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Major Updates

Frequently Asked Questions

Facts and Benefits

  • How quiet are Electric Vehicles?

    Shhh!

    Noise pollution can dog our lives, induce stress and detract from the joys of a sleep-filled night. A vehicle in electric mode has no engine noise, so quieter for drivers and those they drive by.

    Can you imagine our towns and cities without engine noise? But always mindful of safety and the more vulnerable pedestrian, the industry is moving towards an agreed way to provide noise alerts for oncoming vehicles without losing the benefits of lower noise levels these vehicles have.

  • Environmental benefits

    All movement comes with an environmental cost. Even if you’re walking, you are wearing shoes that have a carbon footprint. If you are looking to reduce your environmental impact whilst on the move an electric vehicle could be the very thing you need.

    Did you know

    Being able to run in electric mode in populated urban environments can significantly reduce the level of air pollutants we breathe. Transferring emissions to power stations from heavily populated areas helps communities breathe easier whilst making it easier to put in emission control measures at single locations. That’s great news for the environment and great news for you and your family.

    Why counting carbon at tailpipes counts

    You’ll sometimes hear the claim of zero emissions at tailpipe being queried, after all, emissions are created when the power is generated so why isn’t that included in the calculation?

    Well, whatever internal combustion engine car you currently drive will have an official figure of how much CO2 it emits. It is an important figure that dictates how much VED (or “road tax”) you pay. This figure only considers the amount of CO2 your car generates as you drive, it doesn’t include the emissions created through the drilling, refining and shipping process needed to get the fuel into your tank. You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as a ‘tank-to-wheel’, or ‘tank-to-tyre’ CO2 rate. By only considering the emissions from a tailpipe of a plug-in car, we’re treating these vehicles in the same way we do conventional cars, providing an even playing field for comparison.

    So, a zero emission 100% electric vehicle produces no CO2 at the tailpipe.

    The figures provided for plug-in hybrids and range extended electric vehicles include rates for both the electric drive range and the performance of the on-board combustion engine so whilst in electric mode there are no emissions from the tailpipe; the figure given includes emissions from both fuels.

    Another phrase sometimes used is ‘well-to-wheel’. This is where the calculation does consider the energy needed and emissions created in generating the fuel needed to propel a car. For the production and delivery of petrol and diesel that means adding in the order of 20gCO2/km*. Consider an average 1.6 litre hatchback which today lists its emissions as 99gCO2/km. If we move from a tank-to-tyre to ‘well-to-wheel’ measurement we need to add in the extra 20g, so emissions rise to 119gCO2/km. If we do the same for a 100% electric car*, and consider the emissions from the power generation needed to provide the electricity then we get an equivalent ‘well-to-wheel’ figure of 87gCO2/km. This is based on figures for the average grid carbon density published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2010.

    Since 2010 progress has been made in reducing emissions from energy generation, and with the increasing use of renewable and nuclear energy, emissions here will only continue to fall. So a plug-in vehicle has lower carbon emissions now and will have even fewer moving forward as power generation decarbonises.

    *see source

    Air quality

    Road transport is responsible for 92% of the UK’s domestic transport greenhouse gases with the majority coming from cars, taxis and vans.  Cleaning up these emissions is great for the environment, but there are other health benefits to consider. Emissions from the tailpipe include, among others, particulates (microscopic particles of matter which are a by-product of combustion), and NOx and SOx (nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides) which directly impact local air quality. The Department of Health estimates that poor air quality costs our economy up to £17 billion each year through increased health problems and reduced life expectancy.

  • How much could I save?

    Did you know

    • The fuel costs for a 100% electric vehicle can be 30-90% less than a conventional vehicle.
    • It can cost less than 2p per mile to drive some Go Ultra Low cars*. An average conventional vehicle can cost over 12p per mile*. So drive 100 miles and that’s £2 versus £12, drive 200 miles and that’s £4 versus £24, drive 2000 miles and that’s £40 versus £240.
    • Choosing an electric car as your company car could save you up to £300 a month.

    It’s all about the total

    There is so much more to consider when buying a car than the initial upfront cost, but we don’t often think beyond driving away from the showroom. Factor in the insurance, depreciation, the servicing and the amount you’ll spend monthly topping up the fuel tank and the costs of your car begin to look a little different. This is called total cost of ownership and it’s where electric cars come into their own.

