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Buyer's guide: Electric Cars

Little more than a dream a few years ago, the new generation of electric cars offer good range between charges and practicality. For a significant certain type of car user they can be the right choice. There are two distinct types of electric cars.

1. Full electric cars where all power is from on-board batteries.

2. Hybrid cars where a petrol/diesel engine drive a small conventional engine together with batteries driving electric motors.

Below is a quick summary off the differences between Electric and Hybrid
ElectricHybrid
Good for environmentVeryAverage
Good for long journeysNoYes
Choice of different carsLimitedWide
Small compact carsYesYes
Large family carsNoYes
SUV / 4 wheel driveNoYes
Proven Reliability & PracticalityYesYes

We will focus the majority of this article on pure electric cars. If you wish to know more about Hybrid vehicles please follow this link – Hybrid Cars

Owning an electric car vs. a traditional car

In essence electric vehicles are simpler than a traditional combustion engine car and therefore generally do not need as much servicing. The big drawback is the batteries. The new generation of electric cars use advanced lithium-ion batteries. There are reality quick to charge (approx. 4 hours) but at the same time that is an age compared to filling your car with a tank or petrol. At the same time think of the price difference between a couple of pounds of electricity and £80 to fill your tank.

Top electric cars we recommend
(In no particular order, you need to choose the car that best suits your budget and needs)

Tesla Model S

Price: £50 – £75,000 including Government plug-in grant

Drivetrain: Electric (x2), front electric and rear (high performance) electric motor, four when drive. Also available in just rear wheel drive.

Approximate range: Up to 310 miles rear wheel drive, Up to 300 four wheel drive.

Our View: Looking more like a Ford Mondeo this car is no stunner, yet it is a proper four sear car, has four wheel drive and has the speed of a super car.

BMW i3

Price: From £31,000

Drivetrain: Single Electric Motor (although you can buy this car with a small petrol ‘range extender engine’ that effectively charges up the batteries when they start to run low on juice.

Approximate Range: Up to 100 miles on just battery power.

Our View: This car is cute and well-engineered. Like all BMW’s it comes as a premium (quite a large one). However, if you are not overly concerned about the price it is a very nice, practice small car that is definitely worth a test drive. Adding optional extras will drastically increase the base price.

Nissan Leaf

Price: £23,490 including Government plug-in grant

Drivetrain: Electric

Approximate range: Up to 124 miles

Our View: If you want a car that just looks like any other car the Leaf is certainly discrete and looks like any other supermini. This car has all the practicality you would expect from a small car, boot space, four seats and is perfect for small commutes to work and driving round your local area.

Renault Twizy

Price: from £6,795 including Government plug-in grant

Drivetrain: Electric

Approximate range: About 60 miles

Our View: Almost a cross between a scooter and a car this vehicle is excellent as a one person run-a-bout, to and from work for example. It has a second seat behind the driver but if you are looking to regularly carry passengers, boot space and general practicality the Tizzy is not the answer. However, it is fun and cheap.

Smart ForTwo Electric

Price: £15,395 including Government plug-in grant

Drivetrain: Electric

Approximate range: Up to 87 miles

Our View: Smart cars are cool and driven a lot by 20-somethings. This could be because it only has two seats. However, they are excellent vehicles and come with the backup and engineering of Mercedes. If you are style conscious this is the one for you.

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