Paul Homewood has a very useful comparison between the cost of the electric Nissan Leaf car and a couple of super-efficient Ford Focuses. The electric car turns out to be a much worse buy. But looking at the costs of motoring to the consumer, and the tax costs can be complex, so there are a couple of points that I would amend.
First is that the £5000 rebate on an electric car is relevant to the buying decision. Otherwise it would not be in place. The purchaser of the car ends up paying £5000 less, so that is a reduction in both the depreciation and the borrowing they will face. As a result the annual cost differential on your figures reduces from £3200 to £1350. However, due to the differential in maintenance this figure is more like £1700.
Second is the difference in tax revenue. New cars attract 20% VAT. For the Leaf this is £4750. After the rebate, the exchequer gives out £250. VAT on the focus Focus Diesel is about £3300. In 3 years, the net tax revenue on the Leaf (purchase price, 5% VAT on electricity, 20% VAT in maintenance) is £50. On both Fords it is £5100.
The figures, by chance, fall out the same. Buy a Nissan Leaf instead of a Ford Focus and both you and the Exchequer will be about £5000 worse off over three years.
The differences do not stop there. As AC Osborn rightly points out there is a problem with range. The Leaf is limited to about 100 miles before a recharge of over four hours. As such, for families, it becomes a second car, whereas the a Focus with a range of at least 400 miles and a five minute refill can both serve for the school run / daily commute and for longer trips as well. An electric car becomes more of a lifestyle car, so on cost the Leaf is competing with an Audi A3 or similar.
By Paul Homewood
With oil prices falling through the floor, and confirmation of just how much electricity prices are going to rise in the next few years, it is time to look again at the comparative costs of electric and conventional cars.
The Nissan Leaf seems to be the most popular electric car in the UK, and is comparable, from a specification point of view, to the Ford Focus. The Leaf Acenta is the mid range version, and can be compared with the Focus Zetec, which I have shown for both the 1.6 TDCi diesel and Eco 1.0 petrol options.
So first, some basic costs and specifications.
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