    Money by the mile

    Look beyond the showroom price and consider the last time you filled up the tank. The fuel costs for a 100% electric vehicle can be 80% less than a conventional vehicle. But don’t take our word for it. According to the AA Motoring Costs 2013 petrol pence per mile starts at over 12p per mile.* At a possible 2p* per mile in an electric car you’ll be making big savings every mile you drive.

    *see source

    Grants and savings

    We think that money by the mile is quite compelling, especially when you consider that most people in the UK travel far less each day than the range of a 100% electric vehicle. But for those occasions you need to go a little further, a plug-in hybrid or range extended electric vehicle will get those driving cost savings whilst running in electric mode, but with the added option of driving a bit further on petrol if you need to. These vehicles can easily meet the average journey length of just 7 miles, so you can enjoy the benefits of cheap electric running for most of your journeys and have the added convenience of a vehicle capable of longer journeys without refueling.

    If that’s not compelling enough, the Government is helping with the upfront purchase costs on many models. The Plug-in Grant gives you 35% off the price of a car to a maximum of £4,500 and up to 20% to a maximum of £8,000, off the price of a van*.

    *see source

    An electric company car

    Find out all about the benefits for companies on our Businesses page.

Charge points

  • Can I get a charge point at home?

    Yes, and there is help available.

    Government Scheme

    The government will give you £500 off the cost of installing a charge point at home. This discount will be sorted out by the chargepoint company when they install your charger, but if you want to learn more visit the government advice here.

    Western Power Distribution Electric Nation Scheme

    "Electric Nation is seeking to recruit between 500-700 people buying or leasing an electric vehicle (EV) (including pure electric and plug-in hybrids) to take part in the largest trial of its kind. Participants will charge their cars at home using a smart charger which can manage when and how their vehicle battery charges. The findings of the trial will help electricity network operators to manage the effect of the additional load caused by charging EVs on the local electricity network. This is essential for the security of electricity networks in the future and the decarbonisation of the transport sector which is responsible for approximately 21% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions". Click here to find out more.

    If you install a home charger, it may be worth switching to an eco tariff, as this may save you money by offering cheaper off-peak electricity. It’s also good for the environment because more off-peak electricity is generated by renewables. To find out more about these tariffs, visit the Energy Saving Trust.

  • How do I report a broken charge point?
    To report a broken charge point in the West of England please contact Charge Your Car.
  • How do I suggest a location for a new charge point?

    To suggest a new location for a charge point in the West of England please send details to info@sourcewest.co.uk.

  • Do I need loads of different charging cables?

    No. Your electric car will come with a charging cable which allows you to charge at home and at public chargers.

    Rapid chargers work slightly differently – they have their own cable which you can use, a bit like a petrol pump.

    Some cars also come with a cable that can plug into a normal 3-pin socket – this isn’t recommended for everyday use, but can be useful as a back-up.

  • How much does charging cost?

    You can fuel an electric car from just 2p per mile – much cheaper than the 10-12p per mile it costs to fuel a petrol or diesel car. If you charge at home overnight you can take advantage of off-peak electricity prices to make further savings on fuel. Speak to your electricity supplier about which tariff is right for you.

    Many of the chargepoints in the UK are currently free to use. Costs for using public chargepoints varies by provider, just as it does with petrol stations. As an example, it costs £6 for a 30 minute rapid charge at one of Ecotricity’s chargepoints, enough to charge a pure electric car to 80% - from nearly empty, that’s much cheaper than filling up a petrol or diesel car.

  • Types of charge points and charging times
    There are three types of charger – rapid, fast and standard. Below you can find a quick summary of the best applications for each type of charger:
    • Rapid – charges to 80% in 30 minutes. Perfect if you’re in a rush, or on a motorway journey. (50 kW for DC units (400V /125A) or 43 kW for AC chargers.)
    • Fast – charges your car in about 4 hours. Perfect while you’re at work, at a Park & Ride, doing the weekly shop, or going to a restaurant or cinema. (7 kW AC charger (32A))
    • Standard – charges your car in about 6 hours. Perfect for charging overnight at home. (3kw AC charger (13A))
  • Can someone unplug my car while it is charging?
    No. Charging cables lock in place when you start to charge, and can only be unlocked by you once you finish using the chargepoint.
  • Is charging safe?
    Yes. All chargepoints are rigorously safety tested and are safe to use – even in the pouring rain.
  • How easy is it to find a charge point and charge my car?

    It's very easy! Find more information on our Charge Points page or watch the video below.

Types of vehicles

  • Book a test drive today!

