Why did we make the change to an electric car?


As the dashboard on our ageing second car began to light up like a Christmas tree and, worse still, sometimes intermittently, the only good news we could find was that at least all the lights still worked. The inescapable conclusion was that the vehicle was nearing the end of its economically viable life, at least for anyone not gifted with the spanners.


The first question to answer was whether we still needed two cars and a quick analysis of the past few years usage confirmed that we did. Not only that, but the second car was getting sufficient use to make it worthwhile having one of our own rather than using a Hooky Car Club vehicle for those occasions when two were required simultaneously. To be fair, that decision was touch and go as I have been working mostly from home recently (and even more so now) but this could easily change and work journeys could also be both short-notice and some distance.

What were our choices for a replacement?

The next decision was what should replace it. A more detailed usage analysis showed that most journeys were of between 10 and 50 miles with little or no luggage for work, shopping or leisure trips. Many, however, could be of several hundred miles with large amounts of luggage. Hence we could manage with a smaller second car. These journey profiles and an interest in saving both carbon and pollutant emissions meant that an EV was a desirable option if we could make it cost effective. The primary car, a large diesel estate would still be available for those trips of a longer distance or with more luggage. We didn’t want a hybrid or PHEV as savings in both cost and emissions are minimal due to their very short electric-only range.


A full EV, which can usually travel 3-4 miles per kWh of charge (costing a maximum of 15p or so) meant a fuel cost per mile of around 4p compared with around 15p for diesel or petrol. Over 10,000 miles per year, that’s an annual fuel saving of £1,100. Even better, if we charge overnight on economy 7, the fuel price is halved so the saving becomes £1,300 and even more if we can charge off the solar panels during the day. Add in zero road tax (vs £250 for the old car) and half the servicing costs saving a further £200 and the savings in running costs approach £2,000 per year.


The elephant in the room with EVs is currently their high purchase cost which, if you ignore those with batteries leased separately at £50+ per month, still start the wrong side of £20k even after the government grant of (currently) £3,000. However, using the old vehicle as a deposit (if we could get it to the dealer whilst the warning lights were out!), we could get a new EV with a realistic 120/150 mile winter/summer range on a lease for around £300 per month. Others are available with ranges up to 300 miles but cost closer to £40k if buying although not much more to lease. At the other end of the scale, second-hand EVs start at around £10k but often have smaller batteries and a more limited range of maybe 80-120 miles which, for many people, could still be ample for a second car.


Other realistic alternatives were to buy second-hand diesel hatchback for around £10k which would depreciate maybe £100/month meaning that, when savings of running costs approaching £200/month are added in, you could run a brand new EV for much the same overall cost as a 4 year old second-hand car. And the carbon savings are included at no additional cost!

We did the maths:

Obviously everyone’s circumstances and journey profiles are different but the EV was a no-brainer for us and, as 90% of all journeys are <50 miles, it could be for many more as well. Overnight charging is realistic for most people, even without a dedicated 7kW charger which, with the government grant, would cost £300 – £500 to install. And, for those longer journeys or on the few occasions where an additional vehicle is required, there is always the Hooky Car Club which, as well as two EVs, also offers large and small options running on bio-diesel for the best of both worlds.


To quote an advertisement for another car – you do the maths – you might be surprised by the answer.


Mike Richardson
(treasurer of HNLC)