Benefits of electric cars

Despite the higher price tag than conventional cars, there are plenty of advantages to switching to an electric vehicle (EV).

goco author
Updated 20 July 2021  | 4 min read

What are the benefits of electric cars?

As well as being a more environmentally-friendly way to drive, going electric can also save you money on everything from fuel costs and car maintenance to road tax and congestion charges

The government offers grants towards the cost of buying a new EV and they can even be a more pleasant, responsive and quieter drive.

Key points

  • Although electric cars cost more to buy than their petrol or diesel equivalent they might work out cheaper in the long run and government grants are available
  • Electricity is cheaper than diesel or petrol, and EVs are also exempt from road tax, congestion charges and some parking charges
  • They have fewer moving parts to service than petrol or diesel engines,  so they cost less to maintain and have a smoother and quieter ride

Benefits for the environment and for you, when you buy an electric car

Electric cars produce no tailpipe emissions, so by switching you’re doing your bit for the planet and for people’s health.

Petrol and diesel exhaust fumes pumped into the atmosphere contribute to climate change and pose significant risks to public health.

This air pollution is linked with causing or exacerbating respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies, as well as heart disease and cancers.

Savings on congestion charges

All pure electric cars, along with certain plug-in hybrids, are currently exempt from paying London’s daily congestion charge under The Cleaner Vehicle Discount, but you’ll need to apply for it. 

EVs are also exempt from the additional daily ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) charge. It operates in the same area as the Congestion Charge and applies to vehicles that don’t meet specified low emission standards.

From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ will expand from central London to create a larger, chargeable zone which will reach up to (but not include) the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205).

Again, electric vehicles will be free to drive in that area without charge but it’s worth checking whether your vehicle is eligible just in case.

Birmingham also has a Clean Air Zone, and Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone is set to be operational in August 2021. 

Potentially lower running and maintenance costs

Cheaper to power

Electric cars are less expensive to refuel than petrol or diesel cars because electricity is cheaper. 

The savings you make will depend on where you charge your car. At-home charging is the cheapest option, especially if you’re on a good value energy tariff or a specialist EV smart energy deal which offers cheap  or even free electricity at certain times.

If you use more costly public charge points a lot - at places like motorway service stations or car parks - you can expect your savings to be less.  

If you’re thinking of trading in your car for an electric model, Zap-Map’s handy journey cost calculator could help you with your research. It lets you calculate the savings you could make on a typical journey from a list of new or used plug-in EVs compared with your car’s current petrol or diesel costs.

Your driving style will also affect your battery’s energy consumption. Fast speeds and acceleration will drain your battery more quickly than a slower, smoother drive.

Free charging

Many workplaces offer free or low-cost electric car charging points to employees and some local authorities provide free charge points in public car parks. You can also find free charging in retail car parks, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, garden centres, attractions and leisure centres.

Zap-Map found that out of over 21,000 charging points mapped on its system, just over 4,900 are free to use.

To find free charge points, select ‘free to use’ in the payment filter on the Zap-Map app or on the website map.

Zero road tax 

Vehicle Excise Duty (car or road tax) rates are based on a vehicle’s CO2 emissions. All fully-electric vehicles are exempt from paying and hybrid vehicles currently get a £10 discount on the petrol and diesel car rate.

Less maintenance and easier servicing

Electric motors only have a handful of moving parts, compared with a petrol or diesel engine, which have hundreds. This means there are less things to get damaged or worn out on an EV.

There’ll be no need to worry about engine oil or cam belt changes and spark plug replacements. And with fewer parts to check during the service theirs usually far less repair work, so servicing your EV should be cheaper.

Could your EV earn you money?

Availability is currently limited but some energy suppliers have been developing ‘Vehicle to Grid’ (V2G) offers for customers. It's an extension of smart charging that allows you to connect your EV to the grid to release power into it when supply is low and demand high. You will be paid a fee for this ‘balancing’ service.

Nicer to drive

Most drivers say that EVs are just more enjoyable to drive than conventional cars:

  • A quieter, almost silent, drive thanks to the electric motor
  • EVs have powerful motors that make acceleration instant 
  • The battery of an EV, placed in the car’s floor, ensures a low centre of gravity which makes them more stable
  • Regenerative braking kicks in when you ease off the accelerator or brake and tops up your battery by converting the excess energy into power

Government funding towards a home charging point

It is possible to charge your car at home using a normal three-point plug, but a specialist higher-powered home EV charger is better for quicker, safer charging. 

The government offers discounts on the installation of an EV home charger via its Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. If you own or lease an EV and have off-street parking (a drive or garage), you can get a 75% contribution (capped at £350 including VAT) towards the cost of a home charge point and its installation. 

You can get up to £2,500 off the purchase price of an EV

Cars with a recommended retail price of up to £35,000, which have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and that can travel for at least 70 miles (112km) without any emissions qualify for a grant of 35% off, up to a maximum discount of £2,500.

Free parking

Charging your EV at a public chargepoint sometimes means you get free parking. 

And some local borough councils allow electric cars to park for free (or at heavily discounted rates) in public car parking spaces, whether plugged in to a charge point or not.

Increasing resale values

Cars lose value the moment they’re driven off the forecourt. 

At first, being fairly niche, electric cars didn’t hold their value well because there wasn’t a huge market for them. But thanks to government incentives, more awareness of climate change and congestion charges, more people are looking to buy electric. And opting for a used EV is an affordable way into the market.

So, with more demand, EVs are retaining their value much better and on a par with their petrol and diesel counterparts. 

As time moves on, and with the UK government set to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel models in 2030, forecasters predict that EVs will hold their value much better. Petrol and diesel cars, meanwhile, will have progressively lower resale values.

Petrol car hire for longer trips

New electric vehicles can travel from between 130 up to 300 miles on a full charge. But if you need to go further than the full charge your EV will allow, then it’s good to know that some leasing contracts offer the use of a petrol car  for longer journeys.

Should I buy an EV now?

With the 2030s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars fast approaching, electric and hybrid car sales are on the rise.

According to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 17.1% of all new cars on the road in June 2021 were electric vehicles.

Find out the changing trends in electric car sales, as well as the most popular brand and model of EV car in the UK.

Insurance prices are also a coming down, which might help you decide that an EV's is right for you. Make sure you check the cost of electric and hybrid car insurance to see how they compare.

[1]Zap-Map, Free EV charging points. As of January 2021