    There's nothing like trying before buying. Click here to choose your electric vehicle and book a test drive today.

    If you're looking fleet vehicles for your business visit the fleet car selector.

  • Zero emission 100% electric

    100% electric vehicles, otherwise known as “battery electric vehicles” or “pure electric vehicles”, are wholly driven by an electric motor, powered by a battery that can be plugged into the mains. There is no combustion engine.

    Electrical energy from the battery is passed through wire coils in the motor to create a magnetic field. This magnetism turns a rotor, which then turns the wheels of the vehicle.

    To maximise efficiency this process is run in reverse when the vehicle is slowing down. The motor is put into reverse to slow the vehicle down, acting as a mini-generator to top-up the battery. Known as “regenerative braking”, this can add 10 miles or more to the range of the vehicle, energy that is entirely wasted through braking in petrol and diesel vehicles.

    As 100% electric vehicles rely entirely on electricity for fuel, they do not produce any tailpipe emissions. At present, most of these vehicles on the market typically offer a range of around 100 miles, though some offer more.

    100% electric vehicles have been around for over 100 years. The technology is as straightforward as it is mature, with the number of moving parts a fraction of what goes into conventionally-fuelled vehicles. That means much greater energy efficiency and less to go wrong.

    100% electric vehicles are characterised by their smoothness. They usually only need a single gear, giving very even acceleration and deceleration for a smooth ride. With an electric motor, full power is available from the first instance, making these vehicles really nippy. They are also quiet, with no need to explode fossil fuels under the bonnet, there is no engine noise.

    100% electric vehicles can be charged directly from a normal socket. But to speed up recharging times there are a host of charging options available at public locations and, if you choose, at your own home.

  • Plug-in hybrids

    The battery is much smaller than in a 100% electric vehicle and tends to drive the wheels at low speeds or for limited range. However, it is still sufficient in most models to cover the average journey length of the UK driver, which is just 7 miles per trip.

    After the battery range has been utilised, the hybrid capability means that the vehicle can continue journeys powered by its conventional engine. The use of an internal combustion engine means that plug-in hybrid vehicles tend to have tailpipe emissions of around 40-50g/km CO2 when measured against the current European test cycle.

    The key difference between a plug-in hybrid vehicle and conventional ‘mild’ hybrid vehicles is simply the “plug-in” bit. The battery is bigger and can be charged directly from the mains giving a much longer range running on electricity than a conventional hybrid.

  • Extended-range electric vehicles (E-REV)

    Extended-range electric vehicles have a plug-in battery pack and electric motor, as well as an internal combustion engine.

    The difference with a plug-in hybrid is that the electric motor always drives the wheels, with the internal combustion engine acting as a generator to recharge the battery when it is depleted.

    Typically, these vehicles have a pure electric battery range of around 40 miles, before the vehicle switches to the range-extender mode to continue the journey without any compromise in range. This typically results in tailpipe emissions of around 20-30g/km CO2.

  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

    Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, also known as Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), have a fuel cell stack which uses hydrogen to produce electricity which then powers the wheels of the vehicle. There is no internal combustion engine in a FCEV. The fuel cell is an electrochemical device similar to a battery, but unlike a battery it does not need recharging and will continue to generate power as long as it is fed with a supply of hydrogen. Fuel cells produce electricity and heat with zero emissions at the point of use.

    Unlike battery-powered vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are refuelled at a filling station in a similar way to vehicles with a petrol or diesel engine. FCEVs have a range of around 300 miles. They take just three to five minutes to refuel and an initial network of 12 hydrogen filling stations is being developed across in the UK to support their roll out.

General

  • How safe are electric vehicles?

    The automotive industry is one of the most heavily regulated in the world, ensuring that products are safe. This same attention to detail has been applied in setting all the of safety measures an electric vehicle has to meet.

    Vehicle safety

    There are strict rules and regulations which guide the safety of the vehicles we drive and by law vehicles have to meet minimum safety standards. These tests need to prove passenger and pedestrian safety in a range of collision situations, and for electric vehicles that includes ensuring the battery and voltage cables do not create undue risk.

    Beyond statutory standards of safety for cars there are NCAP ratings, providing each car with an out of 5 stars performance level against the Euro NCAP crash tests which consider adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist measures. All electric cars carry an NCAP rating so you can compare with confidence using this standardised approach to vehicle safety. You can find out more at www.euroncap.com or on individual vehicle manufacturer websites.

    Different vehicle classes have different safety standards and requirements. A quadricycle is governed by a different set of standards to a passenger car and these are different again from those for a van.

