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'Manufacturers need to cut the cost of electric cars FAST'

Electric cars need a sharp drop in price quickly if they are to overtake ICE cars before the 2035 Government ban, says Mike Rutherford

OPINION EV_Grant_Slash

I’m more convinced than ever that the shift from 100 per cent petrol or diesel (ICE) cars to their pure-electric counterparts (EVs) ain’t going to happen in one short, sharp, revolutionary burst. 

The transition will be more drip, drip than tidal wave – not least because of major problems within the UK’s entrepreneurial, sometimes iffy, EV- charging industry. Then there’s the separate disaster of inadequate Government investment; if the state is willing to seriously consider blowing £100billion-plus on the HS2 rail project, how about a tenth of that on EV infrastructure?

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On top of all this sits another tricky issue: the understandable and justifiable caution on the part of consumers expected to spend their hard-earned cash on EVs that remain considerably more expensive to buy than their petrol or diesel equivalents.

Sadly, the AA in Britain lately seems to offer far fewer instantly recognisable and readable tables spelling out the typical annual all-in costs of buying, insuring, running, refuelling/charging, servicing, then reselling cars with entirely different modes of power. But the equivalent organisation in the US – AAA – has in recent days been getting stuck in, declaring that “owning an electric vehicle is the cure for most consumer concerns” – whatever that’s supposed to mean.

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More helpfully, AAA states its new research finds that, after five years/75,000 miles, “the annual cost of owning a small to medium-sized electric vehicle bought new is, on average, only about $600 (£460) a year more expensive than its petrol-powered alternative”. Call it a difference of a quid a day, eh? Put another way – and still solely with money in mind – AAA concludes the “overall” annual cost of small-to-midsize EV ownership is just eight per cent higher than ICE car ownership.

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It’s no surprise that in the EV vs ICE financial stakes, EV owners save hundreds a year on fuel, servicing, maintenance, tyres, road user taxes, etc. Conversely, ICE buyers spend hundreds less in finance charges, and are thousands better off when it comes to the big one – vehicle depreciation. This is THE most expensive thing owners of new cars (eventually) have to pay at the stage when they trade in their vehicles, be they ICE or EV.

I’m delighted to see what seems like clear evidence from a respected and unbiased source, albeit one from overseas, saying small-to-medium pure-electric cars are, all things considered, becoming more affordable in terms of all-in standing and running costs. But that affordability gap remains too large. It has to become even smaller – or in some cases, non-existent – if EV purchases are to catch up with and overtake ICE sales.

Manufacturers and dealers have more than enough on their plates already. But they need to somehow ensure (via more attractive buy-back schemes, for example) that their pure-electric cars will only lose as much in depreciation as their internal-combustion counterparts. At that point the EV will equal or beat the ICE in overall cost of ownership terms. And that may mark the beginning of the end for 100 per cent petrol and diesel cars.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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