Low running costs, low or zero emissions and the latest innovations in automotive technology – it’s no surprise that alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) such as electric and hybrid cars are becoming more popular with UK drivers. While SMMT data showed new car registrations fell 6.8% in 2018, sales of AFVs bucked that trend in style, rising by a fifth and increasing market share by 1.4% to 6%.
With the government now also poised to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, it’s time to start thinking about going green and making the switch. A greater choice of used hybrid and electric cars makes it possible to find a great option that best suits your personal situation. We’ve looked at what’s out there to see what could work for you and your family.
One of the first electric cars on the market, the Nissan Leaf still remains one of the most popular too. Not only has it built up a reputation for reliability, it’s much like driving any other type of hatchback. With 24, 30, 40 and 80kWh models, the Leaf is an affordable way to go electric for the first time.
The Leaf is a completely electric car, so there’s no petrol or diesel engine like you’ll find in a hybrid car. No engine means no CO2 emissions, and that means no tax to pay. This, along with the fact there are fewer moving parts that should reduce the amount you might have to pay for servicing, are handy savings for any first-time driver to make.
Early Leaf models came with a 24kWh battery, which have a maximum range of around 80 miles on a full charge. This may not be ideal if you’re going to be making frequent, long journeys. But if you’ll be driving locally or want an urban runaround, it should be ideal.
An AFV pioneer, the Toyota Prius is among the best hybrid family cars you can find. You might have also noticed that it’s the car of choice for many Uber drivers too. Prii – yes, that’s the official plural – are now a familiar face in the used car market. With a decent-sized boot, good fuel efficiency and smooth handling, it’ll take great care of your family’s fortunes.
As a hybrid car, the Prius features both an electric motor and petrol engine. For anyone new to AFVs, it’s a handy stepping stone between a conventional petrol or diesel-powered car and going fully electric. If you’re driving in stop-start, low-speed settings such as a town centre on a Saturday afternoon when you’re out shopping, the Prius can run on electric power alone.
But if you’re going down the motorway and further afield on a family holiday, its petrol engine takes control so there’s no need to worry about how long the battery will last.
The Kia Niro has some top features to offer any family that’s growing in size. It comes with a healthy amount of interior space and a 472-litre boot that means it won’t be a tight squeeze for kids or pets. Quiet, affordable and promising 74.3mpg – this is a hybrid family car that’ll keep everyone happy.
Like the Prius, the hybrid technology makes the Niro a great option for growing families that aren’t yet ready to make the full leap to electric technology. It’ll help you to reduce your fuel costs, particularly on the school run or commuting in the city. And you could pay little-to-no vehicle excise duty – depending on what version you buy.
If you have access to a socket where you park your Niro, the plug-in version of this hybrid SUV can last around 35 miles longer on electric power alone and improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency overall.
Commuting to work
The BMW i3 brushes aside any worries you might have about driving electric cars for long distances. The German car maker’s 3 Series is a firm favourite in the used car world, but the i3 looks like it’ll be catching up soon. With exceptional efficiency in town and on the motorway, low day-to-day running costs are a perk for anyone driving regularly. It’s as comfortably and stylish as you’d expect too.
With the i3, you have the choice in the used market of buying a pure-electric version, or a range-extender equipped with a two-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator.. But bear in mind the range extender model is being discontinued by BMW, with its latest pure-electric version now capable of an even longer-range.
In the short term, however, a used pure-electric i3 can get you more than 120 miles (94Ah battery). This should be more than capable of getting you to and from the office 5 days a week without needing to recharge. If you’re doing a lot of long-distance driving on business, you may want to consider the range-extender version with its higher overall range of 200+ miles.
As its petrol engine is relatively small, you won’t have to pay any road tax or the London Congestion Charge. And because the i3 is made entirely from carbon fibre, it’s an incredibly light car – even lighter than the Nissan Leaf. It’s part of what makes it more efficient and better at handling than some of its peers.
Not convinced that hybrid or electric sports cars cut the mustard? The Jaguar I-Pace might just change your mind. The first electric car from Jaguar, the I-Pace is a serious proposition for anyone with the cash to spend – giving Tesla a run for its money in the process. Boasting quick acceleration, a spacious interior, and a good range between charges, this is the electric car that Inspector Morse would drive.
Two aspects that make the I-Pace stand out from the crowd are that, firstly, you’ll get more than 200 miles on one charge and, secondly, it’s cheaper than a Tesla Model X. Now, that second point is maybe not such an issue if you’re prepared to splash the cash on an electric car. But why spend more than you have to?
According to Jaguar, the official range of an I-Pace doesn’t just get the right side of the 200-mile mark. It’s actually a huge 292 miles, based on the WLTP cycle. Even driving at high speed on a motorway, you can still get far-reaching performance out of this car. But it does help that you can charge it overnight, making sure it gets through the next day’s driving.
The exterior design of the I-Pace is as refined and stylish as you’d expect from Jaguar, with interiors to match. LED headlights, sports seats, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and cruise control are all standard features. Step up to the HSE edition, meanwhile, and you’ll also benefit from surround-sound speakers and Windsor leather upholstery among other features.
If you’re in the market for a used car, going green with an AFV is now easier than ever. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the hybrid and electric cars on the market – with a growing list of great options to suit, whichever stage of the life journey you’re at.
Image courtesy of iStock.