Electric cars are already cheaper to own and use than alternatives to gasoline or diesel in five European countries analyzed in a new research.

The study examined the purchase, fuel and tax costs of Europe's best-selling car, the VW Golf, in its electric, hybrid, petrol and diesel versions. Over four years, the 100% electric version was the cheapest in all locations – UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Norway – due to a combination of lower taxes, fuel costs and subsidies on the purchase price.

Researchers at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said their report showed that tax breaks were a critical means of promoting the deployment of electric vehicles and combating climate change and air pollution.

Carbon emissions from transport contribute significantly to global warming, but have increased in recent years in the European Union. Vehicles are also a major source of air pollution, which causes 500 000 early deaths per year in the EU.

Electric cars offer the largest savings compared to diesel in Norway (27%), as battery-powered vehicles are exempt from a large registration tax. The ICCT's analysis has been updated for the Guardian after recent cuts in UK subsidies for the purchase of electric cars. This shows that British motorists see the smallest economy: 5%. In Germany, France and the Netherlands, the economy has varied from 11% to 15%.

cost in four years VW golf in Europe

Sandra Wappelhorst, ICCT, said: "Most trips are in the range of an electric vehicle, and the battery-powered electric vehicle is the most economical over four years. But if you're a field doctor, who may have to answer emergency calls indefinitely, you'll need to evaluate a battery-powered electric car differently from a London surgeon. "

Wappelhorst said that financial incentives for electric cars would not be needed when buying prices would fall to those of fossil fuel-powered cars, which is likely between 2025 and 2030. "That will happen because the costs of the battery fall and that means that the initial price of the vehicles will also fall, "she added.

Cost is not the only factor, said Wappelhorst. Although owners of electric cars can also benefit from reduced parking fees and road tolls, they must be sure that charging points are sufficient. Regulation is also needed to push car manufacturers to low-emission vehicles, she said.

The analysis showed that plug-in hybrid vehicles were often the most expensive to drive over four years, in part because of the higher purchase of vehicles with two engines.

James Tate, of the University of Leeds, and his colleagues published a study in December 2017 on the costs of automobiles in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. He focused on depreciation and fuel costs and also revealed that electric cars are the cheapest: electricity is much cheaper than gasoline or diesel.

Tate said the UK government could do more to boost the growth of electric cars. "My point of view is that the UK should do much more to divert the market from the most polluting and inefficient cars, SUVs / SUVs, whose sales continue to grow," he said. "These big heavy vehicles weigh heavily on us and the climate in CO2 and atmospheric pollutants useless. A tax policy that increases with fuel consumption rates, as in the Netherlands and Norway, is behind schedule. "

UK taxation is increasing with emissions from company cars, but not private cars.

In 2018, sales of new electric cars in the United Kingdom increased by 21%, reaching a market share of 6%. In contrast, sales of diesel cars fell by 30%, although this still represents a market share of 32%.

Tate said automakers, still in shock from the diesel emissions scandal, were struggling to keep up. "The demand for electric vehicles is reducing supply. Manufacturers are increasing their production and developing new models, but have been surprised by the rapid evolution of the market. "

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The UK government's enthusiasm for electric cars is clear, but it needs to ensure that its policies are clear and consistent so that private buyers and fleets can make purchasing decisions that are not undermined by policy changes. down the road. "