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Petrol Car vs. Electric Car: Time to Convert?

petrol vs_electric_car_02_07_12Will the car stay in its present form (powered by petrol) or will there be a majority conversion to the battery powered electric car? This article discusses that question.

Purchasing an Electric Car: Incentives and Disincentives

Fuel costs are low relative to the cost of petrol. Parking is free in a large number of areas in the UK. And in London there is no congestion charge for electric cars. Meanwhile the electric car is exempt from road tax in the UK. Savings here range from £150 to £405 a year for the electric car driver.

The reasons why someone might convert to electric include the fact that the cost of going electric may come down. This is unpredictable but the fact of the matter is that if costs do come down then this is likely to be a significant factor in the growth of electric car sales.

Recharging of the electric car battery is a disincentive to purchasing an electric car at the current time. Indeed recharging of batteries can take about three hours. The cost of this is unfortunate because cheap running costs are attainable for the electric car if the cost of the battery re-charge could be decreased. However, at present almost all of the maintenance costs concerning the electric car go towards the recharging of the battery.

Even for the most status orientated car consumer there is a good reason why he or she may reject the choice of going electric… and that reason is lack of choice concerning models. Clearly there is plenty of choice with petrol-powered cars.

The green lobby and others who are passionate about the environment want to see radical change concerning the private car. Ideally they would like to see more people driving an electric car (as opposed to petrol powered car) and greater use of public transport. The biggest disincentive to purchasing an electric car is the cost. At present the cost of an electric car in the UK is more expensive than for a similar petrol car. In Britain the lowest price for a new electric car is the Reva G-Wiz priced at between eight and nine thousands pounds.


Issues concerning safety, cost, design, the environment, are all relevant to this issue of petrol vs. electric cars. There are complications all over the place though, even on the green issue as the batteries that power the electric car can generate toxic fumes! So it is not as obvious as it might seem that the electric car is environmentally friendly. The public are (in general apathetic) about the electric car. The cost of petrol coming down often seems to be their biggest demand.

Nevertheless it is in human nature and in our western culture… to progress. Therefore this suggests that change will happen. When various factors come together… e.g. safety, low purchase cost, general very cheap running costs… then we can expect electric cars to become more prominent in society. Indeed combining technological innovation and political desire suggests that the electric car will catch up with the petrol-powered car. However there is a long way to go.

Picture credit: Shutterstock

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