Best electric cars 2021
The best electric cars are... simply good cars that just happen to be powered by a battery pack and an electric motor. So they are practical, have comfortable interiors and good levels of equipment. Electric vehicles are great fun to drive thanks to their immediate acceleration and the cars here have decent a decent range too.
Everything you need to know about going electric
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Electric car FAQs
There are lots of people who are open to the idea of an electric car as their next car, but many still have unanswered questions about what making that transition will actually mean for them on a day-to-day basis. Where and when do I charge it? Will it be safe? Will running an electric car actually work out any cheaper in the long run? Will it actually be any better for the environment?
Read on for answers to all those questions and more, to see whether electric motoring really is for you.
The amount of time that it takes to charge your electric car varies based on car’s battery capacity and the power of the charging point, but figuring it out should be pretty simple a pretty simple calculation. For example, if your car has a 70kW (kilowatt) battery and is plugged into a 7kWh (kilowatt/hour) charger then it will take ten hours to charge from empty to full. For more details read our blog: How long does it take to charge an electric car
How much it costs to charge an electric car depends on the type of electric car you drive, the batteries it has and where you buy the electricity from.
You can charge your car at home, at a public charging point or at fast-charging points at motorway service stations and each entail slightly different costs. Generally, charging at home is the cheapest but you will probably need to install a charging point.
For more details read our blog: How much does it cost to charge an electric car
How far an electric car can go on a single charge varies depending on the car you drive, how you drive it and the conditions in which you drive it – much like a petrol or diesel car, in fact. You can use our electric car battery range calculator to compare different options and find the right car to match your mileage needs.
Most modern electric cars can go well over 100 miles between charges, with the many of the latest cars having a ‘range’ of around 250 miles.
For more details read our blog: How far can an electric car go
To find out where you can find a charging point, take a look at our electric cars charging points finder.
To find out if an electric car is for you, use the carwow Fuel Chooser.
Owning an electric car brings quite a lot of benefits, including zero emissions, low running costs and the ability to stick your foot down for eye-opening acceleration without the usual histrionics.
Better still, an EV will save you even more money in tax — be it as a personal vehicle or a company car.
Read our in-depth advice guide to see how much you could save: How much does it cost to tax an electric car?
The interest-free Electric Vehicle Loan, funded by Transport Scotland (an agency of the Scottish Government), currently offers loans of up to £35,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a new pure electric/plug-in hybrid car or up to £10,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a new electric motorcycle or scooter.
If you can’t find your nearest charger, carwow has a handy Electric Car Charging Points Map. It knows every electric car charging point in the UK and even lets you search by town, city and/or postcode.
In a word, yes. Well, in as much as any car is. After all, any object so big and heavy travelling at speed is always going to carry risks of potential injury for anyone – or anything – it hits.
For those inside the car, however, it’s thought that EVs are actually safer than their conventionally powered counterparts. This is because an EV’s big, heavy battery pack is normally incorporated into the central structure of the car, usually in the floor, and this provides extra stiffness to the car’s bodyshell, meaning better protection of the passenger compartment in a crash. Look at the Euro NCAP website, and you’ll notice that all dedicated EVs tested (with the exception of the Chinese-manufactured Aiways U5) score the full five-star rating.
Some worry about the risk of fire that the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs carry; after all, there have been well-documented cases of such batteries catching fire in phones and laptops, so what’s to stop it happening in a car? Well, manufacturers use a wide range of measures to prevent this happening, including super-strong steel casings to prevent damage, separation of cells to prevent fire spreading, and a whole host of fuses, circuit breakers and cooling systems. In fact, research suggests that EVs are actually less likely to catch fire than conventional cars as they don’t carry flammable petrol or diesel.
No. In actual fact, they’re usually a little bit more expensive to insure than a comparable petrol or diesel car.
There are a couple of reasons for this, the most influential being the cost of repair. Electric cars have fewer moving parts than conventional cars, meaning there’s less to go wrong, but some of the components they do have – the lithium-ion batteries being case-in-point – are enormously expensive to repair or replace if they do become damaged. Another factor that’s not often talked about is the availability of technicians qualified to work on electric cars, as these are far lower in number than those who can repair regular cars, which also pushes costs up.
It’s worth bearing in mind that there are companies that specialise in providing insurance for electric cars, and going with one of these could drop your premiums significantly. Even with these providers, though, it’s essential you shop around for the best deal. What’s more, all the usual tricks for dropping your premiums still apply with electric cars. Consider paying up front rather than monthly, or getting a black box or dashcam fitted.
But the fact remains that while electric cars do reduce daily running costs in most areas, insurance isn’t one of them, sadly.
Read more on electric car insurance here.
All cars – electric or otherwise – lose their value to some degree over time. This is known as depreciation. The question is, is the natural deprecation on electric cars any heavier than on conventionally powered cars?
Well, the depreciation on any particular make and model of car depends on a wide number of variables, including how desirable it is and how dependable it is perceived to be. And a few years ago, when the first electric vehicles appeared on the market, depreciation on them was very heavy indeed. This was because car buyers had very little appetite for electric cars due to the difficulties over range and recharging, as well as a general lack of understanding on the realities of electric motoring.
These days, however, that situation has pretty much turned on its head. The cars have got better – in terms of range, quality and appeal – the charging infrastructure has improved, and the general public now has a better understanding of – and openness to – electric motoring. This means there’s now much more appetite for electric cars, both new and used, to the point where many now hold their value better than conventional cars. And as time goes on and electric motoring becomes more and more established, this gap will only get bigger.
It is true that batteries lose capacity over time, and the more often they’re charged up, the quicker this happens. However, it’s important to realise that not all charges are the same, and the way you charge your car is a lot more important in conserving battery life than how often you charge it.
What you want to avoid, if your use of the car allows, is regularly charging up to 100% and depleting the battery down to 0%. This is the quickest way to shorten the life of your battery. Instead, try only topping your battery up to around 80%, and not letting it drop below 20% before recharging if you can. It’s also worth noting that the smaller you can make this window, and the closer that window is to the middle of the scale, the healthier your battery will be ( keeping the charge between 60% and 40% will be even better, for example).
Most electric cars these days come with associated smartphone apps that let you limit the amount of power the car takes on when it’s plugged in, and this should help you manage the maximum end of the scale, while keeping an eye on your instruments, not to mention sufficient journey planning, should take care of the lower end.
For many would-be electric motorists, this will be the million-dollar question, yet it’s also the one that there’s probably most argument over. Supporters of electric mobility will tell you that having fewer cars chucking out CO2 into the atmosphere can’t help but cut down on greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, sceptics will argue that electric cars take more energy to build in the first place, and that having more of them on the road just means an increased burden on the national grid, meaning more CO2 emissions from the coal-fired power stations that make the electricity used to charge them. So, who’s right?
Unfortunately, nobody really knows for sure. Countless studies have provided evidence on both sides, but it’s such a complex equation with so many variables that nobody has managed to prove their case conclusively.
What you can say with confidence, though, is that electric cars definitely improve local environments. If you ignore carbon dioxide for a moment, petrol and diesel cars kick out all sorts of other pollutants (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulates, etc) that pollute the atmosphere and can cause breathing difficulties for those in the vicinity.
And the bigger picture? Well, as fossil fuel reserves run dry, power producers will have no choice but to move towards more renewable energy sources, so as power stations become greener in future, so will electric motoring.