We can all agree that petrol and diesel engine cars are no good for the quality of our air or the health of the planet. But when it comes to electric vehicles, there’s a lot to get your head around. Electric car news seems to forget where the batteries come from, and then there’s the high electric car prices to consider. Going electric isn’t as cut and dried as many news outlets make out.

The upside of an electric car

Electric vehicle technology has come a long way over the past decade or so. Electric cars are fun to drive and battery ranges are improving too. The UK Zap Map lists every electric car charging point in the country, so it’s simple to find your closest point. There are so many of them that you’re unlikely to get caught with a dead battery.

The UK government have even been running an electric vehicle homecharge scheme. This lets people have a home charge point installed at their property and receive 75% back on the installation. That’s not to say you have a home charging point to drive an electric vehicle. Some people will be able to get by without a home charging station, so it’s not a definite expense you’ll need to consider. You can take your electric car to your local supermarket or any number of other charging points across the UK and fill up there.

In terms of the planet’s life and health, there is no denying electric cars are better. Even when you consider the high energy consumption needed for making lithium-ion batteries or recharging from a dirty energy grid, electric is better. They’re more efficient, cleaner and with zero emissions, they save lives.

As for your pocket, maintenance is generally the same, if not a little cheaper than their combustion engine counterparts. Charging costs around 80% less than filling up a petrol sister and road tax is cheaper too.

The downside of going electric

Generally speaking, you can’t go as far in an electric car on one charge as you can on a tank of petrol or diesel. What’s more, re-fuelling an electric vehicle is going to take a LOT longer than a petrol or diesel car. There are different levels of chargers, and you can opt for faster charging, which can give you up to 80% battery power in 30 minutes. However, for a good solid energy infusion with a standard charger, you may be looking at up to eight hours of recharge time. Technology is moving ahead, so it is more than likely this will change with time.

The upfront cost of an electric set of wheels can be inhibitive. The cheapest electric car on the market at the time of writing was the Skoda CitiGOe iV. This smart little 5-door hatch will set you back around £15,000 new. It’ll go for about 170 miles before it needs a charge.

Of course, you could opt for a pre-loved electric. If you do, you’ll want to consider how much life is left in the battery warranty – this is usually different from the car’s warranty. As you know, even rechargeable batteries don’t last forever. When electric cars need a new one, you’ll need to arrange for recycling of the old and replacement with a new.

Things to consider before you go electric

Before you rush out to buy an electric set of wheels, consider the average amount of miles you do in a week. Knowing this will help you when it comes to deciding the lowest range and smallest battery you could manage.

Check out the government grants that are available. The electric vehicle homecharge scheme won’t be around forever. It’s perfectly conceivable, however, that the government will introduce other incentives, so check for these before you buy.

Figure out how often and where you’ll charge your wheels. If it’s going to be a once or twice a week event, it’s fairly simple to include this as part of your weekly shop or some other activity you already take part in.

Consider how many long journeys you do in a year and if your route may need to change. Checking for charging points before you go on any long journeys is certainly advisable! The rapid charge network is still developing so access to Zap Map, the Wattsapp charging app and plugshare can be invaluable.

Kind to the planet alternatives to an electric car

An electric car isn’t the only way to go green for the planet. Hydrogen cars are another option that is clean. Angelina Jolie famously arrived at the premiere of Ocean’s 13 in a BMW Hydrogen 7.

The advantage of hydrogen over electric has to be the refuelling time. It takes just minutes to pump hydrogen into the tank. The downside is the access to fuelling stations – there are just 14 in Britain and a single one in Northern Ireland. Hydrogen cars are quiet and easy to drive. There are no gears – same as most electric cars. Unlike electric cars, hydrogen vehicles do have emissions, but it’s just water vapour – nothing to lower the quality of our air or the planet’s health.

If you are interested in hydrogen-powered wheels, check out Hyundai and Toyota. They’re the only brands selling hydrogen models in the UK. For now, if you want to go green with your wheels, it seems like an electric car may well be the answer.

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