The UK market for plug-in electric vehicles now provides a wide range of options from mainstream manufacturers, with government incentives to encourage purchases.
These battery cell vehicles are recharged by plugging into the mains electricity, at home, workplace or a public charging station. The cost can be as little as 1p per mile, depending on tariff, making them much more economical than any other kind of fuel.
The only downside is that they cost more to purchase initially than cars with the traditional internal combustion engine.
But with grants of up to a third of the purchase price, they look much more affordable.
Hybrid technology is the alternative to battery cell power: a combination of petrol and electric. The electric motor drives the car at very low speeds, such as in traffic jams, with the petrol engine taking over when you need more power.
The Government Plug-in Car Grant
If you are buying a brand new environmentally friendly, fully electric or plug-in hybrid car which costs less than £60,000, a plug-in car grant is available from the government.
Category one cars are eligible for a grant of 35 per cent of their purchase price, up to a maximum of £4,500.
They have to emit less than 50g/km of CO2 and have a range of at least 70 miles between charges. The batteries must also have a warranty of at least three years, or 60,000 miles.
Cars that qualify for a category one plug-in car grant
Ford Focus Electric
Kia Soul EV
Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model X
There is also a lesser plug-in car grant, category two
To be eligible for a category two plug-in car grant, the plug-in hybrid vehicle must have the same CO2 emissions – no more than 50g/km – and be able to travel between 10 and 69 miles in electric-only mode.
The discount is a maximum of £2500 or 35% of the purchase price, whichever is lower.
Cars that qualify for a category two plug-in car grant
Audi A3 e-tron
BMW 225xe Active Tourer
Kia Optima PHEV
Mercedes E350e SE (with 17-inch alloy wheels only)
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Toyota Prius Plug-in
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Volkswagen Passat GTE
Volvo V60 D5 and D6 Twin Engine
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
Apart from low emissions and fuel economy, other benefits of driving an electric vehicle include free or cheap parking, no Vehicle Exercise Duty and no congestion charge to pay in London.
If you are wondering why we have a section on electric vehicles in a feature on motoring for disabled drivers and passengers, the simple answer is that environmental change will affect us all – and it is everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to improve the situation.
Depending on model, electric cars may also be easier to drive, and so suit some disabled users better.