Important information: The value of investments and the income from them, can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

WHETHER or not to buy an electric car? It’s a question that faces many of us and one that can be difficult to answer. Even so, according to data out this week, more of us are now taking the plunge.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said yesterday September was the best ever month for sales of brand new electric vehicles (EVs). The Tesla Model 3, which costs at least £42,000, topped the sales chart and EVs accounted for 15.2% of all new car sales overall1.

On the other side of the coin, the recent queues for fossil fuels come as a stark reminder of the convenience of petrol and diesel powered vehicles. Refuelling is usually a five-minute affair that can easily produce a range of about 500 miles or so.

EV owners are not so lucky. Recharging – even at one of the UK’s 3097 rapid charging stations – takes time and can require a different type of journey planning2. Charging overnight at home negates this problem to some extent, unless you live in an upstairs flat, in which case it’s probably not feasible.

There’s another worry too. Currently, EVs make little sense from an environmental perspective if they derive their energy from coal or gas fired power stations. In effect, they simply shift greenhouse gas emissions out of the cities into the countryside.  

What’s more, owing to the energy losses incurred in generating equipment, power lines and the charging then discharging of a battery, EVs may consume fossil fuel energy from “well to wheel” no more efficiently than the average petrol engine3.

However, this week’s announcement by the Conservatives in Manchester that all of Britain’s electricity should come from renewables by 2035 suggests it may soon be possible to achieve near-zero emissions both at the point of production and point of use.

In some areas that possibility has already turned into reality. The Ionity and Instavolt networks both currently offer rapid charging powered entirely by renewables4. More will surely follow, just as the number of petrol and diesel filling stations are set to decline. Incidentally, ZapMap will show you where your nearest EV charging stations are and enable you to plan routes.

So should you now buy an EV? Unless you have a hankering for a particular petrol or diesel powered machine, the answer to that may be fast turning into a “yes”.

EVs have far fewer moving parts than their gas guzzling equivalents, so should be more reliable and easier to fix. They can cost significantly less to run – provided a battery replacement isn’t imminent – and are exempt from road tax. A proliferation of truly green sources of energy mean you could soon be caring for the planet too.

In the meantime, you can make a difference to the world by taking account of environmental issues as you invest. This is Good Money Week, part of a national campaign to help investors take decisions that are positive for people, the planet and our pockets.


1 SMMT, 05.10.21
2 Zap Map, 05.10.21
3 Comparison of the Overall Energy Efficiency for Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles and Electric Vehicles, Albatayneh, Riga University, 2020
4 Ionity and Instavolt, 06.10.21

Important information: Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to a Fidelity adviser or an authorised financial adviser of your choice.

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