After a rather shaky start, the uptake of battery electric cars is finally on the rise, as more and more motorists, seduced by the tax exemption and claimed low running costs these vehicles offer, make the switch and abandon conventional power in an attempt to reduce their outgoings.

Indeed, more than 2,000 electric cars have been sold in the UK during the first five months of this year – more than double the total amount sold throughout 2013.

However, those who have taken the plunge may find their day-to-day running costs exceeding those of conventionally powered cars, because of the end of government subsidies for the installation and maintenance of public charging points.

Local councils have turned to awarding contracts to private companies in a bid to cover costs, which has resulted in prices rising.

"The public rapid chargers are intended for occasional use."

While the government continues to offer a £5,000 grant to customers of electric vehicles, which brings their more expensive retail asking prices more in line with petrol and diesel cars, subsidies for free charging at public outlets have now also ended.

Charge Master, one of the biggest operators of roadside plug-in points, now asks for £7.50 for a half-hour quick charge. There is concern that such prices will kill the market for electric vehicles just as it gets into its stride.

Speaking to the BBC, Andrew Fenwick-Green, of the Electric Vehicle Drivers Association, said: "A gallon of diesel for most eco-diesels will cost you £6.30 and get you around 60 miles.

"A 30-minute rapid charge in my Nissan Leaf would give you a range of 64 miles. So we're paying an extra £1.20 more to get the same mileage. It's madness… if the rapid chargers go up to £7.50 we're going to kill the market at a stroke.”

However, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer defended the high costs, and told BBC Radio 4: "The whole point of this is that you charge at home. That leaves you with a cost of about 2p per mile, which is why it's attractive to the people who have been buying these cars.

"The public rapid chargers are intended for occasional use."

Have you made the switch to an electric car? Have you found your outgoings were more than you expected? Have your say below.

Daljinder Nagra


June 30, 2014

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