Electric cars are more popular than ever on the UK’s roads. In 2013, there were 3,500 – now, just three years later, the amount of plug-in cars has increased to almost 90,000.
Government grants (guaranteed until 2018) are proving a powerful motivator, as are the increasing number of electric charging points. There are now 11,873 chargers across Britain, with the government recently pledging £390m to create more.
In fact, there’s never been a better time to consider going electric. So if you’re looking to reduce your impact on the environment, what are this year’s best electric car buys?
BMW has released an electric city car, and predictably it’s dazzled everyone with its futuristic looks and agility. It’s also capable of 125 miles from a single charge, and can go up to 93 mph on the motorway. Inside, the onboard tech is geared towards electric driving, giving you information about nearby charging points. At £35,000 it’s not cheap, but for that you get the precision engineering BMW is renowned for, and, remember – no fuel costs. Ever.
At the more affordable end of the scale, the Renault ZOE is a smart electric hatchback that gives a smooth and almost silent drive. Thanks to a new battery called the Z.E 40, higher spec models are capable of a 250-mile driving range (however, this varies depending on other factors, like temperature, topography and driving speed). Still, the ZOE is just £13,995 for an entry-level model and Renault even installs a home charger for speedy power-ups in between drives.
The electric version of the VW Golf doesn’t have a huge range (only 80 miles), but it’s perfect for short journeys, and has the excellent build you would expect from Volkswagen. With sporty alloy wheels, a luxurious interior with some nice style touches like white instrument lighting and contrast stitching, plus the latest tech, it’s the smart way to go electric.
If you’re looking for an electric car with space, headroom and fun touches (the ‘speakers that light up when you play music’ kind of fun), then the 5-door Kia Soul has it all. This compact SUV boasts a respectable range of 132 miles, and is designed with a black front grille and a boxy, urban look, so it’s perfect for style and environment-conscious city commuters.
The keyless, USB connected Nissan Leaf is capable of impressive instant torque and acceleration, and corners well thanks to its low, weighted chassis. It’s a good looking and modern city car, with a range of 124 miles and a battery warranty that lasts for 5 years (or 60,000 miles). As with many electric cars, with the Nissan Leaf, you lease the battery, which keeps prices more affordable.
This high specification electric version could easily pass as a traditional Ford Focus, if it wasn’t for the electric socket and the fact that the engine is almost silent. Okay, so at over £33,000, it’s the most expensive Ford Focus you could buy, but this sleek 5-door hatchback is an electric family car with real sophistication.
The Hyundai Ioniq is one of the standout electric cars out there at the moment, with a 174-mile range, luxurious interior and clever features like regenerative braking and a climate control system. Like many EVs, it’s great for city driving thanks to its instant torque, and it can also withstand longer journeys before it needs to be charged. It also comes with LED lights, full Apple and Android connectivity and a reversing camera as standard.