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Everything you need to know if you are considering an EV as a company car

As more and more people make the switch to EVs as private buyers, the company car community is gradually catching up. Low running costs, tax breaks and ever-improving infrastructure are all tempting people away from the traditional petrol and diesel battlegrounds, but what should you know before making the switch to an electric company car?

Last year we looked at the best options for PHEV company cars. Now, more than 12 months down the line, EVs are becoming an increasingly attractive option. There has been a range of developments across the cars themselves, the supporting infrastructure, and financial incentives that have aligned to make EVs more viable.

Financial benefits

Perhaps the key consideration for company car drivers (and fleet operators) who are looking to make the switch to EVs is the financial liability that they will face. For years, company car tax rates have favoured low-emissions vehicles which initially covered CO2 – hence the diesel domination starting in the early 2000s – but from April 2018 also took into account NOx – which saw favour tip back towards petrol.

Company car tax is calculated based on the a percentage of the car's P11D value (purchase price of the car minus non-taxable costs) and emissions. A common drawback of company cars has been the personal tax liability that they create for the user by way of 'Benefit in Kind' (BiK) which is a variable rate tax that must be paid to reflect the cash value of the perk that the employee is receiving. If this doesn't make financial sense, they might just use their own car and claim mileage.

This isn't good for companies that want to provide cars as a perk, as they miss out on a variety of tax reliefs and deductibles, as well as things like branding opportunities or – if withdrawing the company car option altogether – the simple ability to attract new employees.

It's here where EVs begin to make sense because as was confirmed in the recent budget, zero emissions car users will pay no BiK for the financial year 2020/21 – including EVs registered before April 6 this year. Rather than trying to explain all of the changes to Benefit in Kind, which have been set out until 2025, below is a table showing the new rates.

Company car benefit-in-kind tax rates for cars first registered from April 6, 2020

% of P11D price

2020/21 CO2 g/km/(electric mileage range)

2021/22 CO2 g/km/(electric mileage) range

2022/23 to 2024/25 CO2 g/km/(electric mileage range)

0

0-50 (up to 130 miles)

N/A

N/A

1

N/A

0-50 (up to 130 miles)

N/A

2

N/A

N/A

0-50 (up to 130 miles)

3

1-50 (70-129 miles)

N/A

N/A

4

N/A

1-50 (70-129 miles)

N/A

5

N/A

N/A

1-50 (70-129 miles)

6

1-50 (40-69 miles)

N/A

N/A

7

N/A

1-50 (40-69 miles)

N/A

8

N/A

N/A

1-50 (40-69 miles)

10

1-50 (30-39 miles)

N/A

N/A

11

N/A

1-50 (30-39 miles)

N/A

12

1-50 (under 30 miles)

N/A

1-50 (30-39 miles)

13

51-54

1-50 (under 30 miles)

N/A

14

55-59

51-54

1-50 (under 30 miles)

15

60-64

55-59

51-54

16

65-69

60-64

55-59

17

70-74

65-69

60-64

18

75-79

70-74

65-69

19

80-84

75-79

70-74

20

85-89

80-84

75-79

21

90-94

85-89

80-84

22

95-99

90-94

85-89

23

100-104

95-99

90-94

24

105-109

100-104

95-99

25

110-114

105-109

100-104

26

115-119

110-114

105-109

27

120-124

115-119

110-114

28

125-129

120-124

115-119

29

130-134

125-129

120-124

30

135-139

130-134

125-129

31

140-144

135-139

130-134

32

145-149

140-144

135-139

33

150-154

145-149

140-144

34

155-159

150-154

145-149

35

160-164

155-159

150-154

36

165-169

160-164

155-159

37

170+

165+

160+

 

Comparing petrol vs. EV

There are myriad tools out there which can help you understand just how much money you could save by going EV when considering your next company car. Go Ultra Low, for example, has a comparison calculator which you can find here.

By way of a simple example, a Nissan LEAF e+ Tekna with a 62kWh battery offering 239 miles of range would cost precisely nothing per month until the next financial year. Then it would cost £6.56 per month – which is a very small amount of money. It would also be able to drive into low emissions zones and congestion charge zones free of cha

rge. And it'd cost somewhere in the region of £9 to charge at home on a regular energy tarrif.

A similarly sized and priced BMW 3 Series with a petrol engine would cost £218.57 per month, which would go up to £225.19 in 2021/22. Plus it wouldn't be able to drive into low emissions or congestion zones for free, and a tank of petrol is going to be on the nasty side of £60.

The other thing to bear in mind is ease of EV maintenance. Because they don't have metal parts thrashing around turning hydrocarbons into heat, noise and – somewhere down the chain – forward movement, you don't have to check the oil, and a turbo isn't going to let go on the slip road of junction 15 on the M1. They're actually devilishly simple and most servicing tends to be ensuring the wipers wipe, bulbs shine and the software is the latest version.

Considerations around charging

Perhaps the biggest consideration beyond the financial side of things is how an EV can fit around your working and driving commitments. Range is the most obvious one, but with typical ranges of cars that might be found on a company car scheme well over the 200 mile mark, even at the comparatively cheaper end of the spectrum, there's a lot of choice to satisfy most people's driving commitments.

Charging is the next thing that you'll need to take into account. If your workplace doesn't have a charger, the government will offer tax breaks to companies that do, so it's worth having that conversation. Employers that offer EV charging are certainly going to find themselves on the front foot compared to those that don't in the coming years.

Home charging is the next issue you will need to consider. The government offers grants for installing a home charging point up to a maximum of £500, so even a top-notch wall box won't set you back a fortune on top of that. Furthermore, many companies will assist employees in the cost of installation if they are utilising a company-provided EV, plus charging at home is typically much cheaper than using public chargers. Given that charge points increase the value of houses according to some reports, that's yet another reason to pursue it. Just be aware that the cost of charging at home isn't covered by any tax breaks.

Luckily for EV drivers, the public charging network in the UK is big, growing, and thanks to a pledge in the recent budget, will accelerate in both the number and speed of chargers coming online. The aim in the next five years is for nobody to be more than 30 miles from a fast charger. To assess whether your local area meets your charging needs, or simply to locate a charger on the go, Zap Map is your friend.

Is it for you?

Even in these days of EVs being genuinely viable for most people's everyday needs, they still aren't for everyone. However, given the financial benefits, potential convenience of charging and – at a base level – the contribution to cleaning up the environment, now, more than ever, EVs make a potentially fantastic choice for company car drivers.

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