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Is now the right time to switch to an electric vehicle?

Erin Baker
Written by  Erin Baker
Donna McConnell
Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
3 min read
Updated: 15 Dec 2023

Have you thought about driving electric? Electric cars are fast gaining in popularity but there are a few important things to consider before making the switch. Read on to find out more from our expert Erin Baker.

Are you considering going electric with your next car purchase? It’s a decision that requires a bit of thought, because making the switch to an electric vehicle is not as simple as just getting a new car; it’s also a lifestyle change that requires, as we say at Auto Trader, more “jobs to be done”.

Unlike buying a regular car, you’ll need to consider where you will charge it, whether it can be charged at home in your driveway, or if you have off-street parking, where will you charge your vehicle? Plus you’ll need to sign up to a new domestic energy tariff with an off-peak setting.

There’s also the average monthly mileage to consider, and what sort of range you might need, and where your nearest public charging points are.

All of this may seem like one consideration too many but there are of course many benefits, so read on for some key points to consider, which might make the decision to go electric a lot more attractive.

Why should you consider going electric?

The cost. If, like 90 per cent of us, you buy your cars used, not new, then now is an excellent time to make the switch, because, until last month, Auto Trader’s data shows they were 12 consecutive months of price drops in the used-car electric market, thanks to more supply than demand, as people reached the end of their first three-year electric deals.

Also, some guy called Elon Musk dropped the price of his Teslas twice very quickly, forcing all brands to reconsider their pricing.

Combine these lower prices with the clear savings you make if you can charge at home (for example; it can cost as little as £5 to get 200 miles of charge on board from a home charger between midnight and 5am – compared to the £40 cost for petrol to cover the same distance), and you can see how you start to offset that higher price point for a new electric car.

More accessible charging points

There are now 50,000 public charging points in the UK, including some garage forecourts with banks of ultra-rapid chargers, like Gridserve at Braintree in Essex, which gives you 100 miles in a matter of minutes (although they’re expensive, so be warned).

For most people, combining the public charging network with an app like Zapmap, which shows you where your nearest charger is and how powerful it is, is enough to get their twice-weekly charge between easier destination charging points at places like hotels, offices, leisure complexes and homes.

Beat the 2035 global electric car switch deadline

We have to go electric, so if not for your next car, when? Yes, Rishi Sunak has pushed the 2030 deadline of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars back to 2035 but be in no doubt: we will all eventually have to make the switch to electric.

We can debate just how green the cradle-to-grave journey of an electric car is, but you cannot argue against the huge environmental and health benefits of reducing air pollution. Electric cars emit no fumes or particulates as they have no combustion engine and so don’t burn hydrocarbons. Decarbonising our road network is an essential part of slowing climate change, hitting the UK’s net zero targets and improving the health of those who live in urban environments through breathing in cleaner air.

It’s not like diesel, where the Government prevaricated endlessly, and we aren’t going to go straight from petrol to hydrogen, which is decades away from meaningful mass transport adoption. Nearly every developed-world Government has mandated the switch to electric. And therefore, if it’s simply a matter of when, rather than if, isn’t ASAP the best answer to when you’re likely to make the switch?

Contribute to a cleaner planet

Climate change brings me to my final point to consider; the planet. Electric cars are getting greener almost every day. Manufacturers are undertaking the switch to renewable energy to power their factories, and they’re cleaning up their upstream and downstream supply chains, because they know consumers want more transparency from the brands they buy from.

The sourcing of rare earth metals for batteries and magnets in motors is coming under greater ethical scrutiny, from the mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the processing of lithium in China. Car manufacturers are seeking out new suppliers, like Pensana PLC in Angola, for these metals, to mine ethically alongside reducing the amount of cobalt in batteries and looking to UK companies such as Cornish Lithium for sourcing domestically. So, the story is improving all the time. And meanwhile, what’s the ethical or sustainable story for drilling for oil and turning it into fossil fuels, which we then simply burn? There is no improvement to be made there: it’s a dead-end street.

So really, it’s time to start researching making the switch. Our time is now.

Other useful guides 

Check out our other useful car-related guides including choosing the right electric car for you: 

Is Tesla still the top choice electric car? | MoneySuperMarket

The electric car insurance index | MoneySuperMarket

How to avoid being a victim of car cloning | MoneySuperMarket

Which electric vehicle is right for you? | MoneySuperMarket