As the electric car market continues to grow, the quest for the cheapest electric car will become more complicated, with more and more car manufacturers joining the party offering excellent deals for customers - even before UK government and overseas government subsidies. Although historically, it has been relatively expensive to acquire an electric car, the cheapest electric car on the market today will cost you significantly less than five years ago or 10 years ago and the introduction of a secondary trading market for electric cars is also having an impact.
What to look for in an electric car
While the cheapest electric car on the market may well be attracting the attention of consumers around the world, with the Nissan Leaf seen by many as offering the best value, there are a number of issues which you need to be aware of when acquiring an electric car. Trying to balance durability, service, reliability and other issues against the price of an electric car is not always easy but you need to look at the overall picture.
There is no doubt that the electric car market in the UK especially is showing significant signs of growth and the introduction of the Nissan Leaf this month, at a cost of around £23,350, has certainly caught the eye of many consumers. Even though this purchase figure includes a £5000 grant from the UK government, which is likely to continue for some time but not indefinitely, it does compare favourably to the cost of traditional new vehicles. Japanese manufacturers such as Nissan have for many years had a great reputation in the car market for durable, mass-market and highly reliable vehicles. It would appear that this particular characteristic of Japanese manufacturers has never been more prevalent than today.
While there are many ongoing fights within the electric car industry to try and balance the weight issue against the service issue against the cost issue, consumers around the world have no interest in the underlying battle. Therefore it is vital that any electric vehicle which you acquire offers the services you want and you should not be forced to scrimp on your hopes. While this can be difficult in some situations, you should compare an electric vehicle and the services on offer against a traditional petrol/diesel vehicle or even one of the modern hybrid cars. Just because it is an electric vehicle does not mean to say that you should accept "substandard" services or systems.
Durability and reliability are pretty much joined at the hip with regards to the electric car market and the introduction of electric car charging points up and down the UK has made a major difference to the way UK consumer view the electric car market. Historically, well at least over the last few years, it has been difficult to make long-distance journeys with an electric vehicle for fear of having no access to electric charging points. However, slowly but surely we are seeing vast improvements in this particular area of the electric car industry, with the UK government and other governments around the world very keen to continue their good work so far.
As with any consumer item, cost will always play major role when choosing an electric vehicle and it should be no different in the markets of today. The days when electric vehicles were significantly more expensive than traditional petrol/diesel or hybrid vehicles have gone and vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, which many believe will become the most popular electric car in the world, are very competitively priced.
However, on a slightly negative note it is worth noting that the cost of the Nissan Leaf, around £23,350, is arrived at after deducting the £5000 grant currently on offer by the UK government. This grant is unlikely to last forever and a day, therefore if you are looking to acquire an electric vehicle in the short to medium term perhaps you need to do this before any grant system is reduced or further conditions are added.
Popular electric vehicles
There are many electric vehicles on the road today and there are also many new brands about to be launched by well-known companies around the world. However, which vehicles are grabbing the headlines and which vehicles offer excellent value for money?
Nissan Leaf Electric Car
As we touched on above, the Nissan Leaf is by far and away the most popular electric vehicle in the mass-market as we stand today. It is the result of a Nissan – Renault alliance which has seen the powerhouses of the traditional car industry join forces to launch the Nissan Leaf in the U.S., Japan and the UK. The vehicle was effectively sold out in the U.S. before it had even entered the showrooms, with over 13,000 reservations and a further 6,000 reservations in Japan. The situation the UK is expected to be very similar with the Nissan – Renault alliance publicity machine certainly in full swing. Nissan has been incredibly successful in the past with the likes of the Nissan Micra, which sold massive numbers to the masses, and many expect further success with the Nissan Leaf.
G-Wiz Electric Car
The G-Wiz Electric Car may not be as well-known or popular as the Nissan Leaf but there is no doubt that imports of the G-Wiz Electric Car continue to grow and demand is set to flourish in the future. It is to all intents and purposes one of the smaller electric vehicles available today which was designed in California, built in India and is imported into the UK by a company called GoinGreen. Despite the fact it is relatively small compared to other electric vehicles and traditional vehicles, it is able to seat two adults and two children and is more than suitable for driving around town where parking spaces may be at a premium and highly efficient and highly reliable vehicles are in demand.
