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Electric vehicles could see ownership periods double between changes

The issue of residual values of electric vehicles could be a headache for dealers and a painful expense for owners while the niche market becomes established.

Cenex, the Quango responsible for promoting low carbon and fuel cell technologies, admits calculating what an electric vehicle (EV) will be worth after it’s been in use for a while is a “huge challenge”.

At CAP, commercial vehicle senior editor John Watts fears the picture for residuals could be even worse.

If there is a 30% drop in battery costs over the next three years, which is possible if technology advances as quickly as it has over the past three years, then an EV could be obsolete in three years, he warns.

In addition, Watts points out that an electric van is predicted to fall in value at a rate that is three times quicker than a diesel-equivalent.

It could mean that early adopters of EVs will have a worthless trade-in when they subsequently want to change their vehicle, unless they’ve leased it or bought on a finance plan with a guaranteed future value.

Another answer, delegates at the recent Fleet Van conference were told, may be to run EVs for a longer life – say seven years – at which point the financial case becomes somewhat more attractive.

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