Electric Cars: Your Questions Answered
26th November 2020
If you thought banning sales of cars powered by petrol and diesel by 2040 seemed like science fiction, how does doing it 10 years earlier sound? That’s exactly what the government just announced, and it’s a pretty major shake-up of the way car sales are going to work.
By 2030, cars and vans that only use traditional fuels will no longer be sold in the UK. It’s all part of a huge overall “green industrial revolution” strategy, designed to tackle the most catastrophic effects of climate change while there’s still time to soften the blow.
So let’s look at what it all means. For one thing, hybrids don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. The full details haven’t come out yet, but it looks like at least some types of hybrids will be swerving around the ban. Even so, it’s still being talked about as the end of a hugely important era and a massive challenge for the whole automotive industry. Beyond that, the 2030 target date means the UK’s going to need to step up its game in a hurry to make sure we’ve got enough charge points for everyone.
What if I need to charge my car at home?
So, you’re out of juice and need to get mobile. No problem – just run an extension cord out to the driveway and plug in, right? Well, maybe. For one thing, you actually need to have a drive to make that work. That’s immediately going to prove a problem for a lot of people.
Yes, in general, you’ll probably able to use your normal mains electricity to charge your electric vehicle, but it’s not fast. In fact, you’re probably looking at least 8 hours of charge time to fuel up from a standard domestic mains supply – and potentially a lot longer.
The good news is that you can have a much faster charging point installed – and the government’s happy to help with the cost. You can technically get up to 75% of the bill paid for you. However, with a typical installation bill running to about a grand there’s a slight catch in the form of a £500 cap on what the government will pay. Even so, it’s going to be a decent option for many.
If you don’t have a drive you can charge up in, you could still run a cable out to the kerb and plug in there. Again, there are fast-charging options for this so you won’t have passers-by tripping over your wires all day.
What about the cost?
One thing you’ll probably find when you make the shift to an electric car or van is that your costs plummet. Obviously, a lot depends on your vehicle’s battery size and how low your juice is when you plug in. Even with the bigger batteries, though, you’ll still see the financial benefit over time since you’ll be charging up less often.
Since we’re talking about charging up from home here, it’s worth remembering that the same rules apply as for your normal domestic energy tariff. So, for example, if you’re on Economy 7, you can expect to save a fair amount of cash by only charging up at night when the costs drop. On average, according to Which, a typical UK driver could expect to trade in all their yearly petrol costs for an annual extra electricity bill of £450-£750.
Charging away from home
The UK already has over 30,000 charging stations for electric vehicles, with apps available to help guide you to your nearest one. With the 2030 deadline already on the horizon, you can expect the number of charging points to shoot up over the coming years. You want proof that the country’s taking this seriously? How about the 10,000 new points that popped up last year alone?
When you’re charging your car from public stations, you might find yourself dealing with more than one supplier. On top, you could either be paying as you go or using a flat-fee subscription, depending on the stations you’re using. You might have to have a specific membership deal to use certain points, and could even expect different levels of service depending on your car. Tesla, for example, has a network of “superchargers” that juice up in a fraction of the standard time. You usually have to pay a little more for all that speed, though.
How often will I need to recharge?
It’s a lot easier to think of your travel in terms of the distance you can go rather than the length of time between recharges. Obviously, the performance you get out of your battery very much depends on what kind of car you’ve bought and how you use it. A Honda e, for example, will typically run around 125 miles on a full charge. At the opposite end of the scale, a Tesla Model 3 LR will go about 348 miles. Of course, if you’re claiming your yearly tax refunds for your travel and work expenses, tracking your mileage should be second nature by now.
Speaking of tax refunds...
The key thing to remember is that the end of the petrol era doesn’t mean the end of your tax refund claims. Electricity is still a “fuel”, and mileage is still mileage.
When you travel to temporary workplaces, you’re entitled to claim back some tax for your expenses. The rules covering what you can claim might change, but with RIFT’s help you’ll always get back what you’re owed.
At the same time, we’ll steer you clear of HMRC’s trickiest twists and turns, and keep your refund on the fast track. Get in touch with any questions or concerns you have, and get your next refund rolling with RIFT.