Electric cars 2016: what’s on the market right now? – The Week UK

Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2016

Love them or loathe them, the electric car is a hot topic in the motor industry. Manufacturers are investing heavily in the technology and most major car-makers now have a model on sale or one in the pipeline.

Governments are equally keen for electric cars to become a legitimate choice for motorists. In the UK, drivers who buy a new electric car are entitled to a £5,000 grant towards its cost and a road tax exemption. The aim is for every new car sold in Britain by 2015 to be zero emissions.

It’s easy to dismiss buying an electric car, especially if you have range anxiety or feel the UK’s infrastructure isn’t quite as advanced as it needs to be. Luckily, the market is quite diverse, with cheap, expensive, long and short-range choices a-plenty.

So, what options are out there for new buyers?

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S is usually top of the shop when it comes to electric cars. With a theoretical range of up to 312 miles, good looks and an emphasis on luxury and performance, it’s a strong rival for any good executive saloon out there.

But it’s not cheap. Prices start from £57,335 but for that, you get an electric car “you could contemplate for cross-country rather than merely urban motoring”, says Top Gear.

New models come with Tesla Autopilot, which can automatically accelerate, brake and steer on motorways – the company is dedicating a lot of time and research to the field of autonomous cars.

The Tesla is a crowd-pleaser but for those not exactly drawn by the idea of spending £57,000 on an electric saloon, a solution may be round the corner. A smaller, cheaper version called the Model 3 is planned for 2017, with prices starting around the £30,000 mark.

BMW i3

Like the Model S, the i3 is a purpose-built electric model with an emphasis on luxury. However, in contrast with Tesla’s big saloon for long-distance cruising, BMW have created a much smaller platform with a shorter overall range.

For a small car, the i3 has quite a bold design and a very modern, minimalist interior. Auto Express says it’s “like the Apple iPhone of the car world – there are alternatives, but nothing is as stylish, desirable or as good to use”.

It is available as a range extender and will do 125 miles on a single charge when fitted with this option. Prices start at £30,980 for the standard, battery-only vehicle – but don’t forget that £5,000 government grant if you buy new.

Nissan Leaf

The Leaf was one of the first electric vehicles to cross into the mainstream and since its introduction in late 2010, has gone on to become the highest-selling roadworthy electric car of all time, with more than 200,000 units shifted.

According to CarBuyer, its 124 theoretical range is “decent, but hard to achieve”, but its “quirky” looks have only started to look dated when compared to the BMW i3. It is cheaper than the BMW, though, undercutting its German rival by £5,000 to kick off at £25,790.

Volkswagen e-Golf

Compared to every other car on our list, the e-Golf is the only one which is not an entirely new creation, being a conventional vehicle adapted to suit an electric motor. Some consider purpose-built electric cars to be much better than their more conventional rivals, but others might prefer to buy something bred from a known quantity.

The fact it’s a Golf remains the sole selling point, however. Range is only 115 miles and prices start from £31,650.

Renault Twizy

“The Twizy is part scooter, part car and makes sense for congested cities,” says Autocar. Renault’s tiny car is limited to strictly that, though, as its range is just 56 miles.

It’s certainly a niche product. The Twizy has no windows or heater, so keeping it within the bounds of the city for short trips is about as much use as you’re likely to get from it. It’s cheap, from £6,895, but for a bit more, some conventional city cars can be picked up with far more use. Definitely an oddball choice for those looking for a cheap electric runabout for very short journeys.


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