Are Electric Cars Worth the Money?

Lesson Type
Last updated: 2 Jun 2020

With petrol prices and pollution levels rising, electric cars are an attractive option. The government are also offering discounts to anyone wishing to purchase their first electric car, and have allocated £400 million towards building even more charging points around the country, in addition to the £7 million already spent by 139 councils in the UK. Whether or not you want to buy an electric car is up to you, but think about the following considerations:

History of electric cars

Did you that electric cars actually pre-date petrol cars, and they held the vernacular land speed record until 1900? A Hungarian inventor Anyos Jedik is credited with inventing the first electric motor in 1834. Then in 1835, Sibrandus Stratingh, a Dutch professor and his assistant Christopher Becker were the first to produce a small electrical car powered by non-rechargeable batteries. The design was improved at the beginning of the 20th century, but as people wanted to travel longer distances faster, the petrol car dominated. We bet you didn't learn that in your driving lessons!

Which brands make electric cars?

Tesla is the name which most people associate with electric cars, but lots of big car brands are now making them, including Ford, Nissan and Honda.

Are electric cars safe?

Electric cars are as safe as any other car.

How much do electric cars cost?

According to, electric cars cost less to run than petrol cars, however they are not necessarily cheaper to buy, even with the UK Plug-In Grant. Also at present, there are far fewer second-hand electric cars on the market, with only 4,000 people owning an electric car in the UK.

How long does the battery last?

It’s estimated that the average electric car battery lasts around 7 years from new before it falls to 80% of its capacity. A replacement battery costs £7-10K, with the price depending upon the size of the car.

Benefits of buying electric cars

The UK government does offer some incentives for anyone wishing to purchase an electric car. The UK Plug-In Grant gives customers 25% off the cost of a car (up to £5,000) and electric cars are also exempt from various taxes, including the London congestion charge.

Where can I store my electric car?

It’s recommended that electric cars are stored in a garage so that they can be charged overnight. If you want to arrange for an electricity supply to charge your car in the street, you must seek approval from your local council.

How much does it cost to insure an electric car?

Like petrol cars, the amount you pay for electric car insurance will vary depending on your driving history, age, the car itself and so on.

Are electric cars environmentally friendly?

Electric cars actually require even more energy than conventional cars, because they have to transport a very heavy lithium battery as well as passengers and luggage. You can’t see or hear it, but you use more energy each time you turn the key.

The electricity powering your battery also comes from the National Grid which is primarily powered by fossil fuels. The National Grid is feeling the pinch of an ever-increasing demand for electricity, so the question arises if electric cars can be accommodated for. It’s been suggested that if all U.S. petrol cars were replaced with electric cars, the U.S. would need to double its electricity output in order to keep up with the demand.

If you're concerned about the environmental impact your car will have, check out our top 10 eco-friendly cars to put your mind at ease.

How far can electric cars travel?

Electric cars might pre-date petrol cars, but the one thing that gives petrol cars the edge is that they can travel greater distances. Most daily journeys are under 50 miles, which an electric car can handle on a single charge. However, the country isn’t yet covered in charging points for electrical cars, so they are not yet recommended for long journeys over 100 miles.

Ethical considerations

The lithium used in the batteries of electric cars is likely to have been mined in Bolivia or China, where workers’ rights are not respected.

Image via Paul Krueger.