David Peilow used to spend £15 to £18 a day on his 60-mile commute from Winchester to Portsmouth.
But the satellite systems engineer reckons he’s slashed £2,000 off his petrol costs in the past eight months. And it’s all down to changing his vehicle to an electric car.
Despite shelling out £34,000 on the top of the range plug-in hybrid Vauxhall Ampera, he is confident it will pay for itself over time.
David Peilow: Says he has slashed £2,000 from his fuel bill by switching from an Audi A3 to a Vauxhall Ampera
David, 35, says: ##Q##It’s a fantastic car. I used to have an Audi A3 1.8, which would have cost more than £2,400 in petrol to cover the same distance – my commute includes plenty of stop-start motorway traffic.
##Q##I’ve used around £400 in electricity and petrol, so that’s a saving of £2,000 already. And that’s before considering the free road tax and insurance – about half my previous cost.##Q##
He’s also seen an impressive average of 249.3 miles per gallon.
A Vauxhall Ampera starts at £34,995, but buyers can get a £5,000 grant towards this from the Government##Q##s plug-in scheme.
David is one of a steadily growing group of electric vehicle (EV) drivers and enthusiasts in the UK. And while many motorists have concerns about the limited mileage on a single charge (the Ampera is 25-50 miles, by comparison the 100 per cent electric Nissan Leaf is around 100 miles), hybrids have a reserve petrol tank.
NISSAN LEAF & RENAULT TWIZY
In December, This is Money compared running costs of the Renault Twizy and the Nissan Leaf.
Using a Twizy to drive 130 miles a week would cost roughly £3 per week – or £156 a year – based on three charges a week and domestic electricity at 14p/kwh unit.
It costs £2.03 to charge the Leaf from flat to full, taking eight hours. Charging it overnight is popular, as night-time energy tariffs tend to be cheaper – and it also has a much further range than both the Twizy and the Ampera.
Charging the Leaf to drive 130 miles a week would cost an average of £5 – or £260 a year.
David charges his Electron model at home overnight and also at work using standard 13 Amp sockets and the cable supplied with the car.
##Q##As my garage was already equipped with a socket there was nothing to do, although I fitted a separate meter for measuring costs,##Q## he explains.
##Q##Getting a socket at work was relatively easy and I’ve never been refused a charge when I’ve stayed at hotels or visited suppliers, etc.##Q##
Meanwhile, schemes are emerging around the UK to encourage electric car use.
One new initiative offers homeowners in London free installation of an EV charging point at their property. Homeowners can then charge a fee to EV owners to rent a space on their driveway – plus a bit extra to plug in their vehicles.
The project, which aims to install 200 charging points worth £1,500, is being run by Source London (Transport for London) and the website Parkatmyhouse.com, which lists homeowners willing to rent out private space on driveways and in garages.
Energy company SSE, the Government’s Plugged in Places initiative, and charge point manufacturer Chargemaster are also involved.
EV owners can book spaces online in advance through Parkatmyhouse rather than turning up at public charge points and hoping one will be free.
Free charging point: Andrew Crossman has recently had an EV point installed to his driveway in East London
So far around 37 charge points (which provide faster charging than standard sockets) have been installed, with 17 waiting to be installed at spaces listed on parkatmyhouse.
The charging points add to the 800 already in public places in the capital, while there are plans to roll out similar schemes elsewhere.
Seven places have been earmarked for Plugged In Places funding, and Parkatmyhouse is in talks with Source East, which covers the East of England, including Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex plus Peterborough, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton, Thurrock and Southend.
Andrew Crossman, 68, received his free charging point installation at his home in east London a few weeks ago.
He says: ##Q##In ten or 20 years electric cars will be the norm, it’s a rapidly moving technology.
I’ve thought about getting an electric car in the future, so this scheme is great. It should also be useful for other motorists who own an electric vehicle and need somewhere to park.##Q##
Andrew has been a parkatmyhouse member for about four years and rents spaces at £7 a day for a minimum of a week. Some of his customers work at nearby Whips Cross Hospital, while others use his garage for storing vehicles.
He doesn’t plan to charge extra to use the EV point but believes it will make his parking spaces more attractive to parkatmyhouse users.
Meanwhile, British Gas runs a scheme for installing EV charging circuits in homes for £375 and offers faster charging units. It’s also teamed up with POLAR – a division of Chargemaster – to install points for free in certain parts of the country. Plus it offers an off-peak saver tariff designed for EV users to charge cars at a cheaper rate, giving 20 hours of off-peak rate per day.
Slashed costs: David Foley drives 55 miles each way in his Ampera
David Foley, 43, works as an in-house solicitor for British Gas, and recently became an electric car convert. He says he chose an Ampera as his company car last July without even seeing one ‘in the flesh’ because of the potential financial savings.
##Q##I drive 55 miles each way from my home near Oxford to work in Staines,##Q## says David, who also uses the car for short journeys at weekends, including transporting his children.
##Q##I used to drive a Mercedes that cost £100 a week in fuel, now I spend about £25-£30 a week. I charge the car up at work and home. I haven’t noticed any change in my electricity bill – but my petrol bill has disintegrated.##Q##