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Electric cars: to buy or not to buy?

Written by Olivier De Moor

Electrical cars have been driving around on our Belgian roads for about two decades now. In 2019, however, they only represented 0,2% of all Belgian passenger cars on our roads. Having worked at the Brussels Motor Show for two consecutive years, where I presented electric cars, I was often faced with a significant degree of scepticism towards this way of driving. Which led me to ask: Why do so many people apprehend the electric way of driving? And is their reluctance well-founded?

The main concern of the Belgian public is the price tag of electric cars. People still maintain the belief that the electric car is too expensive. However, when people decide to buy a car, they seem to focus only on the purchasing price of their car while neglecting to account for the costs of fuel, maintenance and taxes.

According to an article of “De Tijd”, charging an electric car can be up to 80% less expensive than fuelling a diesel car. Driving 100 kilometres with an EV (electric vehicle), will cost you between 3 and 4.5€. That is if you have the possibility of charging at home and enjoy a more advantageous price for electricity at night. If you want to drive the same 100 km with a diesel car, taking into account a consumption of 6l per 100 km, you will pay 9.78 euro. If you are able to charge your EV at work it would cost even less, approximately 2€ for a 100 km, because of significant electricity price reductions companies enjoy.

Then, if we base ourselves on the average lifetime of Belgian passenger cars (9 years), the average number of kilometres a Belgian car drives per year (14770 km in 2017) and the prices of electricity and fuel mentioned earlier, we can conclude that up to more than 1100€ per year or 9900€ over the car’s lifetime can be saved.

Next, if we look at maintenance costs and taxes, we see that owners of an EV can also save a significant amount of money. The maintenance of electric cars is significantly cheaper, saving you, on average, 186€ on a yearly basis. This represents a total of 1670€ over the car’s lifetime. Looking at the tax level, we see that driving electric is incentivised by the government trough multiple tax cuts. Electric cars are 100% tax-deductible for Belgian companies and independents. Additionally, Employees pay significantly less taxes on the advantage of all kinds. The entry tax costs considerably less at 0, 61.5 and 61.5 euro respectively for the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels region. The same goes for the yearly traffic tax which costs 0, 83.56, 83.56 euro respectively for the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels region.

Finally, let’s look at the range of electric cars. It has steadily increased in the last decade which makes everyday commuting possible. In 2017 a Belgian car drove on average 40km a day which is perfectly possible with an EV without having to fear an empty battery.

For long-distance travelling, we see that there are multiple solutions to comfortably get to your destination. Multiple leasing and car companies offer a rent-free car to their clients driving an EV during 1 to2 weeks per year. Also, the combination of the rapid development of fast-charging networks and the ever-shortening charging times allows the electric car to be a perfectly viable option for long-distance travels.

Today, Belgium only has approximately 3000 public charging stations. However, you can’t ignore the fact that in the future our country will have considerably more charging stations. If you buy a car today you will probably be driving it for the coming 7 to 8 years, so you will be able to enjoy the ever-growing charger network.

Our advice? Do some math before buying your next car because you might just end up with an electric car.


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