Thinking about making the switch to an electric car? You’re not alone. Electric cars (or EVs) are taking off in the UK, and there’s a good reason for that. An EV could present a practical option to save you money whilst doing your bit for the planet, but what’s it really like to drive one?
We’ve gathered six of the most common questions about electric cars that we in the UK are currently searching to learn more about on our search engines.
1) Are electric cars cheaper to run than petrol cars?
Easy. It’s a ‘yes’. The biggest savings come from fuel – the energy needed to power your car can cost as little as 1p per mile, plus there’s no road tax or emission zone charges. Servicing should also cost less as electric motors require less maintenance than ‘internal combustion engine’, or ICE, vehicles.
2) How far can electric cars go?
This varies from car to car, depending on the battery. Newer EVs generally offer over 200 miles, but the actual number of miles will depend on your driving style and speed.
The range of your EV isn’t your limit on a journey. Using a 50kW rapid charger, 30 minutes of charging (time to stretch your legs) provides an extra 100 miles of driving. Smartphone apps such as Zap-Map make these public chargers easy to find.
What’s your electric car match?
3) Do electric cars drive differently?
Electric cars don’t have gears. Maximum torque is available instantly, offering the driver nippy acceleration with a smooth drive. The biggest difference is the use of regenerative braking – modes that recharge your battery when you take your foot off the accelerator and help to improve efficiency.
4) Can I charge my electric car at home?
Yes. EV drivers with a driveway or off-street parking generally charge most at home. It’s the cheapest and most convenient way to add miles. This can be done by installing and plugging into a dedicated home charging point. These are wall-mounted, weather-proof units, usually with an integrated charging cable. You might top your EV up each night or just plug-in when you need. Home chargers add around 30 miles of range per hour.
You can also charge your car using a normal three-pin socket. This is a great solution if you’re visiting family and need a top-up, however, they are slower, providing around eight miles of range per hour of charging.
If you switch to an EV-friendly energy tariff, you can charge with cheaper electricity. This can work out as low as 1p per mile. Love my EV’s free tariff comparison tool calculates that households can save more than £300 a year on average by simply switching to an EV tariff.
5) What’s an EV like in winter?
Winter temperatures can phase a new EV driver. A petrol or diesel car is very inefficient, and up to 65% of the fuel burnt ends up as heat. Being super-efficient, EVs don’t generate this waste heat, so they need to use some of the battery to heat the cabin in winter. This, combined with the lower efficiency of lithium batteries in cold weather, means you can get 20% less range from your EV through the winter months. However, EVs have preheating, letting you to heat your car while it’s still plugged in at home to reduce the impact on your range. No more deicing or cold starts needed!
EVs are also a much safer option on wintery roads. With no gears, the EV’s power mechanism reduces the chance of wheel spin. Regenerative braking also helps, making electric cars safer on slippery roads.
6) What if I get stranded in an EV?
Like with any vehicle, there is always a risk of running out of fuel and being temporarily stranded. If the worst does happen and you continue to drive without charging, helpfully, a warning light will show you’ve entered tortoise or turtle mode. This will allow you to drive at low speed before a final warning, enabling you to get to a safe area. Vehicle recovery vans will then provide suitable assistance. Most AA and RAC patrol vans can tow EVs and some are even able to give you an energy boost to get you on your way to the next charging station.
If travelling further afield, you’ll want to take a break anyway, so make sure you plan where to stop and add the extra miles you need whilst grabbing a coffee.