Your Weekly Journey: Electric Vs Combustion

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Electric Cars: The Basics

For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we recommend a read of the following articles:

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How Do People Commute In The UK

Last year, the average round-trip commute was 20 miles, taking 54 minutes. Across the country, commuters in cars travel roughly the same distance with the South East having the furthest to drive at 22.4 miles, whilst London has the shortest commute at 17.2 miles. Despite a prevalence of public transport, 30% of London commuters still use a car to get to work and in rural areas the car accounts for 73% of travel to work.

London underground
London Underground

So, over a typical working week, Brits will spend five hours driving to and from work, over a distance of 100 miles. Some city-to-city journeys are 100 miles or more, such as Birmingham to London or Newcastle to Edinburgh, whilst a popular route like London to Manchester can be at least double that.  Although these journeys are taken less regularly by most, there is still a large swathe of drivers who need the ability to drive for hours on end.

Electric vehicles have become increasingly popular in recent years, with Nissan and Renault making waves in the lower-end market and Tesla and BMW shaking up the executive segment. As of May 2019, there were 22,355 new BEV or PHEV cars sold this year to date – equivalent to 2.4% market share. This might not sound particularly impressive but all-electric vehicles have grown 60% YoY during a time when overall car sales have fallen 3%

One of the sticking points when looking to purchase an electric car is the infrastructure, or belief that there is a lack of charging locations. In a recent study, Tonik Energy found that Sunderland is the best city for public charging, with one for every 1,560 license holders, whilst Portsmouth has just 16 chargers, or one for every 32,288 drivers. Despite this, most charging is done at home or work, but this isn’t without its own set of challenges. Poole, Dorset was found to be the easiest place to own an electric vehicle, as 91% of homes come with off-road parking – allowing for easy overnight charging – whereas only 48% of London homes have private parking, meaning a snake of cables across the pavement or the inability to charge at home at all. 

If, however, the stars align in your favor and you have a good mix of private and public charging choices, the benefits of electric car ownership are plentiful. Firstly, the cost to charge is between £3.60 at home or £12 at the most expensive motorway stops, with most models providing you over 200 miles of range. The additional cost of ownership is also lower, from reduced or non-existent road tax, up to 20% savings in servicing thanks to less moving parts, and levy-free travel into major UK cities. For business owners, or employees choosing an electric company car, the benefit-in-kind savings can be astronomical. Think back to those city-to-city drivers, an exec perhaps, who traditionally would’ve made their way to a German dealership and picked from the selection of 5-door saloons. Tesla saw that this segment in particular way ripe for disruption. The Model S 100D is a sleek mile-cruncher, with the status and performance to match and outpace most Mercedes, BMW and Audi equivalents. Where the Tesla comes into its own, however, is in the money drivers hand over to HMRC for the pleasure of having a company car. 

For a 40% tax payer, the monthly BiK for a Tesla Model S 100D would be £63 per month, compared to £1094 per month for a Mercedes S450. 

At the lower-end of the spectrum, where drivers are looking for an equivalent to their £15,000 hatchback, the BMW i3 comes out on top according to the critics. The modernist design, refined interior and aforementioned financial benefits mean global sales have tripled in the last five years. 

So, electric cars are more popular than ever, there are now more public charging stations then petrol stations, and you can save hundreds a month in running costs, but should your next car be electric?

If, like the average commuter, you drive 20 miles to work and back, with the occasional gaunt up the motorway, and have the ability to charge at home or work, then electric is certainly worth researching. But, if you’re driving hundreds of miles a day, only have on-street parking or are looking to keep your next car for over five years, there are considerations to be had.

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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