    Charging safely

    The dedicated chargepoints that are recommended for charging your electric vehicle have undergone rigorous safety testing and are installed by qualified electricians following industry best practice for installation of charging equipment. They are safe to use, with those mounted outside being suitable for use, no matter what the weather.

  • How easy is it to buy an electric vehicle?
    As with all vehicles, there are a range of finance package options to spread the cost. With some models you can even consider buying the car and leasing the battery, giving you complete peace of mind for the lifetime of your battery. Go Ultra Low have drawn up some simple comparison tables to help you understand the differences, over three years, for a conventional vehicle versus 100% electric, plug-in hybrid, range extended and battery leased options.
  • What is Source West?

    Source West, was funded by Bristol City Council through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), to promote the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) into the South West including Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, and the Counties of South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Gloucestershire.

    In addition to using LSTF funding to develop the region’s EV charging infrastructure, Source West was also supported by the European Commission's ICT for Electric Vehicle Enhancing the User Experience (ICT 4 EVEU) project which looked at deploying new digital and communications technologies for EVs in several pilots across Europe. The cities that took part include Bristol along with sister projects in Ljubljana and Maribor (Slovenia), Vitoria and Pamplona (Spain) together with observers from the Austrian region Styria.

    Due to the increasing awareness of climate change and the rising of fuel and oil prices, the need for sustainable transport systems with lower carbon emissions have prompted most of the world’s developed countries to step up the research, demonstration and deployment of transport systems that use more energy-efficient and less fuel-dependent vehicles. In this context, the promotion of electric vehicles is seen as one of the largest opportunities to radically change today’s transport system and makes a quantum leap into the next generation of sustainable mobility.

    Bristol was an obvious choice to have been the UK pilot due to the city’s demonstrated commitment to the environment. The city was European Green Capital 2015. Bristol is currently developing ways to increase energy efficiency while reducing energy demand. In addition the city is a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors’ stringent C02 reduction targets.

    The Bristol ICT 4 EVEU pilot focused on the integration of commuters in the urban area of Bristol, reaching a population up to 500,000 and with a high movement from locations nearby. The implementation of the Electric Vehicle is regarded as a possible solution in terms of efficiency for the city, which must have an interconnected and fast-charging infrastructure.

    The Bristol pilot focused on providing three services:

    1) The sourcewest.info website with useful information on electric vehicles and what steps the city is taking to upgrade charge point infrastructure. The site offered full social media integration to encourage, promote and support electric vehicle use (the legacy operational content has now been migrated to Travelwest.info);

    2) Developing software that offers interoperability across the electric vehicle charge point grid’s technologies through a General Management System. This has allowed users to access real time required information about the charging network across the geographic area. Commuters are able to view their energy usage over different periods of time to compare savings against traditional fuel. Charge Your Car Limited have been subcontracted to provide this technology;

    3) Providing a smart phone application for Android and iPhone. This app allows electric vehicle commuters intuitive access to the above software. Commuters are advised of the suitable public charge post.  A secure payment interface make using your debit or credit card a simple and safe transaction. Charge Your Car has developed this app which users can access.

    In addition, through funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Charge Your Car, Source West introduced 15 rapid chargers. Rapid chargers enable compatible electric vehicles to have 80% of their batteries charged in 20/30 minutes. Rapid chargers are being introduced across the UK to enable longer journeys to be covered by electric vehicles.

    Source West was developed in coordination with other EV networks across the UK and contributed to a national effort to embrace and support the use of electric vehicles. With increasing interoperability, the intention is for members of one network to be able to use other similar networks.

    The Source West brand lives on, in the ever growing West of England charging points network we see today.

  • What is the average range of an Electric Vehicle?
    • Plug-in hybrids, which also have a combustion engine, have ranges up to 800 miles, with around 30 miles of electric range.
    • Pure electric cars typically have a range of around 100 miles.
    • Range extender electric cars, which have a small petrol engine that tops up the battery when it is getting low, have a range of around 200 miles.
     
  • Do batteries deteriorate significantly over time?

    Electric vehicle sceptics have also warned of the potential of electric vehicle battery degradation, but such suggestions would appear to be ill-founded.

    Nissan, last year, published proprietary data going back five years and relating to the European sale of more than 35,000 LEAF models.

    It showed that 99.99% of battery units remained entirely fit for purpose. The failure rate of the battery power unit – less than 0.01% or just three units in total was, Nissan said, a fraction of the equivalent industry-wide figure for defects affecting traditional combustion engines.

