Best Electric Cars (EVs) 2020
Battery powered electric cars are becoming more and more popular with UK drivers with a rise of 21% in electrified vehicles in 2018 alone. The motivation behind so many more of us making the switch undoubtedly has something to do with the increased awareness of the damage petrol and diesel fueled cars are doing to our planet. And, of course, that they are so much cheaper to run, especially if you’re generating your own energy via solar PV panels.
Equally exciting, however, are the massive improvements in the affordability, performance, mileage capabilities and general ‘good looks’ of the new EVs on the market. With electric vehicles levelling the playing field with fossil-fueled cars there are plenty of reasons to make the switch, but which model is right for you?
Best Electric Cars
Based on our research and the recommendations of some of the UK’s leading car experts and publications, we’ve chosen 8 of the best purely electric vehicles available to buy today. They’re listed here from most to least expensive, but each EV has its own pros and cons to consider as you’ll see in the summaries below.
NOTE: When it comes to the price of EVs, you can reduce the cost of many models of by £3,500 with the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). The EV needs to have a Category 1 rating which means it produces CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112 kilometres (70 miles) without producing any CO2 emissions. All the cars featured here are eligible for the grant and the discount is automatically applied when you purchase, i.e. there’s no eligibility criteria or application process.
|EV Make & Model||Driving Range on a Single Charge (WLTP)*||Acceleration||Top Speed||Battery Capacity|| Approximate Price (before £3,500 PiCG grant applied)
|Tesla Model X 100D||Up to 351 miles||0-60 in 4.7 seconds||155 mph||100 kWh||From £90,800|
|Jaguar i-Pace||Up to 292 miles||0-60 in 4.5 seconds||124 mph||90 kWh||From £64,495|
|Kia e-Niro||Up to 282 miles||0-62 mph in 7.8 seconds||104 mph||64 kWh||From £36,495|
|BMW i3||Up to 160 miles||0-62 mph in 7.3 seconds||93 mph||38 kWh||From £35,180|
|VW Golf||Up to 144 miles||0-62 mph in 9.6 seconds||93 mph||35.8 kWh||From £33,240|
|Nissan Leaf Acenta||Up to 242 miles||0-62 mph in 7.9 seconds||89.5 mph||40 kWh||From £30,190|
|Hyundai Kona||Up to 279 miles||0-62 mph in 7.6 seconds||104 mph||64 kWh||From £35,706|
|Renault Zoe||Up to 186 miles||0-62 mph in 11.4 seconds||84 mph||41 kWh||From £21,220|
*WLTP stands for Worldwide Harmonised Light-Duty Vehicles Test Procedure which is a globally standardised testing procedure for calculating fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Best Electric Vehicle for Speed & Performance
Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X
For many people Tesla is the ultimate in electric vehicle technology. The Model X is an SUV and features Tesla’s signature hinged gullwing ‘Falcon’ doors for that ultimate futuristic experience. The car is surprisingly spacious inside seating between 4-7 adults (depending on the seating layout you choose) and a storage trunk at both the back and the front.
The biggest advantage Tesla has over the competition, however, is the 100 kWh battery which provides up to 351 miles of range from a single charge. This is largely due to its aerodynamic design; at 0.25, Model X’s drag coefficient is 20% lower than the next best SUV. And, with a top speed of 155 mph and acceleration of 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, it beats any other EV in our comparison for performance.
As you might expect, the Tesla badge comes with a hefty price tag which makes it out of reach for the average buyer with prices from £90,800. Even the slightly less powerful model, the Model X 75D will cost you at least £75k. However, for speed lovers who can afford it, the Tesla is a no brainer.
Best Electric Vehicles for Families
Nissan Leaf Acenta
The Nissan Leaf is arguably one of the most well-known EVS and for a long time was the only affordable option for many EV adopters. The Leaf has been given a 25% boost in battery power since the earliest versions; it now has a range of 168 miles and was the best-selling EV in Europe in 2018.
The Nissan Leaf is still one of the most affordable EVs on the market and has the practical Intelligent Mobility design features which make it ideal for small families such as E-Pedal which enables you to accelerate, brake and complete stop all with one pedal, Safety Shield Technology and the Around View Monitor.
The Jaguar i-Pace has been designed to be as sleek and compact as possible with 5 seats, a rear loadspace of up to 656 litres or 1,453 litres with the rears seats folded and 27 litres in the front storage compartment. Perfect for big families who like to take trips away, especially when you consider the impressive 292 mile range.
The i-Pace is Jaguar’s first all-electric car and is the closest competitor to a Tesla in terms of top speed, acceleration and range And while its 90 kWh battery and range doesn’t quite match up with the Tesla Model X at 100 kWh and 351 mile range, the i-Pace is over £26k cheaper. The car boasts a highly aerodynamic design with a low drag coefficient of 0.29, goes from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and delivers 696Nm of instant torque and sports car agility.
Best Small Electric Vehicles for City Living
The BMW i3 is a 4-seater car with a small boot but it’s more ‘upmarket’ (and more expensive) than other EVs of comparable size like the Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe. It is however both easy to drive and easy on the eyes with a sporty bumper, LED headlights and high-resolution 10.2-inch screen with sat nav as standard.
The VW e-Golf is slightly different to other EVs as it has been produced as part of a range alongside petrol and diesel cars rather than as a standalone model. It has some visual differences such a covered grille, with blue details, LED lights and unique wheels – but otherwise is built very similarly to standard Golf cars. It also has a slightly smaller boot because of the underfloor lithium ion batteries, but it’s a great car for town or city driving.
Best Electric Vehicles on a Budget
Despite being at the lower end of the EV price scale, the Hyundai Kona is capable of an impressive 279 miles of range and performs better in acceleration and speed than any other comparably priced EV. We’ve featured the model with the 64 kWh battery but the Kona is also available with a 39kWh battery for a lower price (from £30,750). Nice extras include the touchscreen entertainment system and a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty.
The Hyundai Kona came out on top in our comparison with the BMW i3 – read more and find out why it won.
The cheapest EV in this comparison is the Renault Zoe which makes it a great starter car for those wanting to embrace EV technology without spending a fortune. While its top speed and acceleration isn’t as powerful as the pricier models, it still manages a longer range than the pricier BMW i3 and VW e-Golf. And, based on our calculations, it offers the lowest running cost at 3.3p per mile.
Best Value Electric Vehicle
The new Kia e-Niro has come out on top for us for a few reasons. Specifically, the e-Niro can achieve up to 282 miles in range which is just 10 miles less than the Jaguar i-Pace and it does so for nearly £30k less money. The car is covered by the brand’s industry-leading 7-year/100,000-mile warranty. It features some great driving enhancement features such as the Smart Cruise Control (SCC) which uses the car’s radar to regulate both the speed and Smart Regenerative Braking helps to save energy, recharge the battery and enable easy effortless one-pedal driving.
Plus, if you needed more convincing, the Kia e-Niro has won the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2019. High praise indeed.
Why Buy Any Electric Vehicle?
In years gone by EVs had a reputation for being a bit of a novelty with no real attraction for the majority of car buyers. They were slower than normal cars, inconvenient to charge, limited in how far they could travel and incredibly expensive. How times have changed!
Electric vehicle technology is moving fast and there are more models at more affordable prices than ever before. And, because the industry is accepting that EVs are the future of transport if we want to keep our planet spinning for as long as possible, driving an EV is no longer a sacrifice made only by the wealthy or the passionate environmentalist.
When it comes to buying your next car, here are some of big reasons you should be considering an Electric Vehicle:
Unlike petrol and diesel cars, Electric Vehicles don’t produce emissions at the tailpipe which is a massive advantage when it comes to securing the future of our planet. A European Climate Foundation-commissioned report used 2017 data to demonstrate that replacing a fossil fuel-powered car with an electric model can cut greenhouse gas emissions by half over the course of the vehicle’s lifetime. A small EV produces around 15 tonnes of CO2 from construction through to scrapping, compared to an average of 32 tonnes for the equivalent petrol or diesel car.
Low Running Costs
Compared to the cost of diesel or petrol, EVs deliver hugely reduced running costs. Plus, if you install solar panels on your roof to generate your own free electricity, you could be running your EV for free!
Find out How to Use Solar Panels to Charge a Car.
NOTE: We’ve gone into more detail about the low running costs of electric vehicles later in this article.
Prices are Falling Fast
It’s true that EVs are generally more costly than the equivalent diesel or petrol car, but the price gap is decreasing. In fact, it looks like the price of an EV will be on a par with combustion engine cars as soon as 2021.
In addition, the government’s Plug-in Grant (PiCG ) automatically cuts 35% (up to a maximum of £3,500) from the purchase price. This grant used to be £4,500 and is likely to be stopped altogether as EVs become more widely available and affordable in the next few years.
