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Electric cars are growing in popularity. The best electric cars are fun to drive, extremely quiet, have no harmful emissions and are cheap to run. As technology improves, the distance electric cars can go between charges is increasing, as is the number of places where you can charge an electric car, making them more practical for many people. So if you’re considering an electric car, our team of experts have rounded-up the best models below. Read on to hear what they had to say.
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You may have heard of range anxiety - the fear of being stranded in an electric car if its batteries run out of power. Pick one of these electric cars with a long range to allay those fears.
The stylish Jaguar I-Pace tops this list thanks to its official range of nearly 300 miles. It’s just a shame it takes a long time to get to full charge.
The Renault Zoe has an official range of 250 miles pretty good for an electric car and another one of the reasons it why it won our Eco Award at the 2018 carwow Car of the Year awards. If you want to drive 250 miles in one go, however, the Zoe isn’t the most comfortable.
The Nissan Leaf won our Innovation Award at 2018’s carwow Car of the Year Awards. If that’s not enough it has a 235-mile range which is decent for an electric car and it’s also practical and affordable.
Electric SUVs combine the best of all words - great fun to drive, practical interiors and are emissions free. Bookmark this page and come back regularly as more electric SUVs come on sale.
The Hyundai Konda Electric is quick and has a long range. Its boot is smaller than the standard Kona but it's still practical enough to be a usable family car.
Boxy-yet-eye-catching, the Kia Soul is an electric SUV that's well equipped and cheap to run, even if the battery pack takes up some interior space.
Small electric cars are brilliant for zipping around towns and cities thanks to the combination of zero emissions and their great acceleration away from traffic lights and coming out of junctions. These are our best small electric cars.
The Renault Zoe is one of the cheapest routes to electric-car ownership and also one of the best electric cars period – which is why it won our Eco Award at the 2018 carwow Car of the Year Awards. It is a fantastic small electric car with stylish looks, a competitive price and low running costs.
The Nissan ‘Leaf’s’ clever e-Pedal means you can accelerate and brake just by using the accelerator pedal – a brilliant innovation that scooped it our Innovation Award at 2018’s carwow Car of the Year Awards. The Leaf costs buttons to run, is easy to drive and surprisingly nippy. Shame that its infotainment system is outdated and the interior quality is inconsistent.
If you’re looking for an upmarket small electric car that’s easy to drive and has a super stylish interior take a look at the BMW i3. Other electric cars are more comfortable, however.
Public fast-charging points are often the quickest way to top up your electric car’s batteries if you find yourself running low. You’ll most commonly find them installed in motorway service stations and public car parks.
These chargers are usually rated at 50kWh – this means they can supply a battery with 50kW of energy every hour. As a result, you can charge most electric cars from almost empty to approximately 80% charged in about half an hour.
Some manufacturers recommend you don’t use these rapid chargers too often. Overuse can damage the batteries, eventually reducing the car’s range and shortening the lifespan of the batteries. Fast charging points can be quite expensive to use, too, so you’ll probably be better off using a slower but cheaper public charging point for regular top-ups.
You’ll also be able to charge your car at other, less speedy public charging points. These usually come in 7kWh and 22kWh varieties. Using a 7 kWh charger you’ll be able to boost your car’s range by approximately 30 miles for every hour of charging, while the more powerful 22kWh chargers can add around 80 miles of range in the same period.
You can get wall chargers installed in your home or garage, too. These usually come in 7kWh and 3.7kWh outputs. The former will be just as fast as a 7kWh public charger but the slower 3.7kWh system will only be able to add around 15 miles of range every hour. You’ll still be able to charge your car from empty to 100% charged overnight, however.
These wall chargers range in price from less than £300 to more than £1,000, but the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme means you can apply for a Government grant to cover 75% of the purchase and installation cost. This grant is capped at £500.
If you don’t have a wall charger fitted your other option is to charge your car using a conventional three-pin socket. Unfortunately, these are rated at just 3kWh so fully charging your car will take significantly longer as a result. Unless you do very short journeys, it’s best to consider this a backup rather than a regular means of charging your electric car.
It depends on the type of electric car you drive, the batteries it has and where you buy the electricity from.
Take a look at your home electricity bill. You will see a price per kilowatt hour (kWh). The average price these days for your home electricity is around 13p per kWh.
You then need to look at how much electricity your car's batteries can store. Take, for example, the Nissan Leaf - its batteries have a 40kWh capacity.
To work out how much it costs to charge an electric car, you multiply the price per kilowatt hour by the capacity - in the Leaf's example that would be 13p x 40kWh = £5.20.
Charging your car at public charging stations is usually done either by paying a monthly subscription or paying for the time you use to charge your car.
Just like conventional fuel, charging your car at motorway service stations can be more expensive, so check before you travel.
Since 2011, the Government has provided a discount for buyers of low-emission vehicles, to help stimulate the market for electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
This Plug-in Car Grant of up £4500 was provided for a range of electric vehicles that emitted less than 50g/km of CO2 and could travel at least 70 miles in electric power alone. The government called the vehicles that qualified for this discount Category 1 cars.
A grant of up to £2500 off the price of a new car was available on range of hybrid cars. The Government classified these cars as Category 2 and Category 3 cars.
However, on 11 October 2018, the Government announced changes to the Plug In Car Grant scheme. From 9 November 2018 the grant for Category 1 cars is being cut to £3500, while the grant for Category 2 and 3 cars is being scrapped completely.
Category 1 cars
Cars that have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any CO2 emissions at all:
BMW i3 and i3s
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Hyundai Kona Electric
Kia Soul EV
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
Smart EQ fortwo
Smart EQ forfour
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model X
Category 2 cars
These vehicles have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 16km (10 miles) without any CO2 emissions at all:
Audi A3 e-tron
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV
Kia Niro PHEV
Kia Optima PHEV
Mercedes-Benz C350 e (with 17 inch rear wheels)
Mercedes-Benz E350 e SE
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (except Commercial)
Toyota Prius Plug-in
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Volkswagen Passat GTE
Volvo S90 Twin Engine
Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine
Volvo V60 D6 Twin Engine
Volvo V90 Twin Engine
Volvo XC60 Twin Engine
Category 3 cars
These vehicles have CO2 emissions of 50 to 75g/km and can travel at least 32km (20 miles) without any CO2 emissions at all:
Mercedes-Benz E350 e AMG Line
MINI Countryman PHEV