    Analysis of a basket of 50,000 cars aged three to six-years-old over a five-year period by independent insurance specialist Warranty Direct indicated that 0.255% of vehicles on its books had experienced an issue that led to an immobilisation of the internal combustion. Common problems ranged from leaks in the coolant system and damage to the head gasket to engine flooding.

    Nissan says that the facts speak for themselves highlighting that the rate of battery faults in vehicles was negligible.

    The reliability of plug-in vehicles has been further highlighted by Nissan with more than 140 LEAF hatchback and e-NV200 Combi models being operated as taxis and many more taxi firms waiting for vehicles to be delivered.

    Six UK-based taxi fleets have to date collectively clocked up more than three million miles in Nissan electric cars, which Nissan says proves the two models’ reliability and durability as well as cost efficiency.

    A Nissan LEAF operated by Cornwall-based taxi company C&C Taxis has passed 100,000 miles with the owners reporting it had not lost a single bar of battery life.

    Furthermore, at least three other LEAF taxis have passed the 100,000-mile mark with more than 30 having covered more than 30,000 miles.


Businesses

Charge Points

  • Types of charge points and charging times
    There are three types of charger – rapid, fast and standard. Below you can find a quick summary of the best applications for each type of charger:
    • Rapid – charges to 80% in 30 minutes. Perfect if you’re in a rush, or on a motorway journey. (50 kW for DC units (400V /125A) or 43 kW for AC chargers.)
    • Fast – charges your car in about 4 hours. Perfect while you’re at work, at a Park & Ride, doing the weekly shop, or going to a restaurant or cinema. (7 kW AC charger (32A))
    • Standard – charges your car in about 6 hours. Perfect for charging overnight at home. (3kw AC charger (13A))
  • How do I get a charge point for my business?
    The Government offers grants to provide support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charge-points, for eligible businesses, charities and public sector organisations. Workplaces can apply for vouchers and get more information on the Gov.uk website.

General

  • What is the average range of an Electric Vehicle?
    • Plug-in hybrids, which also have a combustion engine, have ranges up to 800 miles, with around 30 miles of electric range.
    • Pure electric cars typically have a range of around 100 miles.
    • Range extender electric cars, which have a small petrol engine that tops up the battery when it is getting low, have a range of around 200 miles.
     
  • Do batteries deteriorate significantly over time?

    Electric vehicle sceptics have also warned of the potential of electric vehicle battery degradation, but such suggestions would appear to be ill-founded.

    Nissan, last year, published proprietary data going back five years and relating to the European sale of more than 35,000 LEAF models.

    It showed that 99.99% of battery units remained entirely fit for purpose. The failure rate of the battery power unit – less than 0.01% or just three units in total was, Nissan said, a fraction of the equivalent industry-wide figure for defects affecting traditional combustion engines.

    Analysis of a basket of 50,000 cars aged three to six-years-old over a five-year period by independent insurance specialist Warranty Direct indicated that 0.255% of vehicles on its books had experienced an issue that led to an immobilisation of the internal combustion. Common problems ranged from leaks in the coolant system and damage to the head gasket to engine flooding.

    Nissan says that the facts speak for themselves highlighting that the rate of battery faults in vehicles was negligible.

    The reliability of plug-in vehicles has been further highlighted by Nissan with more than 140 LEAF hatchback and e-NV200 Combi models being operated as taxis and many more taxi firms waiting for vehicles to be delivered.

    Six UK-based taxi fleets have to date collectively clocked up more than three million miles in Nissan electric cars, which Nissan says proves the two models’ reliability and durability as well as cost efficiency.

    A Nissan LEAF operated by Cornwall-based taxi company C&C Taxis has passed 100,000 miles with the owners reporting it had not lost a single bar of battery life.

    Furthermore, at least three other LEAF taxis have passed the 100,000-mile mark with more than 30 having covered more than 30,000 miles.

Savings

  • Service, maintenance and repair

    Service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs

    Service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs for plug-in vehicles would appear to deliver major savings when compared to internal combustion engine models, according to initial findings from expert providers.

    The current volume of pure electric plug-in vehicles in the marketplace means that definitive SMR figures based on a reliably large sample of models of significance are not yet available. Nevertheless, the ‘simplicity’ of the technology in those vehicles dictates financial savings versus internal combustion engines.

