Forget the image of the electric car as slow, with a very limited range, designed and driven by eccentric engineers – those days are long gone.
Now the really clued-up city driver is only too keen to be seen in one of the cool new models on the market, and the major manufacturers are competing with one another to bring forward the latest in design and new battery technology. And apart from being environmentally friendly, electric cars are serious money-savers.
For a start, if you choose a model that qualifies for a government grant,
you would be eligible to receive 25% of the total purchase price up to a maximum of £5,000. There is no car tax to pay on plug-in cars, and if you drive in London you are exempt from the congestion charge. Many areas also offer free parking. Combined with very low insurance costs, most commentators calculate that you can save yourself around £4,500 annually in motoring costs by choosing to drive an electric car. If this seems like an attractive proposition, take a look at the top ten plug-in cars on the UK market:
This is a brand new electric supermini that has an official range of 130 miles – one of the longest ranges for any EV that is currently on sale – and costs just £13,995, plus battery hire from £70 per month (see photo above).
Read our Renault ZOE review and road test >>
The five-door Nissan LEAF has just been revised, with its range being improved from 109 miles to 124 miles. It has a nifty top speed of 90mph, and gets from 0-62 mph in 11.9 seconds, comparing well with a conventional small family saloon.
Read more about the Nissan LEAF >>
The Vauxhall Ampera (or the Chevrolet Volt) is an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle, or an E-REV. It’s an electric car at all times – you can drive up to 50 miles on electric power, then if the battery is depleted, the petrol generator takes over to power the electric motor.
Read our Vauxhall Ampera road test >>
The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is based on the well-known Prius hybrid but the difference is that you can plug it in to get an extended all-electric range. When the battery is empty, it reverts back to using its petrol engine.
Read our Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid review >>
The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid may surprise people – it’s a Volvo estate with a powerful diesel engine, but it also has a plug-in hybrid capability to give it the ability to run purely on electric power, when it has zero-tailpipe emissions.
Read our article + video of the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid >>
With its cheeky styling and ability to squeeze into the smallest parking space, the Smart fortwo electric drive will appeal to many. It’s first and foremost a vehicle designed for the urban environment, with a more limited range than some of its competitors, and slower acceleration. On sale now, it’s offered in both coupe and a stylish cabrio design.
The Mia city car, being launched in the UK this year, is very Gallic in its innovative and space-saving design. It seats four, with sliding doors, and the driver sits centre front, giving an excellent all-round view. There is enough room in the cabin to provide an office-type environment in the back, with space to mount an iPad. Like the Smart fortwo the Mia is unashamedly built for urban traffic conditions, with a top speed of 68 mph.
are both essentially rebadged versions of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV which is itself based on the Mitsubishi petrol-powered city car. All three cars have a range of 100 miles before recharging.
This information was provided to you by Allianz Your Cover ( www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk