Thanks to their green image and economical benefits Electric Vehicles are an established choice for drivers in towns and cities. Now, thanks to government grants and with traditional marques such as Jaguar and Audi joining the revolution, they are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas too. Here, we examine whether they really offer a greener solution and take a sneak peak at some countryside-appropriate models.
It was almost 20 years ago that the first fully electric vehicles graced British roads. Since then they have been much-praised due to their producing considerably lower emissions than vehicles running on traditional fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel. In case you’ve forgotten your GCSE physics, fossil fuels are generated using crude oil, which is recovered through drilling for oil – a process notoriously harmful to the environment.
Are EVs as clean as the manufacturers would have us believe? Whilst EVs generally offer a much greener alternative once on the road, with their production still in its infancy, the answer is not quite clear cut. The loudest argument opposing EVs is their batteries. Producing an electric vehicle contributes, on average, twice as much to global warming potential and uses double the amount of energy, as producing a combustion engine car – mainly because of its battery.
EV battery production uses a lot of energy, from the extraction of raw materials to the electricity consumed in manufacture. The bigger the electric car and its range, the more battery cells are needed to power it, and consequently the more carbon produced. The issue of disposing of these batteries once they are no longer in use is also proving a challenge.
According to the website WeForum.org, EV batteries are forecast to make up 90% of the lithium-ion battery market by 2025 and it is the production and afterlife of these that are the main reason EVs can generate more carbon emissions over their lifecycle than petrol or diesel cars.
Secondly, once in use, an electric vehicle is only as green as the electricity that charges its battery: i.e. a coal-powered battery is obviously ‘dirtier’ than a solar-powered battery. So until the UK is generating greener energy across the grid, this too can be misleading.
The Government Grant: Further good news though comes in the form of a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a government grant (known as the Plug In Car Grant) to dealerships and manufacturers of up to £3.5k. It is worth noting that not all low-emission vehicles will get a grant; only vehicles approved by the government will be deemed eligible.
For cars, they must have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and able to travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions at all. Whilst this is certainly a positive step, there remains a need for industry-wide movement to combine production, sourcing and recycling, that is cost effective and paves the way for a truly green future. With EVs transporting us towards this future ideal faster, we have selected some of our favourites, from those currently on the road to newly unveiled models.
It felt fitting to start with this car, hailed as the Queen of EVs which has picked up numerous awards and received the prestigious 5* rating from What Car? and 8/10 from the notoriously scornful TopGear team. The first electric car I’ve had the pleasure of driving, this model is above all, fundamentally Jaguar – the epitome of style and unrivalled performance. The exterior is classically elegant with a highly aerodynamic design, dramatic bonnet and Jaguar’s signature rear haunches. The luxury continues inside, with seamlessly integrated technology, an impressive boot space for a compact SUV.
Featuring instant torque and all-wheel traction the I-PACE certainly packs a punch, reaching 60mph in 4.5 seconds. On full charge it has a range of 292 miles, which takes approximately 38 hours to achieve from 220V. Starting at £63,925, the I-PACE is eligible for the PICG and is very much a car of the now, which will transport you into the future.
Audi’s bid to conquer the electric car market is impressive. The marque’s first all-electric car is a modest, mid-sized SUV suitable for both town and rural living. With an instantly recognisable design, the e-tron features a sharp 12.3” digital display screen as standard. Fully charged, the e-tron is able to travel just over 240 miles and whilst less than the I-PACE, the use of adaptive air suspension making for a refined, comfortable ride.
With all the signature style of a conventional Audi, the e-tron really feels like a step up. With a starting price of £59,900 (before PICG) for the e-tron 50 Technik, this may well be a more affordable, premium and potentially more practical electric vehicle for the EV virgins among us.
Arguably the best small electric car on the market at the moment, the Zoe starts from £26,195 (inc PICG), Renault are also offering an extra £1k towards a new Renault Zoe. With a 5-year warranty, this is an affordable choice offering bold curves and sleek lines, whether you’re looking for a run around to the yard, your first car or to upgrade to an eco-vehicle. Less ideal for piling in children and dogs due to its compact size, you can nevertheless fit a few bales of bedding or bags of feed in the boot! With a driving range of up to 245 miles, you could purchase a new Renault Zoe from £269 per month with 0% APR.
Probably the most practical electric SUV I’ve seen to date. Rivalling the I-Pace’s range with up to 282 miles on a single charge, and at £34,495 it is almost half the price of an entry-level I-Pace. With an array of smart, modern accessories to compliment the performance and driver comfort, the e-Niro comes with a 7-year warranty and has won What Car? Car of the Year for 2020 and Car Buyer Best Electric Car 2020. With a modern, stylish interior, it has definite factor and the boot boasts a 451 litre cargo capacity – even more when the rear seats are folded.
I had the pleasure of attending the global unveiling of the Mustang Mach-E. Built from all of the passion from the Mustang’s original iconic status, the all-electric Mach-E is a new breed of Mustang and electric vehicle. With advanced electric dual motor AWD, it works to tackle challenging driving conditions and offers an impressive range – the highest of all the vehicles featured – of 370 miles and 0-60mph in less than 7 seconds. Featuring DC high-power charging capability, means it will recharge up to 58 miles of range in just ten minutes, this is a vehicle that re-imagines what it’s like to drive an electric car.
Arguably the King of electric cars, with it’s supermodel design and unparalleled technology, Tesla’s range is certainly ground-breaking. The only model eligible for the PICG, the Model X boasts best in class storage of up to 2,487 and the capability of towing up to 2,250 kg (not yet enough for a horse). The signature Falcon Wing doors are iconically futuristic and Dual Motor AWD sees it hailed as the ‘quickest SUV on-earth’ going from 0-60mph in as little as 2.7 seconds! Starting at £82,700 after the PiCG though, it’s perhaps one to aim for.
Now, whilst I have featured some of the best performing, practical and stylish EVs on the market, I can’t write this without mentioning the lack of a serious electric 4×4 or pick-up. However, Tesla have ignited rumours of a CyberTruck with ‘better utility than a truck and more performance than a sports car’. Could you get behind that? Even if it looks like this?
The ‘exoskeleton’ of the Cybertruck will be built with a cold rolled stainless-steel skin ‘for ultimate durability and passenger protection’, as well as armoured glass.’ Most definitely a vehicle that screams future. With vault-like storage in a load bay measuring 6.5ft long and the ability to tow up to 6350kg it also has a range of 500 miles on full charge and 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds.
Perhaps most significantly the base model is suggested to cost just just over £30k whilst the more advanced model estimated closer to £53,700. A huge drop in comparison to Tesla’s usual pricing…
For me though, the Cybertruck lacks the integral qualities of a real rugged and rural pick-up, but perhaps this is the future of our beloved utility vehicle? When this truck arrives in late 2021 we can decide, but personally I’ll be watching this space for something in between this and a classic UTV.
Are you the proud owner of an EV? If so, let us know which one? Get in touch via Instagram by searching @inthecountryinsta