Will they break the bank?

* We test four * Driving impressions * Financial realities...

1 Aug 2008 9:12 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 0:3

All four cars are pricey. There are a couple of good reasons for this, though. Almost all of the petrol and diesel cars we drive around in today are mass produced, so theyre cheaper to make. Electric cars will sport a higher price tag until the components used to power them are manufactured on a similar scale.

Not the choice of those on a budget, then? Possibly, but they can make sense, especially if youre a Londoner. The cheapest car (the G-Wiz) costs well under 10k and, because its electric, you wont have to pay a penny in Congestion Charges. Go into the charging zone on a daily basis and youll save 2000 a year compared with most petrol or diesel cars.

Yes, you could buy a second-hand Toyota Prius hybrid and enjoy the same savings for similar money, but around town that will cost you 10 pence a mile in petrol. These electric cars cost around a penny a mile to run if you charge them at home, or nothing if you use one of Londons free charging points.

You wont have to fork out for a tax disc, either, as all electric cars are exempt from vehicle excise duty. You can even enjoy free parking in Westminster and the City of London, and a discounted parking permit in many London boroughs. Other cities should follow suit with similar financial incentives, starting with Manchester.

The Micro-Vett certainly has a hefty price tag, but many people will happily fork out a lot more than that on a swanky 4x4. It seats five, barrels along at motorway speeds and covers up to 95 miles on a single charge, due to its hi-tech lithium-ion batteries.

Prices have yet to be confirmed for the Smart, as its currently available only to selected companies on contract hire. Based on those monthly rates, though, we expect to see a price of around 20k. Thats a lot for a two-seat city car, but then its considerably better than the 9k G-Wiz and 12.5k Mega City in every area.

Much of the cost of an electric car is made up by its battery pack, which can be well over 10k, so its worth considering the possibility of having to write a cheque for a new one especially given the limited battery warranty offered as standard.