There’s been a lot of hype in the news recently about electric cars. They’re better for the environment, cheaper to run, and the natural next step up in a world dominated by technological advances. The questions that arise from this are why doesn’t everyone have one yet and why aren’t there more young people like myself choosing an electric car as their first car?
As I’ve now moved away from my parents’ and university, and got my own flat, I’m soon to be starting my first proper job; naturally getting my first car is something that’s next on the list.
One of the first things that I have to consider when thinking about buying my own car is the cost. Not only the initial cost of buying the car but the insurance and the petrol money that come alongside it. Looking at a comparison between a classic petrol car and a fancy new electric car there are pros and cons for each decision.
The costs of purchasing an electric car
The straight-up cost of buying an electric car is more expensive. A Nissan Leaf – the current bestselling electric car – will set you back between £16,000 and £22,000, depending on whether you buy the car battery outright or simply lease it month by month.
This is undoubtedly thousands of pounds more expensive than buying a petrol car, as we’ve all seen someone’s old Honda Jazz or Vauxhall Corsa parked up on the side of the road with a number scribbled on in marker pen. Although yes that would be a second-hand car, you can still buy one of these small city cars new for under £10,000. Therefore thinking about a direct initial cost comparison, electric cars might be out of reach for a first-time buyer.
Insurance for both is pretty similar so the other comparison we can make is the cost of petrol or electricity. Well according to The Guardian, for every 100 miles travelled an electric car will only cost you £3-4, compared to around £15 in a petrol car. However even with this huge saving on mileage, my haphazard math calculates that you’d still have to travel over 50,000 miles in your electric car in order to break even on your costs.
Factors to consider
Other things to consider include what kind of car you want. There are thousands of different makes and models to choose from if you stick with a classic petrol or diesel car. You can customise your car to however you want it; change the colour, interior and pretty much anything else. With electric cars, there are significantly fewer available on the market and if you’re working on a strict budget that narrows your field of options even more. But almost every car manufacturer offers something, so at the end of the day, it’s not like you’d be stuck choosing between just one or two cars.
Refueling or ‘recharging’ your car is the final difference between the two. The world is awash with petrol stations so we all know there’s no trouble there, but how easy it is to find a station to recharge your electric car? Well surprisingly: not that hard. Most petrol stations now have an area where you can recharge your car and many car parks have specific parking spaces for electric vehicles now too. I was surprised when in the tiny car park opposite my student house in Sheffield they installed two charging points for electric cars, in a car park with no more than twenty spaces in total.
Plus with electric cars getting many more miles to the gallon – or the electrical equivalent – you won’t have to refuel as often as you would in a petrol car.
Making electric cars affordable for young people
Factoring in all of these differences the main consideration is money. If you’re very climate-conscious then an electric car may be the right choice for you: they’re a million miles better (pardon the pun) for the environment and a good solution if you want to reduce your carbon footprint but can’t face having to ride a bicycle to work every day.
Personally, I think I will buy an electric car in the future, however probably not for my first car. In the long run, I think electric cars will eventually become the norm and it will be young people leading the charge for making this change.
As a first-time car buyer, money is my big issue so I’ll probably end up getting one of those second-hand cars parked on the side of the road. But I’d like to think that once I start earning properly an electric car will be something I’ll seriously consider. It might take a few more years but I’ll certainly be watching out for the new models. At the end of the day a car’s a car and if you’re making the world a better place simply by driving around, where’s the harm in that?