More than 900 free public charging points are now sited in Scotland
More than 900 free public charging points are now sited in Scotland

Now is the time to spark an interest in electric vehicles

Scots who ditching their petrol or diesel car in favour of an electric alternative could make them significant savings with the help of Government incentives.

According to experts, the cost of owning an electric vehicle (EV) even without this support is set to come in line with that of traditional fuel-driven cars by 2025.

By purchasing an EV now drivers can take advantage of both the incentives and very low running costs, and enjoy the near-silent power and extended ranges of the latest models.

More than 900 free public charging points are now sited in Scotland

Joe Fergusson, microgeneration consultant at Bell Ingram, is a specialist in the sector and has developed a methodology for auditing the use of vehicles of all kinds, from quad bikes and cars to delivery vehicles, thereby illustrating the feasibility of substituting EVs.

He said: ‘The time is right for those whose vehicle use patterns match certain criteria relating to daily mileage and payload requirements to join the electric revolution.

‘It’s projected that the total cost of ownership of new EVs will match those of equivalent internal combustion engine vehicles by about 2025. By then the financial incentives offered now should no longer be required.

‘At the moment grants to dealers of £4,500 (£2,500 for hybrid EVs) for the growing list of eligible vehicles and, in Scotland, interest-free loans to purchasers, plus subsidised electricity at most public charge points in Scotland and grant-assisted charge point installation, will bridge the gap for many.’

Joe Fergusson, microgeneration consultant at Bell Ingram

At the end of 2017 Scotland had over 900 public, free-to-use charging bays, although over 95% of all charging is reported to take place at home overnight.

Around £80m was recently allocated to support the expansion of the UK’s charge point infrastructure, with £7.8m offered to businesses to get chargers installed in their car parks, depots, farmyards and homes.

By making the switch to EVs drivers can massively reduce their running costs, to around 3-5p compared to 10-20p per mile, as well as providing cheaper servicing, protection from future air-quality-related tolls, tax incentives on purchase and benefits-in-kind and zero road tax. Owning an EV will also reduce poisonous emissions in built-up areas and your carbon footprint.

However, alongside the benefits of battery-fuelled vehicles Joe believes that there are some concerns about the demands on the National Grid.

A growing number of Scots are going for electric cars

He said: ‘There are fears about the National Grid not being able to cope with charging demand as EV numbers rise. However these are probably unfounded and in time the combined battery capacity of the nation’s fleet of EVs will become an integral and crucial part of the power grid.

‘The daily consumption of most EVs will be between 4 to 20kWh whilst having about 50kWh of battery capacity, so with plenty to spare to top up the grid through short bursts of peak demand. A premium tariff will be paid to EV owners for providing this facility.

‘Some electricity suppliers are now also offering special lower supply tariffs to users of EVs. Other technologies such as hydrogen-fuelled fuel cell vehicles and wireless charging will tweak the landscape over time but anyone buying a current-model EV should not be disappointed.’