Last month we junked our old car and we are now a single car household. But should our (t)rusty car go the same way, I’m thinking that we’d probably go electric. But if you are like me and can think of a hundred reasons not to go electric, what can you do instead of getting an Electric Vehicle (EV)?
I’ve been thinking recently about getting an electric car for a variety of reasons. Money is one reason but also because I don’t like the impact that owning a car with an internal combustion engine (ICE) – meaning it burns petrol/diesel/hydrocarbons and emits CO2. Shifting from petrol to electric is the right thing to do, but is now the right time?
Maybe I’m getting affected by the book that I’m reading by Michal E. Mann on the climate change (the New Climate War). It’s a good read and is making me think about our own carbon footprint.
My brother has recently bought an electric car, a VW iD4 I believe. It’s a nice looking car and has all the suitable features for a family of 5 and is the workhorse of the family, chauffeuring the kids to school/classes and my brother to his job and back. He lives in a rural setting and has the sort of space required to charge it overnight.
We on the other hand live in a more urban setting and don’t have the luxury of off-street parking or anywhere dedicated for us to charge our car. But at the same time, we live within walking distance of the nursery, shops, cafés and the (home) office – so we don’t really need to drive so much. So, realistically, our next car could be electric and I’m assuming that charging points will spring up in the meantime. Getting one for ourselves on the public street might be difficult and lengthy. Getting rid of one car is a step in the right direction, but getting rid of both might be a step too far.
Critique of Electric Vehicles
The penny pincher in me doesn’t like the cost of them – and I don’t see the point in selling my 7 year old ICE car to upgrade to an electric car. Me getting an electric car is going to increase demand for electricity without increasing the supply. There’s also the embedded carbon in the car we already have to think about and the fact that a new electric car would sit idle 160+ hours a week – not a great use of resources.
Rapid decarbonisation of our energy supply is required to reach net zero and that means cleaning up our energy supply by kicking out coal from the energy mix and adding more renewables capacity. The UK has done a good job over the last few years but more is needed. A case in point is that renewables met 97.4% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2020 – a tripling over in 10 years. Sounds good right? Well, the target was 100% in 2020 and we missed that. And Scotland is a relatively country with a lot of land and wind and rain, and not many people. If it can’t be self-sufficient in renewables, what hope does somewhere like England have with almost 10 times the population. It’s not good enough!
3 Green Alternatives to the Electric Car for GFF
- Invest in an electric bike
I saw an advert for Swytchbike which easily converts your bike into an electric bike. It’ll cost a fraction of an electric car and it’ll mean I’d probably use my bike more. The cost is probably around £1000 + additional savings in better health!
I’ve invested through Abundance for a number of years and found them to be good. (I’ve written previously about them). This new project from Iduna is looking to raise £4m to help roll out EV charging to help fund Greater Manchester’s green transport revolution by installing public electric vehicle chargers. The investment is over 5 years and pays a fixed 9% a year interest. You can hold the investment in a SIPP or IFISA through Abundance.
The project just opened on Thursday and within 12 hours had raised over a million quid from investors with the average amount invested being around £1500. It’s a straight forward business to understand and the rate is attractive.
- Get rid of the car we have and rent one as required
The Lady doesn’t like this idea but since I hate cars, getting rid of the one we have and using the local car club would be an easy solution. Although with two kids, they still need their own car seats, so I don’t expect that to happen any time soon.
Supply Side Solutions
Of these three, I’m inclined to think that investing in the infrastructure is the way to go. It’s not just t he nice 9% interest (subject to risk I might add) but I believe that whilst consumer behaviour needs to change, I believe in supply-side solutions. There’s a lot of money to be sunk into new windmills, solar panels, pumped storage hydro, battery storage and EV infrastructure. Supporting a company like Iduna in their project will help speed change. Me just buying an electric car won’t make much of a difference if I don’t use it that much.
Demand Side Solutions
There’s a company where I live that runs a fleet of sleek BMW i3 electric cars to run takeaway orders from a variety of restaurants which you can order through their app. The same goes for one of taxis where I live with many of them being electric. Given electric cars cost more to buy but less to run, going electric for these companies is a no brainer.
It makes sense to prioritise electric cars for purposes that will be used the most. Taxis and takeaways will cover a lot of ground compared to a commuter’s car that might only be driven for an hour to work and an hour back.
I could probably do just as much good by walking more, shopping locally and working from home as I could by getting an electric car.
I could buy an EV as my company car and save loads on tax. It’s really popular among company directors and company car drivers. The very low BIK makes it an amazing deal and paying a few hundred a month on an electric car will save you a lot on corporation tax. And as I’ve heard said “once you realise the tax savings, you forget about “range anxiety”.
I am wary of “contractor wisdom” on how to spend company money – so, I’m not going to let the tax tail wag the investment dog just yet.
I also don’t every want to go back to the office and I don’t want to go back to a commute. And if I did have to commute, I live close enough to the railway station to commute that way instead of driving.
And taking the train is cool – just like my fashion hero Michael Portillo.
Change is Coming (Fast!)
I reckon the traditional model of car ownership has changed a lot. Before the pandemic, car ownership shifted to just leasing cars. This was helped by low interest rates and car companies desperate to shift models. Some of those deals look too good to be true! But, if you have the luxury of working from home and live within a short walk/cycle of local amenities, why does a household need to own a car (or two or three?)
The whole concept of travel & transport needs to be reimagined (and now is the best time to do it) we need more active travel and fewer vehicles on the road, fewer vehicle miles and more of those vehicles should be electric. The added bonus is that for financial independence, if you can reduce your spending on transport (I used to spend upwards of £4,000 a year just on petrol/diesel) by making simple changes, you get to keep the change. Low carbon transport makes sense not only for the planet but for your wallet (and waistline).
Unlike my brother I’m not an early adopter and I’m not getting an EV anytime soon but I’ll consider investing in the Iduna investment and maybe even the Swytch bike as a present for the Lady who hates cycling up hill.
Please note that at the time of writing I have not a shareholder in Swytchbike, Iduna, Co-Wheels or Abundance – and this is not a recommendation of their products or services.
Do your own research before staking your money and only invest as much as you are willing to lose.