With 100,000 e-vehicles officially expected on UAE roads by next year – a four-fold increase from 2022, electric cars have been an increasingly popular option for car buyers year after year. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Were you hoping to get a new electric vehicle (EV) this year, but are high costs keep holding you back? While owning an electric car is still considered a distant dream for many, there are cost-effective alternatives you could choose from so as to enjoy the multiple perks it offers.

“With 100,000 e-vehicles officially expected on UAE roads by next year – a four-fold increase from 2022, electric cars have been an increasingly popular option for car buyers year after year,” said Jacob Koshy, a Dubai-based automotive analyst specialising in retail pricing.

“But what often prevents buyers from owning or driving one home is either the cost or the wait to get one. This is why despite their many benefits, more people have been turning to electric car renting or leasing as a practical and affordable alternative to buying electric or fuel-run vehicles.”

Why lease an electric car? How is it different from renting?
Car leasing is essentially a long-term rental plan. A lease tenure will last from 1 to 3 years, depending on the type of agreement you choose. “If you do not wish to make the large financial guarantee that comes with buying an electric car, car leasing is an obvious alternative,” said Koshy.

The main difference between a car rental and a car lease is the time period. Car rental is always a short-term option spanning over hours, days, weeks, and in some cases, a few months. A lease car is a long term option.

“You lease a car for years – 2 years, 3 years, 5 years (lease duration for five years is rare now). Also, there are differences of documents needed to lease a vehicle and rent, including renter’s responsibilities, comprehensive insurance and additional charges,” he added.

Why is it more affordable to rent or lease an electric car?

One of the most significant benefits of leasing or renting an electric car, according to Ibrahim Riba, a senior salesman at a car dealership based in Abu Dhabi, is the lower monthly payment compared to buying a new car outright.

“Leasing or renting an electric car allows you to spread the cost of the vehicle over a longer period, reducing the amount you pay each month. This can make owning an electric vehicle more accessible and affordable for many people,” she added.

“Another advantage of electric car leasing is the flexibility it offers. With options like ‘personal contract purchase’ or ‘hire purchase’, you can customise the lease terms and choose a leasing period and monthly payment that works for your budget.”

Know your electric car lease options: HP, PCP
The two most common types of car finance are Hire Purchase (HP) and Personal Contract Purchase (PCP). Personal contract purchase, or PCP for short, is a flexible car financing option that can offer lower monthly payments than a personal loan or hire purchase (HP) car finance agreement.

HP is basically a loan to help you buy the car you want. To put it simply, HP could be the better option if you plan to own your new car at the end of the agreement; whereas PCP may be more suitable if you like to change it every few years.

What are the upsides when leasing to own an electric car?

According to Koshy and Riba, there are multiple upsides when choosing to lease an electric car and owning the car at the end of the lease term:

• Free car service and maintenance cost: When leasing to own an electric car, you primarily save on registration charges. The maintenance and car service costs are usually free during the lease period.

• Convenient payment plan: The monthly instalments are convenient to pay since they are customised prioritising the customer’s budget.

• Buy the latest car model: Buying any newest car is not available to many people, while the option of renting allows customers to purchase their dream car after the lease expires.

electric car 1
A staff member poses with a charging plug for an e-Golf electric car, outside the new production line of the Transparent Factory of German carmaker Volkswagen in Dresden, Germany. Image Credit: Reuters

How leasing or renting an electric car brings down loan costs

When you rent or lease an electric vehicle, you eliminate the hassle of auto loans and the stress of securing financing. “Unlike buying a new car, renting or leasing an electric car does not require a significant down payment or a long-term commitment,” added Koshy.

“This makes it an attractive option for those who want to drive a new car without the financial burden of purchasing one. Electric vehicle leasing also allows you to drive the latest technology and features without the commitment of owning a new car.”

As electric cars continue to evolve and improve, leasing an electric car allows you to upgrade to newer models as they become available, added Koshy. However, what’s far more crucial is the positive impact leasing or renting an electric vehicle has on your wallet.

Your savings can stack up fast when renting or leasing an electric vehicle
Depending on factors such as the type of car, the car rental company, and the duration of the lease period, the average monthly cost of leasing an electric car in the UAE starts from Dh1,500, compared to Dh2,000 per month for its fuel-run counterpart.

According to global statistics, the Ford Mach-E, for example, is $500 (roughly Dh2,000) cheaper per month and nearly $7,500 (Dh27,500) cheaper per year versus a comparable fuel-powered vehicle.

And the Tesla Model Y, which has been the best-selling EV worldwide since its introduction, is $500 cheaper per month or more than $5,000 (about Dh18,000) cheaper per year compared to its gas-powered equivalent.

How do you decide if an electric car suits your budget?

“If price is your only consideration when buying an electric car, then it's unlikely that an EV is a good fit given its cost,” said Riba. “However, shoppers with a bit more flexibility in their budget - particularly those who can easily charge their vehicle at home – will find that an EV is a smart buy.

“While renting an electric car is often cheaper than buying one outright, there may be flexible lease options available. If you're not sure whether an electric car is right for you, renting can be a good way to test the technology without making a long-term commitment.”

However, Riba says rentals can only serve as a stop-gap, short-term fix. “In the long run, EV ownership via leasing makes far more economic sense than rentals. Also, purchasing an EV can be lucrative, given that interest rates on loans for such cars are usually lower than a regular car loan,” she added.

Will electric cars turn more affordable in 2024?
As the price of an electric car, especially a new one, is often cited as one of the major hurdles to the wider adoption of battery-powered motoring worldwide as opposed to their low-cost combustion-engine equivalents, upfront cost is still a major stumbling block for many. But for how long?

“As to whether or not the cost of electric vehicles will drop this year, and will price equality with fuel ever happen, there is good news. Just like how prices have been on the downward trend in the past year, prices of new electric cars are starting to reduce this year as well,” added Riba.

“More global research is indicating how the headline prices for basic models will fall even further as we head through 2024. This is not just for the ever famous electric models of Tesla, but with car manufacturers across the world like Citroën, Volkswagen and BYD, to name a few.”

Bottom line: Is leasing an electric car more economical than buying?

“As with any major investment, it's important to consider your needs and options before deciding whether an electric car is right for you. If you only drive around your city and have multiple nearby locations to charge your EV, an electric car could be a great deal for you,” Koshy added.

“When it comes to deciding between buying and leasing one, the benefits of leasing an electric vehicle outweigh buying one, especially if your budget doesn’t allow for one. With a lower monthly payment, flexible lease terms, and no loans, leasing an electric car is an affordable and practical option. “

Simply put, electric car leasing is an attractive option for car buyers looking to enjoy the many benefits of driving an electric car, but their budget prevents them from taking on such a cost, especially at a time when electric vehicles become more popular, added Riba.

“But with e-cars, bear in mind that even though electric cars offer perks like lower emissions, long-term cost savings, and a quieter driving experience, they also have risks, including limited driving range, long charging times, fewer charging stations, battery degradation, and higher upfront costs.”