Before April 2017, all cars emitting less than 99g/km were free from road tax. But the government changed the rules, meaning that to beat the VED taxman, you now need to go electric only in order to buy a tax-exempt car. Here are 10 of the most useful ways to buy a new car and avoid paying the dreaded Vehicle Excise Duty.
10. Renault Kangoo EV
It’s not especially sexy, but the Kangoo EV is ideal as tax-free utilitarian family transport. As well as capacious seating for five, the Kangoo beats most electric cars in terms of luggage space. The five-seater crew van is available for less than £20,000 providing you sign up for a £60 a month battery leasing arrangement. There are few electric cars as practical or affordable.
9. Volkswagen e-Up
The e-Up, not to be mistaken for a Yorkshire greeting, is the ideal car for city dwellers, with a 93-mile range and a 60Kw battery pack. It’s simplicity itself to drive, just select drive on the gearbox and point and go. It’s pretty nippy, too. At £20,730 it isn’t cheap for such a small car, but the savings on road tax and fuel will work for those who never need to venture too far.
8. Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The Ioniq is the closest you’ll get to a conventional family car, larger in size than a Golf or and Astra, and with decent back seats. That makes it ideal for private hire operators in busy urban areas, as it also has a 174 mile rnage, a five-year warranty and five years servicing included in the £24,995 asking price. It also has Android Auto and touchscreen technology.
7. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
At £16,420, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive undercuts the Volkswagen e-Up, so if two seats and limited luggage space are all you’re likely to need it’s a good option, especially for urban dwellers who have access to a charging point. The electric range is limited to 99 miles, but it can be fast charged. If you never venture too far from home, it’s an affordable tax-exempt option.
6. BMW i3
The BMW i3 isn’t cheap at £33,540, especially given that it’s only a small car, but the box-like design does make it more spacious than most cars of the same ilk. It also benefits from typically BMW-like driving dynamics – great steering, agile handling and exceptional build quality. The 124-mile range beats most electric city cars, but it still compromises it on a long run. Have one of these to use during the week, and an M3 for the weekend if you have the cash…
5. Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive
The £33,000 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is a key rival to the i3, but is more conventional and arguably more practical, with a similar range. It does need a full nine hours to achieve a full charge though, meaning you really need to be able to park it overnight near a charging point if you’re planning to use it everyday. The Mercedes ‘sandwich-floor’ design means the battery pack doesn’t intrude on passenger space. Only a limited number have been imported as a trial in the UK, so availability is limited.
4. Nissan LEAF
The original and, some say, still the best, the first generation LEAF is about to be replaced. That means there are bargains to be had. Also, with Nissan being a pioneer of electric drivetrains, reliability is proven and range is impressive – expect 155 miles form a full charge, and fast charging is an option. The list price with OLEV grant is £25,790, but with the new model on the horizon you should get a healthy discount.
3. Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is the nadir of electric car ownership. Fast, sleek, stylish and terrific to drive, it also has an impressive range of up to 393 miles, putting it on a par with many conventionally fuelled cars. Charge it overnight a couple of times a week and it’ll be just as useable and practical as most family saloons. It would be our outright winner, were it not for the fact that you need at least £80k to buy one – and that makes the road tax exemption something of a secondary concern.
2. Ford Focus Electric
The £24,995 Focus Electric is only imported in limited numbers, but it’s a worthwhile package – it has a range of 145 miles and can be fast charged to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes, making it ideal for moderate fleet use. Performance is equivalent to a Focus 1.6 petrol, making it an ideal daily car providing you don’t need to do any major journeys.
1. Volkswagen e-Golf
Of all the electric cars on the market at the moment, the e-Golf is perhaps the most convincing. Its range of 186 miles is suitable for most journeys of up to two hours and it can be fast charged in 30 minutes – stop at a service station and you can plug it in while you take a recommended break from the motorway. In all other respects, it’s just like a Golf – refined, understated, solid and subtly upmarket. A great car, and the best electric and tax-exempt car on sale today.
The car tax rules changed in 2017, here’s all you need to know
If you need to know more on the laws of car tax and car tax bands, you can find that here