Are electric cars money savers?

The Nissan's zero-emission electric car, the Leaf, is due to hit UK forecourts early next year - but lower emissions doesn't necessarily mean lower costs just yet
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Electric car fans can’t stop talking about the Nissan Leaf, which goes on sale next year and is billed by its maker as the world’s 'first mass-produced zero-emission car'.

Like most electric cars, the Leaf will cost considerably more than its petrol equivalent - the five-door version will set you back £28,350 when it hits forecourts in February. The AA says the running costs will be around 2p per mile, or as much as 4p per mile if charging at peak electricity rates. But that compares to fuel costs of 11.5p per mile for a similar sized diesel car, or 13.5p for a petrol vehicle.

Electric cars are also exempt from the congestion charge and road tax, and from next year, the Government is offering buyers a subsidy worth up to £5000 off the cost of any electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell cars, until March 2012.

But do electric vehicles offer good value for money for everyone? Not yet, says the AA. "The technology is completely different to what we’re used to," reports the AA’s technical specialist Vanessa Guyll. "We don’t yet know how far these vehicles will be travelling, or whether batteries will be sold or leased."

“There’s also some debate about how car valuation experts will value electric cars, since we don’t know about battery life yet."

Those issues, plus their hefty price tags, means electric vehicles are "not yet a money-saving choice", Guyll adds. "But that could change as more enter the market, and the technology develops."

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