21.4.2017Best electric cars 2017
With a number of new models on the market, and increased awareness from buyers as to the benefits that running a plug-in car can bring, electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular. Drivers of EVs can see lower fuel, tax, and maintenance costs than compared to conventionally powered cars, with many owners able to save large sums by using an electric car.
For drivers that cover an average of less than 120 miles a day, an EV could well prove an ideal car. That's especially true for those who have a number of regular routes - such as the school run, commuting to work, driving to the shops etc - and are familiar with the area. The fact that an overnight charge will only cost a few pounds is the most obvious benefit, though there are others to be aware of. Servicing bills are typically less than those for petrol or diesel cars because of fewer moving parts, and brakes last longer thanks to brake energy recuperation systems that top up the battery to slow the car down rather than relying only on the pads and discs. Also, all EVs are rated in VED Band 0 g/km CO2, meaning they cost nothing to tax each year.
Below, Next Green Car has picked the best EVs currently available in the UK (in no particular order), with a wide variety of models on show.
Already one of the best EVs around, Renault's Zoe has been improved further with the addition of the Zoe Z.E. 40 - a model with a much longer range. Now available with an official range of 250 miles, the Zoe Z.E. 40 proves excellent value thanks to its larger battery and modest price increase.
The supermini is a good all-round EV and may be an ideal second-car for many buyers, and the Zoe is available in a number of different configurations to fit various needs. With a choice of two battery sizes, the Zoe can also be specified to be rapid charge capable, and buyers can either purchase the Renault outright, or get the car with a battery hire option. All of this means that a Zoe is available for a little under £14,000, while even a 250 mile model will cost less than £18,000 to buy outright.
Surprisingly practical for such a highly styled machine - and a supermini to boot - BMW's i3 has one of the best electric ranges around. Now with a new longer range than before, BMW has updated the i3 to fend off the competition, which was gradually creeping closer to its class leading range.
Now with a quoted 195 miles of range, the i3 keeps itself towards the top of the list in terms of long range EVs. The rest of the i3 remains largely the same, but that's no bad thing since the interior of the BMW is one of the finest in its class - or a number of others come to that. Created using recyclable and recycled materials, the clean and crisp cabin could come from an advert for a Scandinavian interior design firm, while the rear-hinging doors make access to the back seats easy considering how small the car is. Perhaps of equal importance though is the fact that the i3 is fun to drive, emphasising the point that EVs don't have to be boring.
Often seen as the standard bearer of the EV movement - and certainly at the vanguard of EVs becoming mainstream models - Nissan's Leaf is now familiar to just about all drivers. It's the best selling pure-electric vehicle in the UK and that's not just because it has been around the longest.
As a practical family hatchback, the Leaf is of a useful size for many different buyers and Nissan's continued development has seen improvements come along throughout its life. With the latest update, Nissan introduced a larger capacity battery pack at 30 kWh - offering a 20 per cent improvement on the older 24 kWh offering. This means a quoted 155 miles and a real-world range of 124 - around the same as the official (and practically unattainable) distance the older Leaf 24 kWh can travel. The big benefit though is that the Leaf 24 kWh has become a real bargain and a good entrance point into EV ownership.
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S costs much more than the rest of the offerings from the EV market, but then it can travel much further on a single charge too. Now a familiar sight on British roads, the Model S is the halo model for EVs, bringing an excitement about the technology to the general public.
It's very fast and will typically cover almost 300 miles on a single charge, depending on which model you pick, making it a good alternative for buyers looking at executive cars. The interior is light and spacious, and can be specified with two rear-facing seats that fold into the boot floor if transporting more than five people is a regular occurrence for buyers. Perhaps the biggest benefit though is Tesla's Supercharger network, offering free rapid charging to Model S drivers all over the world.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Hyundai's first all-electric offering is a very good one, instantly competing with established players such as the Nissan Leaf. A family sized hatchback, the Ioniq Electric is a practical car and one that performs very well as an EV, with an official range of 174 miles, and rapid charge capability.
Thanks to an efficient energy recovery system, and a set-up that defaults into Eco mode, the Ioniq holds its charge well too, better than much of the competition. An extensive Hyundai warranty and high levels of equipment help contribute to the Ioniq's excellent value for money offering, and could easily tempt more buyers into electric car ownership.
Benefiting from both a new battery, and Volkswagen's Golf line-up updates, the VW e-Golf goes from being a mediocre EV to one of the best around. The upshot is a quoted 186 mile range, thanks to a 50% increase in battery capacity, and a top quality interior - all wrapped up in the usual excellent Golf package.
The changes put the VW e-Golf right in the mix for title of best EV, and as a jack-of-all-trades, there are no real weaknesses in its armour. Both easy and fun to drive, the e-Golf features many of the attributes that make the conventional Golf such a good car, plus with the added benefit of low running costs, minimal environmental impact, and a very handy electric range.
Top electric vehicles 2017
It was a tough decision selecting the top EVs available in the UK, since a number of worthy models missed out. Those deserving of an honourable mention include the Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen's e-up! - which are based on good conventional models and have a strong electric powertrain. In a different direction, Renault's Twizy is perhaps the ultimate inner city commuter tool and is one of the most fun vehicles anyone will drive. Finally and although feeling their age, Peugeot's iOn and the Citroen C-Zero have had prices slashed, and are now a bargain.
For those who want to see what other EVs are available to buy, use NGC's Electric Car Search for a complete list. It's worth taking a look at our buying guide too which explains in greater detail the positives and negatives of EV ownership and what to look out for, to make sure a plug-in car is the best choice for you.