With the British ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles less than a decade away, many drivers are looking to switch to an electric car. According to regulator Ofgem, one in four of us plans to buy an electric vehicle (EV) within the next five years.
As consumer demand rises, the number of affordable electric cars on the market is picking up pace. Increased range (the distance an electric car can travel between charges) and improvements in charging infrastructure are also easing ‘range anxiety,’ which has long been a barrier to people making the switch.
For families, the best electric vehicles now offer all the practicality and space of traditional petrol or diesel cars, while creating zero exhaust emissions and the potential for very low day-to-day running costs.
To keep the buying cost down, look for a car that qualifies for the government ‘plug-in grant.’ This offers a discount of up to 35 per cent off the sale price of a new EV (up to £2,500). Electric cars must have a range of more than 70 miles, emit less than 50g/km, and cost less than £35,000.
Here’s our top 7 family EVs for 2021:
Price: from £32,785
Range: up to 333 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? Yes (the entry level version)
The Skoda Enyaq iV offers plenty of space for the whole family and a competitive range between charges that doesn’t require you to bank with Coutts to be able to afford it.
Skoda’s first bespoke electric car is available with two battery sizes, the Enyaq iV 60 and the Enyaq iV 80. The former features a 58kWh battery with a range of up to 256 miles, while the latter offers 77kWh which will take you up to 333 miles.
The Enyaq iV is comfortable and packed with clever features such as an app that allows you to remotely monitor the charge level in the battery, and a cleaning tool for the charging cable so you don’t get mucky hands.
2. Kia e-Niro
Price: from £29,595
Range: up to 282 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? Yes (on the 39kWh or lower spec 64Wh versions)
The Kia e-Niro offers an impressive range-to-price ratio, whether you choose the 39kWh or 64kWh battery option (which give you 180 and 282 miles respectively). It is also light years ahead of its rivals on efficiency, making it relatively low-cost to run. It’s comfortable and quiet with a smart black interior and leather seats. As an SUV it has plenty of space for the family and their luggage, too.
If you plan to keep your car for a long time, Kia’s warranty covering seven years and 100,000 miles is one of the best on the market. If you’re not keen on standing out, the e-Niro doesn’t look too different to a standard car so flies under the radar perfectly.
Price: from £28,670
Range: up to 336 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? Yes (in the most basic Life trim, with the smaller 58kWh battery)
Volkswagen has pulled out all the stops to make sure its first bespoke electric car – the ID.3 – appeals to as many buyers as possible. It comes with a choice of three battery sizes. The smallest has a claimed range of 217 miles, while the largest takes that up to an impressive 336 miles.
The ID.3 replaced the e-Golf as VW’s family-sized choice for those with a green conscience. It’s so important to the brand that the 3 in its name represents its place as the manufacturer’s third major launch of all time, after the iconic Beetle and the ever-popular VW Golf.
Price: from £40,490
Range: up to 353 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? No
It’s no surprise that the Tesla Model 3 has won over thousands of buyers across the world. With up to 353 miles available on a single charge, and access to Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network, the Model 3 is a very tempting option for families who clock up high yearly mileage or do a lot of long journeys.
Tesla has the advantage of only building all-electric vehicles, and understands how to free up huge amounts of valuable space inside by tucking batteries and motors out of the way. Add in a low leasing cost and the Model 3 suddenly becomes an affordable and practical route into EV ownership. Oh, and you might be interested to know the Performance model will do 0-62mph in less than four seconds.
5. Citroen e-C4
Range: up to 217 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? Yes (all versions)
Aside from a few minor trim differences, the e-C4 looks identical to the regular C4 – making it ideal for those looking to move to electric without making a song and dance about it. The e-C4 offers just as much passenger and boot space as the regular C4, so there’s no practical compromise for going electric. Its 50kWh capacity means the e-C4 can manage up to 217 miles on a single charge.
Lots of storage cubbies show Citroen’s desire for the e-C4 to fit into family life, and there’s even a tablet holder for the front passenger.
6. Nissan Leaf
Price: from £29,790
Range: up to 239 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? Yes (standard version)
First introduced in 2010, the Nissan Leaf is a trailblazer in the electric cars market and still the biggest selling pure-EV.
It’s no wonder that it’s a popular choice – it’s easy to drive and comfortable, and has a decent range that makes it appealing to a wide range of buyers. Given how much it costs, there’s an impressive amount of tech on offer, too, and it has enough space for all the family. The standard Leaf offers a range of up to 168 miles while the premium e+ version will take you up to 239 miles.
Nissan is also busily installing more high-power DC chargers – it already has twice as many across Europe as Tesla has Superchargers. But then with shorter range than a Tesla you need visit them more often in a journey.
Price: from £64,625
Range: up to 292 miles
Does it qualify for the plug-in grant? No
One for those with deeper pockets, the I-Pace has the space, grace and pace (Jaguar’s three hallmarks) of any car in the company’s range. There’s a good amount of interior space for its size, and it looks and feels luxurious. Performance is of course important in a Jaguar and the I-Pace has impressive acceleration, yet will achieve a range of 292 miles on a full charge.
It is expensive when compared to its competitors though.