    Furthermore, a recent study by Go Ultra Low found that UK motorists could save an average £306 a year in garage bills by switching to a new electric car. Every year, the average motorist forks out £400 for servicing and maintenance for their petrol or diesel car – more than four times the sub-£100 annual spend for an electric model.

    With just three main components – the on-board charger, inverter and motor – Nissan says the LEAF is 40% cheaper to maintain compared to petrol or diesel-powered alternatives.

  • Fuel Costs

    Fuel the second biggest vehicle-related cost

    Fuel is is typically the second biggest vehicle-related cost. After vehicle acquisition/depreciation potentially accounting for 25%-30% of fleet expenditure. Therefore, with corporate budgets under the microscope, reducing the cost of running business vehicles makes absolute financial sense.

    Fuel savings are one of the many benefits of running electric vehicles (EVs), with the Go Ultra Low campaign suggesting that costs for a pure electric vehicle can be up to 90% less than for a conventional vehicle. Employees paying for fuel used privately could also make significant financial savings.

    That’s why it is important that fleets use whole life cost figures as the basis for their company car decision-making as they include fuel costs as well as all other operating costs.

    The Department for Transport calculates that EV running costs are as low as just 2p a mile and the Energy Saving Trust suggests such vehicles cost around £2-£3 to fully charge, for a typical range of 100 miles.

    Following recent reductions in the pump prices of petrol and diesel, the Energy Saving Trust suggests that an equivalent petrol or diesel car costs £9-£13 to drive 100 miles – more than 400% more on a mile for mile basis – thus EVs deliver major fuel cost savings.

    However, pump prices are notoriously volatile and despite reductions in 2015 and into 2016, the long term indication is a potential return to higher petrol and diesel fuel costs as crude oil prices increase alongside global energy demand, according to experts.

    Just last year, the Energy Saving Trust calculated it cost £12-£18 to drive 100 miles in a petrol or diesel car and research published by Go Ultra Low suggested that collectively British motorists were missing out on savings of almost £24.5 billion annually by not taking advantage of ultra low emission motoring.

    While those collective savings have diminished due to the reduction in pump prices, calculations reveal that individually fleets and drivers can continue to save hundreds of pounds per vehicle per year by adopting electric motoring.

    With the average annual mileage of a household car being 7,900 miles in 2014, according to latest data from the Department for Transport’s Annual Travel Survey, the difference in annual spend between the cost of a petrol or diesel car, around 9p per mile (£700), and an EV, 2p per mile (£150), is a massive £550. Multiplied by the 29.6 million cars on the nation’s roads, according to latest department vehicle licensing statistics, and the saving is a colossal £16.2 billion.

    The data reveals that the Renault ZOE supermini delivers a potential saving of more than £470 versus a petrol engine supermini over 12 months/10,000 miles. Multiply that across an electric car fleet replacement cycle of four years/40,000 and the fuel saving rockets to almost £1,900 on just one vehicle.

    Similarly, comparing the fuel economy of the new Toyota Prius Plug-in with conventionally powered petrol and diesel models and there are significant savings: more than £450 versus the petrol rival and almost £240 versus the diesel. Multiply that across a typical fleet operating cycle of four years/80,000 miles and it translates into savings of more than £3,650 and almost £1,900 respectively per vehicle.

    Therefore, as experts highlight and the figures prove, a higher on-the-road price for a plug-in vehicle can be more than offset by fuel savings.

    The table below highlights potential fuel costs over 10,000 miles

    Model MPG Fuel Price Fuel Cost
    Renault ZOE N/A 2p per mile £200.00>
    Peugeot 1.0 Access 3dr 68.9 101.8 £671.98
    Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid 94.1 101.8 £492.02
    Ford Mondeo 2.0T EcoBoost 160 48.7 101.8 £950.07
    Vauxhall Insignia 5dr 2.0 CDTi 170PS ecoFLEX 62.8 100.84 £729.29
    • UK average fuel prices: petrol 101.80p a litre and diesel 100.84 a litre. MPG: combined fuel cycle.
  • Tax Savings

    The motoring tax system is designed to favour the take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) with Government grants furthering the incentives for corporate customers.

    Additional funding is available to help with the purchase of vehicles and installation of recharging points, meaning there is a solid business case for introducing such cars and vans to fleet operations.

    The London Congestion Charge and the Low Emission Zone ringing the capital also favour the cleanest vehicles, while many local authorities offer free parking for plug-in cars and vans – with more initiatives set to follow.

