Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf may be kind to the environment and have low refuelling costs, but they're still more expensive than their fossil-fuelled counterparts in the long run, says a new study.
The total cost of ownership for a Nissan Leaf is a whopping £5,000 greater than an equivalent VW Golf BlueMotion 1.6 TDI over three years and 36,000 miles -- even when you take the government's plug-in car grant into consideration, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association's Business Guide to Electric Vehicles (PDF link).
The figures, calculated to estimate running costs of the vehicles if used as company cars, claim the Leaf's total cost of ownership over three years is £23,848, taking into account depreciation, interest charged on the capital cost of the vehicle, insurance, maintenance and fuel cost.
The Golf's total cost of ownership, when taking the same factors into account, is calculated to be £18,770. Nissan often compares the Leaf to the BlueMotion, which is a similar size and has low carbon emissions.
The major contributor to the Leaf's total running costs are its high initial purchase price and its depreciation. It manages to claw back some ground based on its far lower refuelling costs -- 2 pence per mile versus the Golf's 11.9p per mile -- but most things considered, it's the diesel that wins out in the end.
Unsurprisingly, sales of the Leaf and electric cars in general are relatively low in this country. Just 812 buyers have taken the government's £5,000 plug-in-car grant so far in 2011, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The previous government had expected to supply a "minimum of 46,000 grants" -- a figure that was slashed to 8,600 by those in power today.
"More than a dozen new electric and hybrid vehicles are set to hit the UK market over the next year, but most of them will be decorating showrooms unless manufacturers are more realistic on pricing," said BVRLA chief executive John Lewis.
"Ultra-low carbon transport is a necessity and electric vehicles have a big part to play in getting us there, but these vehicles are simply too expensive for most fleets at the moment."
- Don't forget to check out our Nissan Leaf diary to get an idea of what it's like living with an electric car.