“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”

Mike Rutherford thinks the industry needs to face the fact that a lot of people can’t afford a brand new factory-fresh car

Opinion - electric car prices

You’ve seen and felt it all in recent months – prices going through the roof, the life-altering pain of Britain’s cost of living crisis, a dramatic drop in your disposable income. And although there’s no point in beating yourself up over out-of-control inflation, you at least need to be better tuned into the financial realities of motoring life in 2022.

For those keen to buy a factory-fresh vehicle for the first time, the new car at less than £10,000 is now toast. Dacia’s bog-standard Sandero recently became an £12,295 car, while Ford says its cheapest Fiesta is £17,905 and Volkswagen has decided its most basic Polo is worth almost £19,000. Such price tags are simply too high for entry-level superminis largely driven by youngsters in modestly paid jobs or earning even less on apprenticeships. Why can’t we have more stripped-out, low-powered, L-spec models for first-time new car buyers and, come to that, newly retired pensioners on tight budgets?

As for today’s 20 to 40-somethings with young kids, the pure-electric family hatchback is supposed to be for them. But can it be? Often at £40,000-£50,000, mid-sized EVs are way beyond the financial reach of the majority of mums and dads. And the car industry needs to face this unpalatable fact.

The murkiness of the energy business resulted in the arrival of the £10 gallon at some BP pumps, while average retail prices rising to around 44p per kilowatt-hour for rapid charging an EV at public chargepoints were the icing on the cake. Meanwhile, BP’s profits more than doubled to £4.1billion in the first three months of 2022. Shell – another firm not noted for its low prices – almost tripled its profits to £7.3billion during the same quarter.

Interest rates have just risen to their highest level since 2009. And within months the headline inflation rate is predicted to top 10 per cent – its highest level for 40 years. APR rates, monthly leasing charges, you name it, inevitably they’ll rise.

Also, there’s increasing and worrying evidence of rip-off renewal quotes from insurance companies. Real-world examples: in recent days, Auto Express Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler has publicly called out LV= for raising the price of one of his policies by over 50 per cent, despite no claims or changes in the last year. Separately, the same company is trying to slap an increase of 60 per cent on one of my policies, despite the fact that, again, no changes or claims have been made. Shouldn’t there be a law against this sort of thing?

But enough of the sometimes understandable, but too often wholly unjustifiable price increases in 2022. Instead, let’s identify the genuine car-related bargains that can still be enjoyed. For starters, the seven-seat Dacia Jogger for less money than a Fiesta or Polo is a no-brainer. Or how about an official reduction of up to £8,770 on some Peugeot EVs?

And I’m delighted to announce that the sub-£10,000 new car is about to make a welcome return. OK, the Citroen Ami is technically a quadricycle, but it’s a fine little runabout. And at circa £7,000 it’s the showroom bargain of the year, or possibly the decade. Whether you’re a cash-strapped youngster or pensioner, it might offer you your only chance to buy new.

Click here for our list of the cheapest cars on sale in the UK...

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