My name is Jim Holder and I’ve bought an electric car.
There, I’ve said it. Standing up in front of the autocar.co.uk crowd and saying that feels fairly momentous, because our readers are notoriously divided as to the merits of such vehicles. Some love them, some hate them; please don’t rush to judge me either way.
Anyway, after some earnest shopping around, I’ve laid down a £75 deposit and will lease a Renault Zoe for the next two years.
Both the rational and emotional sides of me couldn’t be happier. Let me explain why.
The Zoe will be mostly driven by my wife, who currently owns a 2007 vintage Ford C-Max powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine. Despite covering just 100 or so miles per week, the stop-start nature of her travels (school clubs, swim teaching at various locations) means she spends £20-£30 at the pumps every seven days. Now, she will charge the Zoe once a week, at a cost of around £5 - so that’s £100 a month back in the bank.
Likewise, there will be no road tax to pay, no MOT test to cover and, because she is self-employed, there are significant tax savings. Servicing should also be £50 a year cheaper - and without, I hope, the anxious wait to find out what has worn out this time. Furthermore, selling the C-Max should also put £3500 in the bank to accrue some interest, while the ‘free’ charger that comes as part of the deal (but which costs £1000 prior to more Renault and government input) is another bonus.
The Zoe will cost the deposit, another £75 a month, plus an £80 per month battery rental fee. The fuel savings alone cover two-thirds of that, and the rest of the savings do the rest. The incentives from Renault and the government are huge at the moment, which means this may be a precarious long-term strategy, but for now it works exceptionally well for us.
So far, so very rational.
But I must also admit that we’re getting the Zoe because we like it. My wife loves its looks above those of all other electric cars and, being a swim teacher, she likes the image associated with driving a green vehicle. Being at the wheel of a talking point is no bad thing when your livelihood depends on people knowing what you do.
Meanwhile, I like the way all electric cars drive (instant step off, the calming joys of making near-silent progress) and I love the fact that the high-spec trim model we’re getting means lots of standard kit, including sat-nav, alloys and more, none of which we could afford when we bought the C-Max. That, I suppose, is also one of the joys of leasing a new car, rather than being confined to this electric experience.
I also love the fact that we are about to embark on an adventure. Neither of us really knows how it’ll go, but we’ve done our homework and it all makes sense. Yes, our circumstances happen to fit the perfect but narrow niche of money-saving opportunities that an electric car offers, but it’s also true that awareness of these benefits is prompting growth of electric car sales all over Britain.
Such is demand for Zoes at the moment (this offer, plus an equally tempting three-year promotion, plus a diesel scrappage grant in France are all impacting on availability) that our car won’t arrive until December. Before, during and after, I’m looking forward to giving an honest assessment of how we get on.