A personal perspective:
I’m going to put it out there. I am a massive fan of electric vehicles, despite not owning a ‘real’ one. I have an eighteen-year-old Lexus hybrid (yes, I know, very Alan Partridge, ah, ha) which has done over 125,000 miles and is worth no more than about £2k. I’ve been procrastinating about owning an EV for a while. I finally have a garage that has the electrical requirements to enable me to install a home charger. However, since I first started looking at the possibility of replacing my aging car with an EV, the sustainability equation doesn’t seem to add up.
When I first started looking around, I thought I would use my car as a down payment and lease an electric hatchback. At the time there was little choice in my price range. The not massively inspiring Corsa Electric seemed to fit the bill financially, at the time about £250 per month, but I just could not get excited about it. Since then, the same car is now £350+ per month.
So, time to do some maths…eek. Now I am going to make some assumptions here about how my Lexus ‘behaves’ this year. I recently took it into the garage for a major service (including hybrid system check etc.) and it needed some work on the brakes. This all cost me £1,200, but as a result it passed its MOT (another £55). If I assume I keep it topped up with petrol I’d be looking at about £180 a month on fuel. If nothing goes wrong over the next year, I’d be looking at a monthly running cost of approximately £285.
This is where my desire to be more sustainable comes into conflict with my need to keep my costs down. Just to have the pleasure of owning a Corsa Electric I’d be spending an extra £75 a month – that is without what it would cost to ‘fill it up’. I’d also need to consider what impact scrapping a perfectly decent car just to replace it with another piece of metal. So, what is my incentive to change – a question I am sure many other car owners are asking themselves.
This all got me thinking about the bigger picture over the last couple of years. As restrictions from various lockdowns eased it felt that there was a renewed enthusiasm for electric vehicles. There was a sense that the EV revolution was becoming a reality for many. However, that narrative has now dramatically changed, certainly in the media. When you see what is being written about in this space you can understand why consumers are reluctant to switch to EVs. The key points of reference in the media are:
1) the cost of living (everyone is looking at money saving)
2) supply chain issues (creating a shortage of vehicles)
3) infrastructure readiness (pictures of EV owners queuing for chargers)
4) energy price increases (affecting both home and out-of-home charging costs)
5) cost of vehicles (the prices continue to rise)
One more to add to this list which isn’t highlighted so much is the lack of affordable vehicles. From what I’ve seen there are quite literally only a handful of EVs that are under £30k. What is also often written about is that they come at the sacrifice of some levels of interior quality that you might get from a petrol or diesel car.
In conclusion, this perfect storm means that (for now) EVs will be the preserve of the wealthy unless something dramatic changes. Sadly, for the average motorist it will be a simple choice (whatever their desire for change is), either stick with what you have or buy an economical petrol or diesel vehicle. The power of the media’s narrative will also be a major factor for change. What they say will hugely affect the mood of the market and will shift consumer behaviours one way or another. Hopefully with manufacturers releasing more affordable products and increased investment in infrastructure, the media will have some positive news to write about, helping to give the EV market a much needed re-charge. Here is hoping that this is just a bump in the road and real progress will continue to be made in this space.