Renault has backed the Government’s plans to provide additional funding for electric charge points. The Government recently announced it will provide £37m of funding to local authorities, NHS trusts and train operators to implement facilities for electric cars to repower.
As part of the plan the government will provide 75 per cent of the funding for new charge points, increasing the availability of electric power for new cars. Electric cars have grown in popularity in recent years, with average costs falling for new vehicles as manufacturers reap the benefits from economies of scale in production.
With the implementation of the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant, which sees new electric cars discounted by £5,000, buyers can purchase a Renault ZOE for around £13,995, not far off a conventional petrol equivalent.
Buyers of the ZOE are even eligible for a free domestic charge point, which is supplied and installed by British Gas. Renault believes that 90 per cent of charging will take place at home, although the introduction of public charge points will now make it even easier for new car buyers to convert to electric technology:
"The two most common preconceptions of electric vehicles are an expensive purchase price and lack of public opportunity to charge,” said Ben Fletcher, Renault UK's electric vehicle product manager.
“ZOE's pricing puts the first point to rest, and this latest announcement, on top of the established highly developed network of public charging points, answers the second and allows customers to buy EV with complete confidence.”
Renault has already sold 100,000 electric vehicles across the globe. BMW has joined the electric car market with the recent announcement that it will commercialise the i3, expected to go on sale next year. However, with a price of around £35,000 for a relatively small vehicle, it will be a while until it is affordable for the mass market.
BMW’s mechanics claim that the cost of producing electric vehicles can be reduced because they drastically reduce the number of part requirements. BMW believe that their product portfolio will include around 30 per cent of plug-ins and hybrid vehicles in 2025. Chief Executive, Norbert Reithofer, said he is taking a long view on the potential of electric vehicles:
"If you build such a car…you have to look into the future, 10, 15, 20 years," Mr. Reithofer said. "If you look around the world, [at] the emissions regulations, in the United States, in the European Union, even in China…cars like the BMW i3 are a must."
Other manufacturing electric vehicles include Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, who have an electric version of its B-Class available from next year. However VW Audi said they are likely to delay plug-in models until better battery technology is developed.
One of the difficulties with electric vehicles, aside from prohibitively high sale prices, is the range on offer to drivers. BMW hope that by using lightweight construction, with a carbon fibre chassis, the i3 will deliver 80 to 100 miles of driving between charges. Renault’s ZOE has a range of around 90 miles in temperate conditions and 60 miles in colder weather.
The more economical Fiat 500e, which starts at £21,520 before tax incentives, has a range of 87 miles. Nissan’s Leaf, which starts at just under £15,990, can last for 75 miles. Hybrid vehicles offer the additional advantage of utilising conventional petrol technology too, allowing users to switch between technology when electric power is depleted.
Overall, it seems that electric technology is finally making a firm breakthrough in the passenger car market, it could be time to trade-in your gas guzzler for a new ultra-low carbon alternative.