Electric cars continue to rise in popularity, with a sharp uptick in the number of new EVs registered helping to bring more models to the used market.
There’s also more choice than ever, with credible electric city cars now available alongside much larger and more expensive EVs. More drivers are set to make the switch to electric following the coronavirus pandemic, too, according to a recent study from Deloitte.
So with more EVs to choose from, should new drivers consider these zero-emissions models as their first car? Let’s take a look.
Electric cars are automatic only
With learner drivers being able to take a driving test in either a manual or automatic car (and the majority choosing the former), it’s worth considering that all EVs are automatic. In fact, they don’t have a gearbox – so there’s no need to change gear at all. While passing a driving test in an automatic car is arguably easier (you won’t stall or have to worry about a clutch), it’s worth remembering that if you pass in an automatic car, you aren’t legally able to drive a manual car on the road – limiting your options.
That said, if you intend to only drive electric cars, that doesn’t really matter.
EVs are more expensive
One of the most limiting factors against EV ownership remains their price. When new, they cost significantly more than a petrol and diesel car. And even as they get older, prices stay high for electric models.
For example, many of us choose a first car costing £3,000 or less – with the expense of learning to drive often pushing the budget down to £1,000. The cheapest electric cars, however, can start from around £5,500, which will get you a 2011 Nissan Leaf with around 70,000 miles on the clock.
For those wanting a new EV as a first car, there is minimal choice for less than £20,000 – so electric cars are probably too expensive to consider as a first car, unless you have a big budget.
Higher insurance groups
One of the biggest expenses of a first car is insuring it – so it’s worth noting that EVs will cost more to insure than your equivalent petrol or diesel car.
That’s because they’re usually a bit more powerful than a normal petrol or diesel, while their expensive components and relative rarity make them difficult for firms to repair – leading to high premiums.
Consider low running costs
Despite these downsides, there are some big positives to having an EV as a first car. First up is their low running costs, with charging costs being a fraction of what you would spend fuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle – especially if you can charge at home.
They’re also exempt from car tax, and almost all congestion charges. These exemptions can soon rack up big savings, though you do have to weigh this against the initial cost.
Ease of driving and feel-good factor
EVs are much more intuitive and simple to control than a petrol car, which could make them an appealing choice for a first car. This is partly because they’re automatic, but also because the regenerative braking allows you to essentially just drive them with one pedal – when you ease your foot off the accelerator, they start to brake. While it might sound quite unnatural at first, it’s actually quite easy to adjust to.
The second aspect to EVs is the feel-good factor. Whether you live in a city centre or in a rural area, it feel great to know that you’re not emitting any pollutants from the car.