Hit the road in the latest electric cars on the market

Fancy saving money and the planet? Formula E presenter Nicki Shields explains why electric cars have finally become a serious option

As the face of Channel 5’s FIA Formula E Championship, TV presenter Nicki Shields is a woman who’s passionate about cars. Holding her own International Category B racing driver licence, Shields was the first female journalist to drive the Formula E race car. And, as an electric car owner herself, is on a mission to convert the masses to the wonders of electric cars.

‘I got into cars when I was young,’ she says. ‘My dad was a petrol head and we spent loads of time watching motor racing and going to track days. My route into the industry came via Formula E (electric Formula 1) because the environment has always interested me. I studied biological and zoological sciences at university.’

Shields admits there have been huge developments in electric cars since she first started reporting on them five years ago, when they were slow and difficult to charge. ‘Today, having one is a no-brainer,’ she says. ‘They’re cheaper to run and maintain and they’re better for the environment. They’re also fun to drive because they boast instant acceleration, so you can go very fast very quickly. Whereas it normally takes a few seconds for gas to move from the tank to a regular engine, with an electric car, it’s immediate.’

So, why are we still so hesitant? ‘We’re creatures of habit,’ says Shields. ‘People also suffer from “range anxiety” – worrying about getting from A to B with enough charge or where they’ll charge up en route – but the range is incredible now. You can go for 
250 miles at a time and once you’ve adapted, it’s easy.’

It’s not just the cars that are changing, either. ‘The automotive industry, specifically the racing and motorsports side, tends to be seen as male-dominated because front-facing roles like racing drivers and team principles are mostly men. But behind the scenes are plenty of awesome women. I’m definitely noticing more females in the industry, 
and research shows it’s women making decisions on 80 per cent of car purchases in households across the country – that’s an exciting thing.’

 

Charged up


If you’re after a more eco-friendly ride, Nicki Shields picks the best one for you

Best electric cars for… city driving

BMW i3 (from £31,680, including government grant*)
‘This luxurious four-seater feels really spacious and is perfect for city driving under 30mph. It uses sustainable materials inside, too – the dashboard is made from reclaimed wood.’

Best electric cars for… luxury

Jaguar I-Pace (from £60,995, including government grant)
‘If you’re looking for a high-end electric SUV, this has a driving range of 292 miles, and all of the fixtures and fittings you’d expect from a Jag (and the price tag, too – sorry!).’

Best electric cars for… value

Nissan Leaf e+ 3.Zero (from £26,690, including government grant)
‘The Nissan Leaf is the bestselling electric car in Europe and the perfect entry-level choice. It’s reliable, good value for money and is a really great option if you’re making the transition to electric.’

Best electric cars for… range

Kia e-Niro (from £32,995, including government grant)
‘This was the first electric car to win What Car? Car of the Year, and with good reason. This small SUV has an incredible range of 282 miles – that’s London to Paris! – but feels luxurious and comfortable, plus it boasts an impressive finish.’

*The government currently provides up to £3,500 off brand new electric cars

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