Get ready for the

real electric charge

Vauxhall Corsa-e
Peugeot e-208, 2019, front, action
 Nissan Leaf, front action
Skoda Citigo iV, 2019, rear
MINI Electric
Kia Soul EV
Honda E, 2019, front
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense
Volvo XC40 Recharge charging
Volkswagen ID.3, front
Mercedes-Benz EQC
Porsche Taycan 4S

IT should come as no shock.

Given the demonisation of the internal combustion engine and, in particular, those dirty, damnable diesels, it's hardly surprising that the long-awaited switch to electric cars appears to have begun in earnest.

The last year of the decade will go down in automotive history as the year when electric motoring finally took off.

Or, at least, that's what the proponents of greener travel would have you think.

In truth, the battery-powered revolution is still in its infancy and sales of pure electric and hybrid electric cars in 2019 were a drop in the energy-saving ocean compared with those of conventionally-powered models.

Statements issued by industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, big-up the increase in sales of battery-powered cars, but the figures only serve to prove that the electric revolution is still only on trickle charge.

Up until the end of November, cars with one form or another of electric power accounted for a mere 9.6 per cent of the total number of new cars registered during the year - a total of 207,961 cars.

And although that's a 3.2 per cent increase on the same period in 2018, petrol and diesel cars remain the number one choice for the vast majority of car buyers.

Sales of battery electric vehicles may have increased by a stonking 135.6 per cent, but that adds up to less than 33,000 cars while more than 175,000 hybrid models hit the roads up to the end of November.

Clearly then, British motorists are not yet prepared to put all their amps in the pure-electric basket.

And, interestingly, the biggest percentage gain in sales of alternatively-fuelled cars was registered by diesel-powered models with mild hybrid electrical systems. Almost 29,000 of them were sold - a year-on-year increase of some 792.6 per cent.

The growth in electric and hybrid car sales over the last 12 months has been fuelled by a plethora of new models from all the major manufacturers. Some 19 pure battery-powered models have been launched - many of them with the latest, higher-powered battery packs which offer a more usable single charge range of over 250 miles.

But several issues remain, not least of which is cost.

Although prices of pure EVs now start from around £18,000 with a leased battery it will cost you a significant amount more to make an outright purchase with the battery included. In general, electric versions of mainstream models can cost at least £5,000 more than their conventionally-powered equivalents - even after the Government's £3,500 subsidy is taken off the full retail price.

The fact that the subsidy, which was designed to boost sales of alternatively-fuelled cars, was slashed by £1,000 last year - and the grant for plug-in hybrids cut entirely - can't have helped matters either.

And, although, the public charging network is growing, the fear of running out of battery power in remote locations remains a significant factor for many motorists.

But there are positives which could well see a real boost in EV sales as we enter a new decade.

According to automotive data experts cap hpi, electric vehicles hold their value significantly better than petrol and diesel models - to the extent that buyers who invest in an EV now could even make a profit if they sell it after a year.

Cap hpi also says that average service and maintenance costs of EVs are some 23 per cent lower than for petrol vehicles over three years and 60,000 miles. Another bonus.

And there will, of course, be a string of new all-electric models in the showrooms, boasting increasingly sophisticated levels of elec-trickery, lower prices and longer ranges.

The early part of 2020 will see the arrival of a battery of affordable mainstream EV newcomers at the lower end of the market with prices from under £20,000 to £25,000 for entry level, low-spec models. They include electric versions of the Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208, Volkswagen up!, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii.

For buyers working with bigger budgets the latest Kia Soul, the new Honda e, DS3 e-Tense and the MINI Electric will go on sale priced from closer to £30,000.

But the most significant newcomer of 2020 is likely to be Volkswagen's ID3, a Golf-sized hatchback and the first model to carry VW's electric-only ID badge. It's expected to arrive in the summer with prices starting from a little over £30,000.

There will be new mid-range battery-powered SUVs from the likes of Peugeot, Vauxhall, Volvo and Ford while 2020 will see plenty of electric action from the prestige and sporting brands including Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Polestar and Porsche.

Given the number of newcomers arriving in already fiercely competitive sectors of the market, some industry pundits reckon that manufacturers will come under increasing pressure to price their electric vehicles closer to their traditionally fuelled counterparts with the probability of what experts at monitoring company Mycarcheck call "significant incentives" being offered to potential buyers of alternatively fuelled vehicles.

Indeed, the first signs of that are already apparent with Nissan having cut the price of all versions of the Leaf - the nation's top-selling all-electric vehicle - by £1,650 ahead of the arrival of all those new competitors.

The last twelve months might have kick-started the electric revolution, but 2020 will undoubtedly be the year when EV sales move into overdrive.

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