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Electric and Hybrid Car Buying Guide for 2021

Ever since the PM announced his ten-point “Green Industrial Revolution” plan back in 2020, the stakes have never been higher for the motoring industry. With the date now set for the 2030 ban of new diesel and petrol vehicles, the race to upgrade to an electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid is well and truly on.

Motorway service stations, supermarket car parks and even everybody’s favourite Swedish flat-pack shop are all home to an array of charging points. Even the country’s infrastructure is gearing up for the change. Are you ready for it?

Here is our electric and hybrid car buying guide for 2021:

Know your options

No one can forget the reign of the Toyota Prius. A first of its kind, the iconic hybrid was the hippest, trendiest, eco-friendly car money could buy at the time. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, the likes of Tesla, Nissan and Renault have been dominating the EV market.

With Elon Musk leading the charge, concerns over limited range have become less of a worry for most drivers, as driving ranges have started to go beyond the 300-mile mark before needing a re-charge.

With all the progressive changes happening in the industry, there are a series of acronyms you should be aware of:

  • Electric Vehicle (EV)
  • Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
  • Hybrid (HEV)
  • Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV)
  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Range-extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV)
  • Hydrogen Vehicle (FCEV)

But we’d like to draw your attention to the big three. To make it easier for you, we’ve summarised each of them below:

  1. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): The big one. Not only are BEVs attractive for their zero emission status, but they are solely powered by an internal electric motor/battery. Simply plug into an external source of electric power, and away you go when fully charged.
  2. Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs): Part petrol/diesel engine, part chargeable battery, a PHEV can be driven using either power source. Unlike pure EVs, this vehicle can only claim zero emissions status when it’s driven in electric-only mode. Similarly, RE-EVs use engines/fuel cells to charge up the batteries for lasting power on the road.
  3. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs): HEVs can’t be plugged in and charged. Instead, they use the energy from braking/cruising as a power source. Hence often being referred to as “self-charging” hybrids.

Electric vs hybrid

Like any traditional combustion engine car, EVs and hybrids come in all shapes and sizes. From the family-friendly SUV to the high-octane sports car, finding the EV that is best for you will depend on a variety of factors. You may want to consider:

  • Average daily mileage
  • The type of driving you do
  • Access to public or private charging points
  • Passenger capacity

Having the proper infrastructure available before you invest in an EV or hybrid may well be your first stumbling block. So ensure you have all the kit you need before bringing your new vehicle home.

In terms of investment buys, hybrids do have a shelf life. Unlike pure electric vehicles, which rely on batteries or electricity alone, hybrids still require fossil fuels to make them function. With the looming 2030 ban on its way, new plug-in hybrid cars and vans will still be available as long as they can drive a “significant distance” with zero carbon emissions from the tailpipe. The only snag, all hybrids will only remain on sale until 2035.

The obvious point here is that your best investment lies in the EV market. Even now, you have access to all the big towns and cities throughout the UK without added taxes to enter and other perks such as zero or limited road tax.

Plug-in grants, schemes and initiatives

After the success of London’s world-leading initiative Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), the rest of the country is quickly following suit. Within its first year, the programme saw a significant decrease in illegal toxic pollution that has been plaguing the city for years, with its fixed daily charges in place for any vehicles that don’t meet strict emission standards.

Introduced back in April 2019, the ULEZ was designed to improve air quality and increase the health and wellbeing of the city’s residents. But it was the 360 primary schools located within the area that caused the biggest stir. High levels of Nitrous Oxide (NO2) are not only harmful to underlying health conditions but they slow down lung development. Safe to say, action had to be taken.

To keep in line with strict Euro emission policies and the UK’s own push for a green future, most of the country’s major cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Oxford, now have their own versions of the scheme.

With the government applying so much pressure to drivers and investing in a landscape changing infrastructure to match, a Plug-in grant is currently available of up to £2,500. Although most EV cars are eligible, make sure you check the government’s pre-approved list before making any decisions.

Buying options

There’s never been a better time to invest in a new electric or hybrid vehicle. What with all the added emissions taxes to simply visit a city, and Plug-in grants available to soften the blow. Although the incentives might be there, actually buying a vehicle is a whole other story.

So what options are available to you? Well, the same ones that have always been there for buying any vehicle. Whether you want to place a cash payment, get a bank loan or snap up a fantastic finance package, there are several options to choose from.

Financing a new EV or hybrid not only makes it more affordable in the long run, but you have more choice. What’s more, most reputable online dealers will often sign off your loan on the same day. Unlike a bank loan where you have to have the vehicle you want already in mind, financing allows you more flexibility, and minimal waiting time.

When financing seems too overwhelming due to poor credit history, missed payments, or a situation that was entirely out of your control (such as COVID-19), bad credit car financing is now available from specialist lenders. They will look at your individual circumstances, such as if you are self employed, have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) or rely on a series of benefits to supplement your income.

How many EVs are currently in the UK?

The UK’s motoring landscape is changing rapidly. London alone has over 20,000 electric vehicles, 1,700 electric taxis and Europe’s largest electric bus fleet operating to serve public usage. That’s before you consider the 200,000+ privately owned EVs snaking their way through the city daily.

As of the end of May 2021, registered electric vehicle numbers in the UK looked like this:

  • Plug-in vehicles: Over 515,000 registered
  • BEVs: Nearly 260,000 registered
  • PHEVs: Over 280,000 registered

Despite the coronovirus devastating the world over, the UK saw the biggest annual increase of electric vehicle registrations ever – more than 175,000 vehicles registered – a staggering 66% growth since 2019. The impact is significant, and shows no signs of slowing down either.

To put it into perspective, the UK’s biggest EV hotspots include:

  • Birmingham: nearly 19,000 registered EVs
  • Peterborough: 11,450 registered EVs
  • Slough: 8,470 EVs registered EVs
  • Milton Keynes: over 6,700 registered EVs
  • Swindon: over 5,200 registered EVs
  • Renfrewshire: over 3,000 registered EVs
  • Forest of Dean: nearly 3,000 registered EVs

As more and more cities roll out their Clean Air Zones (CAZ), the population of EVs will sweep the nation. No longer will there be congested petrol stations, and obscene waiting times to fill up your fuel. Instead, you can charge your car overnight and make your commute with limited delays. Sounds pretty appealing to us!

Should I upgrade my vehicle?

If you are currently driving a traditional combustion vehicle, the chances are you have already felt the added burden of additional city taxes. While CAZ operating cities tend to charge £8 a day, a day in London under ULEZ will cost you £12.50 if your vehicle doesn’t comply with the strict emissions standards enforced.

While you may love your car, nothing lasts forever. With the imminent petrol and diesel ban fast approaching, there’s never been more incentive to upgrade your car to a slick zero emissions vehicle. There are also several unknowns to consider. When that all important 2030 deadline arrives, there’s no telling what additional laws may be put in place to curb emissions.

If futureproofing your driving experience is a priority to you, then we would strongly recommend looking at your EV options. Right now, there is more help available and a well established second hand EV market to consider too.

The motoring world is rapidly changing. With more and more money being pumped into EV technology and infrastructure, there’s never been a better time to buy a new EV or hybrid car. Are you ready to make the leap?