Best electric cars on sale 2018

27 Jul, 2018 3:00pm Sam Naylor

Electric cars are getting better than ever. Here we pick 10 of the best

Fossil fuels are a finite resource, and with petrol and diesel cars also under pressure from legislators, the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is gradually increasing. Today, there are more electric cars for sale than ever, and we've ranked our top 10 here.

In the past, the appeal of EVs was limited by their short range and long charging times. However, rapid developments in battery tech and charge points mean that electric cars today have a range that could only be dreamt of a decade ago.

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Back then, it was the Reva G-Wiz that led the electric car craze, although that model was hardly a car at all, as it was classed as a quadricycle. It used basic lead-acid batteries, similar to the electric milk floats that graced British streets in the seventies and eighties, and was slow, cramped and not very safe. So when the Nissan Leaf, it couldn't help but kick-start electric car development and put it into overdrive.

As a five-door, five-seat hatchback, the Leaf offered the usability of a conventional family car, and it instantly became the best-selling EV on sale, albeit at lower numbers than its petrol and diesel counterparts. Initially the Leaf's range was 80 miles at best, but constant development and improvement has seen that range increase, while the arrival of the Leaf Mk2 in 2018 sees the car gain a range more in-keeping with a conventional petrol car.

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Seeing the success of the Leaf, rival car makers got in on the act and introduced their own EVs. Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Ford and Volkswagen have all joined the electric revolution, while BMW has created its own EV sub-brand. US firm Tesla has its own following with its range of all-electric cars, while prestige makers Audi and Jaguar are producing their own luxury EVs, and companies such as Rimac and Nio also build all-electric hypercars.

Will an electric car suit you?

There are advantages and disadvantages to EV ownership, much like there are with the internal combustion engine. The biggest hang-up potential owners have with electric cars is how far they can drive on a charge. There are also question marks over charging, but both of these issues are becoming less significant as the technology improves.

If you're thinking of buying an EV, then it's worth doing some calculations before taking the plunge. Work out how many miles you cover in your average journeys, and if it's within the everyday driving range that many manufacturers quote these days, then you should be fine to run an EV.

Charging shouldn't be much of an issue, as many EV makers offer high-voltage charging options that can be installed in your home or work place, assuming that you have off-street parking that makes this possible. And if you buy a Tesla, you have access to the company's Supercharger network, allowing you to rapid charge its models at popular locations across the country. There are fast-charge options for other EVs at motorway service stations and shopping centres across the UK, too, so they are designed to recharge your car while you're taking a break from driving.

In some ways, owning an EV means you have to change the way you think about keeping your car topped up. With petrol or diesel cars, you fill them when the tank is empty, but with an EV, the idea is to keep the battery topped up, ready to go, much like a smartphone. Once you're in tune with this way of looking at EV ownership, then hopefully you'll hardly ever need to worry about range anxiety.

Plugging in an EV to charge is a mess-free affair, simply plug the car in like you're charging any device, and that's it - no dirty petrol pumps or fuel spillages to deal with. And with zero tailpipe emissions, EVs deliver no local pollution, helping air quality in built up areas. The pollution is still there, it's just back at the power station, while most EV makers offer end-of-life vehicle recycling to ensure batteries and electrical parts are disposed of responsibly.

The weather can have an impact on EV range. If it's cold, the battery can't hold as much of its charge, while using a heater or air-con will cut the battery range, too. Many cars now have pre-heaters that mean you can warm or cool the cabin using the National Grid while the car is still plugged in, saving the battery energy for driving the vehicle.

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The benefits of electric drive include near-silent cruising, which can make for a very relaxed drive, as long as you're confident that you have the battery range to complete your journey, while the instant torque provided by the electric motor means that every EV has decent sprinting ability away from the traffic lights.

Are electric cars really cheap to run?

The Government Plug-In Car Grant 

buying a new EV is currently still available, but the amount of rebate has changed. You can now get up to £4,500 off an EV, but while list prices are also coming down as cost margins reduce, you'll still need to find well over £20k to buy an EV. Leasing could be a better option, while some makers, chiefly Renault and Nissan, offer separate battery lease deals that should help to lower costs.

EV makers often look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an EV in comparison with a conventional petrol or diesel car. In that way, the high initial purchase price is offset by the lower cost of recharging the battery, which will be considerably less than having to fill with fuel.

Changes to UK road tax in April 2017 mean that the only cars that now qualify for free road tax are EVs that cost less than £40,000. All other cars, including plug-in hybrids, pay at least £130 in road tax. EVs over £40,000 still have to pay a £310 premium for the first five years, but they are exempt after that, which should encourage the used market for EVs. And if you do buy an expensive new EV, at least this is still cheaper than the £450 a year you pay to drive a conventional car costing £40,000 or more.

Today, there are enough EVs on sale that we can compile a list of 10 of the best, covering all areas of the market.

Best electric cars to buy 2018

  1. 1. Nissan Leaf
  2. 2. Jaguar I-Pace
  3. 3. Volkswagen e-Golf
  4. 4. Hyundai Kona Electric
  5. 5. BMW i3
  6. 6. Tesla Model S
  7. 7. Renault ZOE
  8. 8. Volkswagen e-up!
  9. 9. Tesla Model X
  10. 10. Smart ForTwo ED

Do you own an electric car? Tell us your thoughts on it in the comments section below...

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