The G-Wiz Electric Car is one of a small number of vehicles in the UK which are exempt from the London congestion charge and indeed a number of councils have announced free parking spaces for such cars. There is no doubt that the authorities are very keen, especially in congested areas such as London, for highly efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles to become more commonplace. This can only help demand for the G-Wiz Electric Car which can be charged via a standard 13 amp socket and is able to retain an 80% charge after just two hours recharging. A typical charge for the G-Wiz Electric Car will cost in the region of 30p to 50p.
MEGA City Car Electric Car
The MEGA City Car is a vehicle which has been in the press for some time and will become the focal point of the electric car industry with regards to BMW. Despite the fact that there has been much publicity for this particular vehicle, and many expect it to be very competitively priced, it is unlikely that we will see any realistic prototype of the MEGA City Car before the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It is believed that BMW is planning to showcase the MEGA City Car during the 2012 games which should lead to mass production in 2013 although we may well see a rebranding of the MEGA City Car name. However, the very fact that this will be BMW's first zero emissions mass produced vehicle is very much a milestone for the company and the industry. The fact that companies with a stature such as BMW are most certainly looking towards the electric car market is further recognition of the fact that this is an industry which is now here to stay.
Pricing may well be an issue with regards to the Mega City vehicle, with the company having to think long and hard about retaining a luxury/premium rating for its vehicles while also attracting the mass-market. Many people have their eyes on the body of the MEGA City Car which is likely to be very lightweight but very strong, very aerodynamic and very easy on the eye. We await the unveiling of the final prototype of the MEGA City Car with anticipation!
TH!NK City Electric Car
The TH!NK City Electric Car is available in many parts of the world, with 2011 pencilled in as the delayed launch date for the UK market. However, if the reviews of the TH!NK City Electric Car are anything to go by then this is most certainly a vehicle worth waiting for and one which will be competitively priced compared to other electric vehicles in the UK, a market which is currently dominated by the Nissan Leaf. It is also worth noting that the TH!NK City Electric Car is one of the few cars which will be available in the UK which has been officially recognised by the UK authorities with regards to its environmentally friendly characteristics and low emissions offering.
Those who also have an interest in recycling, as well as the environment, will be pleased to learn that the TH!NK City Electric Car will be 95% recyclable and emission free. The energy efficiency rating for this particular vehicle is estimated at three times that of a traditional combustion engine and it is likely to be one of a whole range of TH!NK City Electric Cars for the future. The vehicle has a top speed of 65 mph, can accelerate from 0 to 30 mph in just 6.5 seconds and to 50 mph in 16 seconds. The vehicle itself can travel over 120 miles between recharging of the batteries and a full recharge will only take around four hours. While the Nissan Leaf Electric vehicle has the market to itself at the moment, many expect the TH!NK City Electric Car, amongst others, to offer some stiff competition in the future.
The future of electric vehicles in the UK
There is no doubt that the UK authorities are adamant that the UK car sector will be revamped and reinvigorated by the electric car industry. For many years now we have seen a constant reduction in the power and the size of the UK car industry but the authorities are offering significant tax breaks and investment loans for electric car companies looking to build their products in the UK. Nissan has been one of the more successful joint ventures with the UK government and the introduction of the award-winning Nissan Leaf Electric car certainly gives hope for the future. The authorities in the UK, and many overseas, have also offered tax breaks and grants for those looking to swap from petrol/diesel vehicles to electric vehicles and this is likely to continue for some time to come.
Many experts believe that the electric car industry has gone well beyond the point of no return and despite a number of false dawns in the past, electric vehicles of today are now more recognised and more accepted by consumers around the world. The subject of emissions and environmentally friendly products is in the headlines of the news and the press every day and has most certainly had a major impact upon the worldwide car industry. Governments around the world are under intense pressure to reduce their overall emissions and starting with electric vehicles there is no doubt this will be money well spent.
Despite the fact that the Nissan Leaf has the UK market to itself at the moment due to a massive advertising and public relations campaign, there will be competition in the future. However, Nissan has a history of producing mass-market vehicles which appeal to the masses and the Nissan Leaf Electric car is certainly the first in this particular area but it will not be the last. In some areas of business, being first to the market can be detrimental in the medium to longer term but the very fact that the electric car industry has had a number of false dawns in the past, although most certainly the race has begun, this would appear to be nothing to worry about.
The short to medium term cost of electric vehicles in the UK will be dominated by tax breaks and grants paid out by the UK authorities, although in the longer term as competition and demand continues to grow, we will see genuine price competition in the sector. The overall winners from more competition in the electric car industry will be consumers and most definitely the environment.