The publicâ€™s distrust of electric vehicles is gradually melting away as battery ranges increase â€“ but which EVs should you consider buying now?
Electric cars are the future, so they say. And that future could be nearer than you think if you live in a big city, where stringent anti-pollution laws will be coming into force over the next few years.
The dreaded â€˜range anxietyâ€™ has always held back electric vehicle (EV) sales, but now that the maximum you can expect has gone up from around 150 miles per charge to something nearer to double that, the fear of not reaching a destination is dwindling away.
If most of your driving is in or near a conurbation, then EVs already make sense for you. Theyâ€™re perfect for school runs or shopping trips, and even though the days of the free public charge-up are numbered, EV running costs are still very low. They drive well too, with instant power, and of course youâ€™re not polluting the atmosphere. Well, not directly anyway.
With more and more manufacturers dipping their toes into the electric market, youâ€™re no longer restricted to a handful of models. Genuine choices are popping up in different market sectors â€“ not just in superminis but also SUVs and luxury cars.
So, which EVs are the best? Here are our ten favourites right now.
10. Volkswagen e-Up
We love the practical and sweet-driving Up. The electric version is just as nice to drive. Shame itâ€™s double the price of the regular Up.
9. Nissan Leaf
The affordable Astra-sized Leaf is an easy drive with two battery options: a 24kWh with a theoretical 124-mile range, and a 30kWh with 155 miles. You have to go for a dearer spec car to get the bigger battery though.
8. Toyota Mirai
Hydrogen fuelling isn’t hard in itself, but finding a station selling hydrogen can be. If you live near one, then the 152bhp electric Mirai is a quiet and refined zero-emissions option. Itâ€™ll cost you, mind. Â£66,000.
7. Kia Soul EV
Kia’s first electric car actually drives better than the original petrol Soul. The instant power makes it nicely responsive and it’s quiet too. Itâ€™s no bargain at nearly Â£30k before the Govt grant, especially given its cheap-feeling cabin, but there is a 7-year warranty.
6. Tesla Model X
Offering Range Rover Sport levels of luxury without the guilt, Tesla’s all-electric family SUV delivers low running costs with practicality and pace, but you might wince at some of the interior quality.
5. Hyundai Ioniq
You can get an Ioniq as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or a fully electric car. The EV has a claimed range of 174 miles and good pickup in town. Premium models have standard sat-nav and heated front seats.
4. Volkswagen e-Golf
All the good stuff you expect from a â€˜normalâ€™ Golf, but with much reduced running costs.
3. BMW i3
An attention-grabbing interior and nifty handling give the i3 plenty of appeal, while the carbonfibre and aluminium construction offset the performance-sapping weight of the batteries. Besides a full-electric model, thereâ€™s a Range Extender version with a small petrol engine to keep the batteries topped up.
2. Tesla Model S
Refined, comfy and bonkers fast, the Model S will deliver shock and awe acceleration to up to seven passengers. The trademark 17in touchscreen houses most of the controls, updates wirelessly and still looks amazing.
1. Renault Zoe
Look at the Zoe as a regular, stylish supermini that also happens to be super-cheap to run and youâ€™ve got the right idea. Seating four in decent comfort and squirting through traffic like a dose of salts, the latest Zoe has a much longer 250-mile range and a shorter charging time.