency of around 90%.
There’s a common argument that electric cars simply push their emissions further up the supply chain, so whilst their emissions are lower, the CO2 emitted by power stations in order to supply electricity effectively replaces any reduction.
This concept is referred to as the ‘Long Tailpipe Theory’ and whilst there is a degree of truth to this, in reality, it fails to take into account the fact that many power stations are significantly greener than the combustion engine technology found in petrol and diesel vehicles, and that over time electricity generation will become less carbon-intensive.
Electric vehicles also effectively ‘de-centralise’ emissions by removing mass CO2 and NOx emissions from densely populated areas where road traffic is high. Even taking into account the Long Tailpipe Theory, moving emissions out of populated areas is a massive benefit, and with coal now forming a very small part of the UKs power mix, combined with the growth of solar, hydro and wind power, the amount of air pollution generated by the associated supply chain is reducing at a rapid rate
Air pollution is a public health emergency. Consequently, many cities around the UK have plans to introduce Low Emission Zones (LEZ) in order to curb urban air pollution. These measures, which are targeted at the worst-emitting petrol and diesel vehicles, demonstrate that electric vehicles are a logical choice when it comes to reducing pollution as well as reducing motoring costs.
The manufacturing process
A report by engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo for the Low Carbon Partnership found that electric cars create more carbon emissions during their production than standard vehicles as the result of battery manufacture. However, according to a study by Belgium’s VUB University, battery technology and the manufacturing process is improving at an exponential rate and as more renewables enter the grid, emissions from battery production could reduce by up to 65%.
Even taking this into account, estimates suggest that by 2030 electric vehicles will emit 50% less emissions than a diesel car – including manufacturing emissions.
The view of electric cars being glorified dodgems couldn’t be further from the truth. With cutting-edge technology, improved handling due to their low centre of gravity and impressive acceleration, the reality is quite the opposite.
Telsa famously demonstrated the performance of it’s Model X by outperforming an Alfa Romeo 4C in a drag race – while towing an Alfa Romeo 4C!
As an illustration of the sort of performance an electric car is capable of, there’s Tesla’s forthcoming Roadster: Capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in an astonishing 1.9 seconds, and with a top speed of over 250 mph and a range of 620 miles, it’s a bona fide supercar.
Whilst the Roadster is hardly a typical road car, their standard production models also offer impressive performance. Their most affordable car, the Model 3, can go from 0 – 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and has a range of 348 miles.
Even electric cars at the lowest end of the cost/performance spectrum like the Nissan LEAF offer impressive nippiness, with instant torque from zero revs giving hot-hatches a serious run for their money when getting away from the lights.
If you can charge your car at home, depending on your electricity tariff, you’ll pay around 2 – 5p per mile to drive an electric car – an average reduction in fuel costs of around £1,000 per year. If you’re a company car driver an electric car can also offers significant Benefit in Kind savings.
Cost to buy
Electric vehicles are currently more expensive to buy primarily due to the cost of battery manufacture. However, accounting organisation Deloitte predicts that with battery technology improving and the associated cost of manufacture falling at around 20% per year, by 2024, the cost of owning an electric vehicle will be on par with that of a petrol or diesel car.
Of course, the most logical way to drive an electric vehicle is to lease it. With EV technology advancing at a rapid pace, leasing an electric car removes the cost barrier to entry and ensures you are always driving cutting edge EV technology with the greatest range and performance. In addition, the pace of rapid development in EV technology results in EVs depreciating at a much higher rate. Leasing removes the risk and hassle in having to sell on a highly depreciated asset – you simply return the vehicle at the end of your lease contract and choose a new state-of-the-art model.
Finally, electric cars are more convenient than petrol or diesel cars. Estimates suggest that a car is parked for 95% of their lifespan. The irony is that you have to use fuel in order to refuel a petrol or diesel car, and this process typically adds time to your commute. However electric vehicles are typically charging whilst parked, thereby making full use of that downtime.
With charging infrastructure and range increasing at a rapid pace, electric car drivers are approaching the point where the car is either getting you from A to B or charging in preparation. Being able to get into your car and not having to worry about driving to a petrol station or exorbitant fuel costs is a revelatory experience.