As more restrictions on diesel and petrol cars come into force in city centres across the UK and the ever-present threat of global warming remains firmly in the headlines, the demand for electric cars has never been higher. If you aren’t too familiar with the range of electric vehicles (or EVs) on the market, though, you might think that the conversation begins and ends with Tesla.
While it’s true that Tesla thrust E-cars into the limelight well before any other major car manufacturer, the other big players in the automobile industry have started to emerge onto the scene with some impressive offerings. The general public seem to have taken note too, as 10% of all car registrations in the UK so far in 2020 have been for electric cars. For good reason, too; they are quiet, cheap to run, and smooth to drive. With 26,300 charging stations already built across the country, there has never been a better time to think about the best electric cars to buy and to get charged up about some of these high-voltage vehicles.
The criteria for the best electric cars on the market
When deciding which are the best electric cars, there are 5 main criteria that come into play.
- Price – Always an important factor in choosing which car is the right one, the prices of electric cars are what turned a lot of consumers away in the early days. And rightly so – some of the earliest E-cars for everyday use would set buyers back £60,000 or more. Luckily, developments in technology and increasing support (often via government subsidies) has caused prices to drop and made some of the best electric cars cheap and affordable.
- Quality – Electric vehicles are renowned for being easy to drive, silent, and packed with technology, as well as often looking chic while doing it. We’ve taken into account all of the different features that can come with modern electric cars to determine what some of the top choices are. These include things like in-car display, design quality and overall look, the quality of materials used, heated seats, built in GPS systems, Adaptive Cruise Control, smartphone connectivity, and many more.
- Suitability for everyday use – Like every vehicle considered to be somewhat of a luxury, a question mark always hangs over how practical a car will be for everyday use. It might be true that an electric car is saving the planet by not having any emissions, but if it can’t get you from A to B without losing charge or if their battery pack needs to be replaced very frequently, then they aren’t up to scratch as roadworthy everyday vehicles. This won’t be a problem for any of the cars on this list.
- Energy reserve – As mentioned above, the quality and usability of an electric car depends hugely, almost entirely in fact, on both how far it can go when fully charged and how long it takes to get to this stage. Fully recharging a battery pack with a level 1 or level 2 charger can take up to 8 hours without a fast charging station, which might not always be conveniently located. The cars in our list, therefore, are the ones guaranteed to last the longest.
- Comfort – Our final piece of criteria is how comfortable the car is. Whether a car has heated, leather seats, functioning dual or three zone climate control, smartphone connectivity, or even just a spacious cabin area can really contribute to how enjoyable it is to drive and how much time you want to spend in there. There’s nothing worse than dreading long journeys in a car because of how uncomfortable it is, so we’ve made sure you’ll love climbing into these best electric cars 2020.
The 8 best electric cars on the market
1. Nissan Leaf
The second-generation Nissan Leaf hit the UK market in 2018 and was promptly named Electric Car of the Year for 2018 by WhatCar? It was also the world’s top selling plug-in electric car in 2019 and with a range of 239 miles hitting 0-60 in just 7.1 seconds, all from around £27,000, it is easy to see why.
2. Renault Zoe
If you’re searching for one of the best electric cars for range, the Renault Zoe offers the best driving range of any EV under £30,000 with 250 miles on a full charge when driving around town. Most impressively, it offers you 90 miles of range after just 30 minutes charging at a 50 kWh charging station.
3. Kia Soul
The Soul shares a state-of-the-air powertrain with the Kia e-Niro that gives it a useful range of 280 miles and is considerably more interesting than the e-Niro with a more stylish interior and quite a unique design, as well as a 315 litre boot. You’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.
4. Fiat 500 elektro
Claimed by Fiat to be both the only all-electric convertible and ‘kind of an urban Tesla’, the Fiat 500e 2020 model comes with more luxurious features than you might expect from a compact electric car. Features include level 2 autonomous driving, 360 degree ‘drone view’, wireless Apple CarPlay, 17-inch alloy wheels, eco-leather upholstery, and a 3kW wall box.
5. Volkswagen e-up
Based on the VW Up, the king of small city cars, the e-Up offers great value for money. It easily tops 120 miles in regular urban use for just over £20,000. It’s not as attractive as the Honda e or Renault Zoe, but in terms of reasonably priced, no-frills sustainability for everyday use this is the way to go.
6. Honda e
If distinctive looks and advanced technology are your highest priority, the Honda e is definitely for you. With no wing mirrors, a stylish and futuristic interior, and headlamps that look so much like bright, sparky eyes that they seem to come alive with every charge, the Honda e is one of the most comfortable and high-quality E-cars on the market.
7. Peugot e-208
For people who aren’t too hot on the idea of electric cars, but still want to do something to reduce their emissions, the Peugot e-208 is a great choice. It looks, functions, and feels very similar to a standard 208. The 50kWh battery enables a maximum range of 217 miles on a single charge while performance is zippy too.
8. BMW i3
The BMW i3 is almost certainly the best premium EV you can buy. Travelling around town or between cities is a joy in the i3 as it is quiet, efficient, and handles well with a ton of luxury features inside the cabin. All of this doesn’t come cheap though, as it will set you back upwards of £35,000.