Car rates

“Mid-size electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most moms and dads”

You’ve seen and felt it all in recent months – prices have soared, the searing pain of Britain’s cost of living crisis, a dramatic drop in your disposable income. And while there’s no point in blaming yourself for runaway inflation, you should at least be more tuned in to the financial realities of automotive life in 2022.

For those looking to buy a factory-fresh vehicle for the first time, the sub-£10,000 new car is now toast. Dacia’s standard Sandero recently became a £12,295 car, while Ford claims its cheapest Fiesta is £17,905 and Volkswagen has decided its most basic Polo is worth almost £19,000. Such prices are simply too high for entry-level superminis driven largely by young people in low-paying jobs or earning even less in apprenticeships. Why can’t we have more stripped down, underpowered L-Spec models for first-time new-car buyers and, by the way, newly retired retirees on tight budgets?

As for today’s 20- to 40-year-olds with young children, the all-electric family sedan is supposed to be for them. But is it possible? Often between £40,000 and £50,000, mid-size electric vehicles are well beyond the financial reach of the majority of mums and dads. And the automotive industry has to deal with this unpleasant fact.

The obscurity of the energy sector saw the arrival of the £10 gallon at some BP pumps, while average retail prices hitting around 44p per kilowatt hour for fast EV charging at public charging points were the Cherry on the cake. Meanwhile, BP’s profits have more than doubled to £4.1bn in the first three months of 2022. Shell – another company not known for its low prices – nearly tripled its profits to reach £7.3bn in the same quarter.

Interest rates have just reached their highest level since 2009. And within a few months, the global inflation rate should reach 10%, its highest level for 40 years. APR rates, monthly rental fees, etc., inevitably, they will increase.

Additionally, there is growing and disturbing evidence of fraudulent renewal quotes from insurance companies. Case in point: In recent days, Auto Express editor Steve Fowler publicly called out LV= for raising the price of one of its policies by more than 50%, despite no complaints or changes over the past year. Separately, the same company is trying to impose a 60% increase on one of my policies, despite the fact, again, that no changes or claims have been made. Shouldn’t there be a law against this stuff?

But enough of the sometimes understandable, but too often completely unjustifiable price increases in 2022. Let’s instead identify the real car-related bargains that can still be enjoyed. For starters, the seven-seater Dacia Jogger for less money than a Fiesta or Polo is a no-brainer. Or how about an official discount of up to £8,770 on select Peugeot electric vehicles?

And I’m delighted to report that the new car under £10,000 is about to make a welcome return. OK, the Citroen Ami is technically a quadricycle, but it’s a nice little runabout. And at around £7,000, it’s the showroom bargain of the year, or maybe the decade. Whether you’re young or a cash-strapped retiree, this could be your only chance to buy new.

Click here for our list of the cheapest cars on sale in the UK…