Analysis by cap hpi suggests at present some EV models can be sold after a year of ownership for more money than originally purchased
Buoyed by car companies starting to offer a wider choice of models and an increasing availability of places to charge up, the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) has surged in the UK in recent years.
Sales of plug-in cars - including pure electric and hybrids - have risen from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 135,000 by the end of last month, driven in large part by growing demand from business customers keen to take advantage of lower running costs and reputational benefits. In addition, there are now 60 plug-in models available to buy in the UK, and around 14,900 public charge points.
Yet the rising interest in EVs goes beyond a simple zeitgeist craving to own the latest tech, as evidence suggests it is also delivering a boost to the used car market, where some EV models are actually increasing in value, according to automotive data experts cap hpi.
Analysis by cap hpi suggests a combination of air quality concerns, regulatory changes, purchasing incentives, cheaper running costs, and the release of wider variety of models has helped pique an interest in EVs that actually means some savvy motorists may already be making a profit on electric cars they bought just 12 months' ago.
Even after running for 12 months with 10,000 miles on the clock, an EV can be sold for more money than its original purchase price, the analysis found. A Peugeot Ion appreciated 8.6 per cent to add £425 to its value, for example, while the Vauxhall Ampera's average appreciation stands at 5.3 per cent or £725 in value. The most popular EV on the market - the Nissan Leaf - has an average appreciation of four per cent, or £456 on its original value.
The same goes for hybrid cars, too, with the Toyota Yaris Hybrid appreciating on average 2.6 per cent or £292, and the Lexus GS Hybrid gaining an average of 0.7 per cent or £178 on top of purchase price.
Compare that to the used car market for petrol or diesel vehicles, when a car loses value the minute you drive it off the showroom forecourt. Indeed, after just one year a typical fossil fuel car can lose around 40 per cent of its value, making depreciation a driver's single biggest cost after fuel purchase, according to the AA.
As such, given the relative lack of maintenance and breakdowns for battery vehicles compared to a more complex combustion engine, the analysis suggests electric vehicles may not just be better for the environment and cheaper to run, but may also make for a sound investment.
It is worth noting, however, that the findings apply to just some and certainly not all EV models. Moreover, used EV car sales are likely to be particularly strong at the moment because demand for EVs currently outstrips supply, as car manufacturers rush to get more models into production in the wake of the VW dieselgate scandal and Tesla's high profile EV push.
Yet it nevertheless demonstrates that consumer appetite for low emission cars is growing significantly, as drivers weigh up the benefits of EV ownership over petrol or diesel alternatives, according to Chris Plumb, Black Book editor at cap hpi.
"Our latest analysis shows that drivers who buy the right EV can still make money on a sale after running it for a year and adding 10,000 miles," he said. "This will be a major factor in persuading more drivers to go down the EV road. EVs and plug-in hybrids provide a good balance between range and efficiency plus the economic benefits for motorists can be enormous, offering big savings on fuel and tax costs as well as much lower maintenance costs."
Meanwhile, work to allay driver fears over 'range anxiety' continues to gather pace, further strengthening the case for incorporating EVs in corporate fleets. Reports over the weekend suggest National Grid is planning to install a fleet of rapid EV chargepoints along UK motorways capable of powering up an electric car in just five to 12 minutes. That would put charging an EV on a par with the average seven minutes it takes to refuel a petrol car, according to the Financial Times.
National Grid has reportedly mapped motorways and transmission networks across the UK to identify 50 suitable sites for EV chargers, with their locations situated so that more than 90 per cent of drivers would never be further than 50 miles from a rapid charge point - far nearer than the typical range of EV models available today in the UK.
Whether certain EVs continue to be a savvy investment as well as a low emission mode of transport for the foreseeable future remains to be seen, but for increasing numbers of UK motorists the present, and not just the future, is clearly electric.
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