Emission standards are the legal requirements that govern air pollutants released into the atmosphere, but since 2015, vehicle manufacturers have been battling the legal consequences after being caught fitting defeat devices to fix the levels and make them appear lower than the limit.
‘Dieselgate‘ manufacturers are now facing hefty fines and paying out compensation to customers who purchased a vehicle fitted with the device. Their judgement has not only cost them monetarily, but it has cost the planet crucial time as we all battle to reduce emission levels to halt irreparable climate change.
Now with the pressure to hit net zero by 2050 (UK target), sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by the end of 2030. The push towards electric vehicles (EVs) is now growing at a rapid pace and considering the future normal is still new to many of us, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the options out there, let alone all of the new jargon that comes with it. Let us help explain things so that you know what’s what so you don’t end up paying for more than you need.
Types of electric vehicles
The two main types of electric vehicles you should be keeping an eye out on, both classed by the extent that electricity is used as the energy source are:
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
BEVs are fully electric vehicles, they run only on electricity and use a rechargeable battery to power the vehicles, meaning they have zero tailpipe emissions.
Typically, the mileage on BEV models ranges from 100-300 miles, this can go higher depending on the make and model. Driving conditions and how you use your vehicle can also impact how many miles you can get out of the charge, just in the same way petrol and diesel vehicles use fuel.
The majority of electric vehicles come as automatic, most often with one gearbox, and regenerative brakes slow the car when you lift off the throttle to help replenish the battery.
Be prepared for upfront costs to be generally much higher than traditional petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles, but running costs tend to be considerably lower.
Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
PHEV vehicles use batteries to power an electric motor, and either petrol or diesel fuel to power the engine.
A PHEV will typically start in electric mode and will run on electricity until the battery pack is depleted. If you’re someone who only completes short journeys, you may find that you only use battery power. For longer journeys, you may notice more frequent trips to fill up due to the smaller fuel tank.
Many people branching out into the electric vehicle world use PHEV vehicles as a stepping-stone before going fully electric.
You might see a type of EV called Hybrid, which is similar to a PHEV however, the battery is smaller meaning that it can be inefficient for longer journeys, but you do not need to plug this in to charge as it has regenerative brakes. The limited electric range on a Hybrid vehicle means that the sale of new models will end in 2035.
Is it more costly to own an EV?
Generally, EVs have higher purchase costs than petrol and diesel, but this shouldn’t be something to put you off when considering opting for a more eco-conscious vehicle.
In the long run, EV running costs will save you money as fuel, tax and maintenance are all cheaper. In fact, until April 2025, EVs are exempt from road tax or vehicle excise duty. This can save you over £100 a year with traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, depending on emission levels.
It’s important to remember that you still have to tax your vehicle, even though you won’t be paying anything.
EVs still need an MOT and will require servicing at the same intervals as traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. Servicing an EV should be quicker, with less to check and less parts to repair — this means lower maintenance costs in the long-run.
Currently, it might cost more to visit a mechanic as they might not know much about EVs, so try and find one under the Electric Vehicle Approved scheme. This aims to recognise dealers and mechanics who are skilled in selling and servicing EVs.
Previously, it cost more to insure an EV with insurers saying this was down to the cars being less common than traditional vehicles, meaning the cost of replacement parts is higher and repairs must be done by specialist mechanics. Now EVs are becoming more popular, the prices have come down and are now comparable with diesel and petrol vehicles.
What about charging costs with the current energy crisis?
It’s important to consider how to charge an EV, even with a small battery it can take hours depending on the speed of the charge point.
It’s cheaper to charge your vehicle at home if you have a charge point. The size of your car’s battery, how often you use it and your energy tariff can all impact the cost. Recently, energy providers have been offering special tariffs aimed at owners of EVs. These tariffs usually work by charging you one rate for electricity throughout the day rather than fluctuating.
If you live in a flat or rented accommodation, you may be able to get help under the Government’s EV Chargepoint Grant to get a charge point installed at home.
You can compare specific models of electric vehicles against petrol or diesel cars, based on the price you pay for petrol and how much you pay for electricity by using a handy tool like this journey cost calculator.
You can use public charge points however, these cost more and you might end up fighting for space with other EV owners.
You can combat this by using a handy map provided by Zap-Map, it has over 95% of public charge points located on it and shows live availability for around 70% of them. The map also has around 4,000 free charge points in the UK located in it, just filter your payment method and you’re good to go.
Emission exemption zones
Many places in the UK have introduced or will be introducing, low emissions or clean air zones. The scheme charges the worst polluting vehicles a set amount daily to drive in the zone. The idea is to reduce emissions in cities, while also encouraging people to think twice before opting for an emission-heavy vehicle.
EVs and PHEVs are all exempt from these charges, although if you have a full hybrid, some of the older diesel models may not pass the emissions standards. The crackdown on emissions is set to come into effect more over the course of the next couple of years, you could be saving yourself around £8-£12 a day depending on how often you drive through these zones.
Making the switch
The best thing to do is to read up on EVs and ask people you know who owns one. This will make it easier for you when you decide to purchase or lease one and, makes it less likely for you to be paying more than you need to. It’s important to stand your ground with the seller as well, don’t feel pressured, especially if they know a little more than you.
Make a checklist of all the things you need from your new EV, consider how much you drive, charging points, speak to your electricity supplier beforehand about tariffs they can offer you, think of any questions you have before purchasing. Go to the seller with this in mind, then walk away. If they have to chase you, you’re more likely to get a better deal, but it also means you’re not falling into any traps that are set up for first-time EV buyers.
If you bought, or leased, a diesel car between 2009 and 2020, you may have a case for claiming compensation.
Motorists, such as yourself, may have been led to believe that your car was more economical and better for the environment. Vehicles were fitted with a device that adjusted the emission level output when the ‘real world’ performance had up to 40 times the permitted legal allowance.
You can read more about ‘dieselgate’ by clicking here or you can submit your no-win no-fee claim by completing the quick and easy form below.