Cheap & Easy Maintenance
Depending on the warranty included and how much you use the car, you may need to replace the battery at some point, but general day to day maintenance is very simple. if you’re charging at home there’s no fuel to buy – the electricity you use to at home for charging is added onto your usual electricity bills – no oil changes, very few moving parts to wear out and and many electric cars last for years without any repair or service bills at all. Brakes also tend to last much longer than they do on a petrol or diesel car.
Excellent Driving Experience & Safety Records
EVs are renowned for their quick and smooth pickup and high torque power as well as how quiet they are from both inside and outside the car. They pass the same safety tests as standard vehicles and many have even scored higher in crash test safety ratings. It’s a common misconception that EVs are a fire risk, but in actuality EVs are far less likely to catch fire than gas cars. On average, petrol or diesel cars will catch fire at the approximate rate of 1 fire in every 20 million miles driven. For EVs, the rate is 1 fire per 120 million miles driven.
National Network of Public Charge Points
EV owners used to face the anxiety around driving too far away from home, running out of charge and not being able to find one of the few EV charge points. Today this is not the case. Not only do EVs have a bigger mileage range which should be more than enough for the average driver, more and more EV charge points are being installed throughout the UK for public use. For particularly long journeys there are now apps and websites such as Zap-Map which enable you to plan a route with EV charge points for peace of mind.
Charge at Home
If you install a home charge point for your EV you may never need to stop for fuel again. You simply plug in overnight and get back on the road the next morning. Charging at home becomes even more of a bonus if you add solar panels to your home which will power the charge point with free, renewable electricity.
Charging Electric Vehicles with Solar Panels
While an EV produces zero emissions at the tailpipe, the production of standard electricity usually involves the burning of fossil fuels (unless your supplier generates via solar or wind power). This means they’re not a completely green technology if you’re using your mains supply to power it.
The most environmentally friendly (and cheapest) way to run an EV is to generate your renewable own electricity with solar panels. Solar panels are fitted to the roof where they can absorb sunlight which is then converted into useable electricity for both your home and car. The cost of installing solar panels is basically like purchasing fuel for your car in advance.
Solar panels will only generate electricity during the day. If you’re one of the many people who is out during the day, you’ll be missing out on much of the free electricity generated by your panels. You will also need to install a solar battery which will store surplus solar energy (any energy you haven’t used during the day) so you can charge your car at night.
To find out how many solar panels you need to charge an electric car, and the potential fuel savings you could make, take a look at our article on Electric Vehicles & Solar Panels.
Running Costs for an Electric Vehicle (EV)
Electric car batteries have a maximum capacity which is represented by kilowatt hours (kWh); this tells you how much electricity the battery can store. The average cost of electricity from a domestic supply is around 15p per kWh, but your exact tariff may be slightly higher or lower than this depending on your supplier.
Based on this estimation, here’s approximately how much it would cost to charge the battery of each of the electric vehicles we’ve featured. We’ve also calculated a rough cost per mile based on the WLTP range of each car.
|EV Make & Model||Battery capacity (kWh)||Approximate cost to charge battery @ 15p per kWh||Maximum range from a single charge (miles)||Approximate running cost per mile||Approximate running cost over 13,000 miles|
|Tesla Model X 100D||100||£15.00||351||4.3p||£559.00|
|Nissan Leaf Acenta||40||£6.00||242||2.5p||£325.00|
If you compare this to the average cost per mile of running a diesel car of 15p, the diesel car would cost £1,950 to run for 13,000 miles. Based on these figures, that’s a saving of between £1,391 – £1,521.
Of course, if you’re using solar generated electricity to power your electric vehicle your running costs could be much lower (or even zero), depending on the size of your solar panel system, how much of the solar energy you’re using in the home and how many miles you drive.
Interested in Running an EV on Solar Electricity?
If you’re considering or planning to make the switch to an electric vehicle you may want to investigate getting solar panels installed on your roof. The free electricity they generate could significantly reduce your running costs as well as contributing to your everyday domestic electricity supply.
We have a network of MCS certified (or equivalent) solar panel installers across the UK ready to provide free, no-obligation quotes. To find out how much a solar panel system for your home will cost send us a quick enquiry today. We’ll put you in touch with up to 3 trustworthy and highly recommended companies in your area at absolutely no cost to you.