    Add fuel costs into the financial equation, where along with company car benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax the biggest savings are achievable, and switching to EVs starts to make real sense.

    Savings in company car BIK tax and Class 1A National Insurance

    The Government has confirmed, following a review, that company car benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax will continue to be based on vehicle CO2 emissions from 2020/21.

    BIK tax rates are known until the end of 2019/20 – which enables businesses to plan their vehicle choice lists and calculate the financial cost to themselves and employees.

    But prior to announcing rates for future years, the Government is to consult on reform of the bands for EVs (below 75g/km) to refocus fleet demand on the cleanest cars. That suggests that rather than a single rate of tax for cars with emissions of 0-50g/km and for those with emissions of 51-75g/km there could be a series of more graduated thresholds.

    Like BIK tax, employers’ Class 1A national insurance contributions (NIC), charged at the rate of 13.8%, are linked to a car’s P11D value and CO2 emission figure. Therefore, the lower a car’s CO2 emissions the lower the NIC charge.

    Table 1 (below) highlights BIK tax rates on EVs to 2019/20 and the rates for a car in the 100-104g/km bracket.

    • For each tax year add 3% for diesel cars up to a maximum of 37%

    So, comparing a zero emission BMW i3 (£30,980 on the road) with an almost identically priced 104 g/km Volvo V60 D4 SE Nav (£31,045), reveals the tax benefits for lower (20%) and higher (40%) rate drivers (see table 2) and the Class 1A NIC savings for employers (see table 3) over four years.

    Over the four-years to 2019/20, company car drivers will pay a total of £2,981 less in BIK tax on the BMW i3 if a lower rate taxpayer and £5,963 if a higher rate taxpayer.

    Employers over the four-year period businesses will save themselves a total of £2,056 in Class 1A NIC by choosing the BMW i3. On a fleet of just 10 models that equates to a saving of more than £20,000.

    Van BIK tax charge

    The Government wants to increase fleet demand for zero-emission vans so has extended BIK support for models.

    Full BIK tax exemption status of electric vans ended in 2015/16 with 20% of the rate paid by conventionally-fuelled vans being levied. But Budget 2016 confirmed that the 20% rate will be retained for a further two years – 2016/17 and 2017/18 – instead of rising to 40% and 60% of the main rate in those years

    It means that based on the main rate BIK charge in 2016/17 of £3,170 the charge for an electric van will be £634, with an inflation-linked increase due in 2017/18. Employers pay NIC on the taxable benefit.

    • Electric van BIK tax charge 2016/17 (20%/40%) taxpayer: £127/£254. NIC charge: £88.
    • Petrol/diesel van BIK tax charge 2016/17 (20%/40%) taxpayer: £634/£1,268. NIC charge: £437.

    Therefore, drivers will save £507/£1,014 in tax on a plug-in van. Employers will save £349 in NIC per plug-in vehicle, which on a fleet of just 10 vans delivers a cash saving of almost £3,500.

    Tax rates for zero-emission vans will then increase on a tapered basis to 5th April, 2022: 40% in 2018/19, 60% in 2019/20, 80% in 2020/21, 90% in 2021/22 and then equalising with the standard charge in 2022/23 – a two-year extension from the original timetable.

    The Government says it will review the impact of the incentive at Budget 2018 together with enhanced capital allowances for zero-emission vans.

    Vehicle Excise Duty

    Presently EVs are exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and all cars and vans that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 are zero rated for road tax, delivering additional cash savings to companies.

    However, the VED regime for cars will change from 1st April, 2017. Nevertheless, the changes still encourage take-up of EVs.

    In announcing the change, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “The reformed VED system retains and strengthens the CO2-based first year rates to incentivise uptake of the very cleanest cars.”

    The first year VED rate and the standard rate for EVs is shown below:

    New VED system for cars registered from 2017

    Emissions (g/km) of CO2 First year rate Standard rate*
    0 £0 £0
    1-50 £10 £140
    51-75 £25 £140
    76-90 £100 £140

    *Cars above £40,000 pay a £310 supplement for five years

    Capital allowances

    Capital allowances allow companies to write down the cost of purchasing cars and vans against taxable profits.

    For capital allowance purposes the actual price paid for the car, including blocked VAT and any discount, is used when calculating the allowance; as such list price has no relevance for capital allowance purposes unless that was the price paid for the car.

    To encourage the take-up of EVs, cars and vans with CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less are eligible for 100% first year capital allowances to 31st March, 2018 thereby giving companies cash flow benefits. However, in respect to zero-emission vans, this benefit is limited to businesses that do not claim the government’s Plug-in Van Grant.

    In contrast, on cars with emissions of 76-130g/km and above 130g/km companies can write down 18% and 8%, respectively, of the cost of a car against their taxable profits each year, on a reducing balance basis. Business expenditure on vans (ex-VAT) that are not zero-emission qualify for tax relief as capital allowances at the rate of 18% a year on a reducing balance basis.

    However, once again with the focus firmly on encouraging corporate demand for EVs, Budget 2016 announced that the 100% First Year Allowance would be extended for a further three years to April 2021. However, the CO2 emissions threshold for qualifying cars will reduce to 50g/km from 75g/km.

    In giving fleets a two-year window to realign their company car policies, the Government also announced that from April 2018, to reflect falling vehicle emissions, the 18% capital allowance would apply to cars with CO2 emissions of 51-110g/km with vehicles above 110g/km being in the 8% category.

    The Government will further review the case for the First year Allowance and the appropriate business cars emission thresholds from 2021 at Budget 2019.

    Table 1

    CO2 (g/km) 2016/17% of P11D price 2017/18% of P11D price 2018/19% of P11D price 2019/20% of P11D price
    0-50 7 9 13 16
    51-75 11 13 16 19
    100-104 17 19 21 24

    Table 2

    P11D value 2016/1720%/40% 2017/1820%/40% 2018/1920%/40% 2019/2020%/40%
    i3 £30,925 £433/£866 £557/£1,113 £804/£1,608 £990/£1979
    V60 D4 £30,990 £1,240/£2,480 £1,364/£2,727 £1,488/£2,975 £1,673/£3,347
    Saving £807/£1,614 £807/£1,614 £684/£1,367 £683/£1,368

    Table 3

    P11D value 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
    i3 £30,925 299£ 384£ 555£ 683£
    V60 D4 £30,990 £855 £941 £1,026 £1,155
    Saving £556 £557 £471 £472

    Example of capital allowance benefits

     

    Model: Nissan LEAF Acenta 30kw

    Price: £24,990

    CO2 emissions: 0g/km

    Writing down allowance: 100%

    Corporation tax 2016/17: 20%

    Tax relief: £24,990 x 100% x 20% = £4,498

    Tax written down value carried forward = nil

    Model: Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi 170PS Start/Stop ecoFLEX 5dr

    Price: £25,004

    CO2 emissions: 118g/km

    Writing down allowance: 18%

    Corporation tax 2016/17: 20%

    Tax relief: £25,004 x 18% x 20% = £900.14

    Tax written down value carried forward = £20,503.28

  • Long Term Savings

    Whole life costs reflect all the projected, vehicle-specific costs associated with operating a car or van over its fleet life irrespective of whether a vehicle is owned or leased.

    Yet many fleet decision-makers base their vehicle selection decisions on list price, P11D value or a headline monthly lease rate rather than whole life costs.

    Finding the right operation for the right vehicle is key in all fleet operations and that is no different with EVs.

    Whole life cost figures from Lex Autolease illustrate how the higher P11D value of plug-in vehicles is more than offset by significant fuel savings, notwithstanding recent falls in the pump price of petrol and diesel, an estimated 20-40% reduction in SMR costs and tax benefits.

    SMR savings accrue because there are fewer moving or wearing parts in an electric car that will require maintenance than in petrol or diesel equivalents. Consequently, vehicle servicing costs will be lower.

    The data reveals that, for example, running a BMW i3 over four years/60,000 miles will deliver a potential saving of £51 a month over rival models (see table) or £2,448 over a four-year operating cycle. Multiply that by a fleet of just 10 cars and the savings escalate to almost £25,000 over four years.

    Similarly with the Nissan LEAF Acenta the monthly savings over a Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Zetec S are an impressive £77 a month. That equates to almost £3,700 over a four-year operating cycle and almost £37,000 on a fleet of only 10 cars.

    Whole life cost data for range extender and plug-in hybrid models are more difficult to calculate because maximum savings are delivered in electric mode.

    However, the greater the number of miles covered in electric mode the greater the whole life cost saving as fuel expenditure will reduce. What’s more, in the figures below the BMW i3 Range Extender and Volkswagen Golf GTE are compared with best in breed petrol and diesel rivals so for fleets currently operating less efficient vehicles the savings would be even more significant.

For more information please visit our Businesses page.

Most of the content on this page was kindly provided by the Go Ultra Low national website.

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