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A Comprehensive Guide
Electric Vehicles are beginning to become the desired method of transportation. This comes after years of painstaking research, development, failure, further development and ongoing attempts to improve the technology required to make them practical choices.
This is currently the key argument against choosing an electric vehicle or one of the other battery-powered model derivatives: practicality. Electric vehicles, with their long charge times, low range and battery deterioration, just aren’t as efficient at fitting into your busy lifestyle as petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.
There are a lot of benefits to driving an electric vehicle:
Electric cars are well-documented as having far fewer (sometimes zero) CO2 emissions. The production of electricity can also be from sustainable sources like wind, water and solar power. Although the manufacture and distribution of these cars still create a carbon footprint, this is a huge step in the right direction.
Quite often, the cost of road tax (or Vehicle Excise Duty) for electric vehicles is reduced or, in some cases, even free. The Government also provide a “plug-in grant”, which subsidises the cost of a fully electric vehicle, up to £3,500.
Generally, a journey of 100 miles would cost approximately £2-£4 of electricity, depending on your driving conditions and habits. The same journey using petrol or diesel would cost an average of £13-£16 - depending on the cost of fuel in your area.
Electric cars are able to supply all of their power through the drivetrain and tyres almost immediately, unlike cars with an internal combustion engine and gearbox that have to build up to using full power. This results in acceleration and speed figures reaching limits we have never seen before.
Petrol and diesel-powered cars have a lot of moving parts, especially the most modern incarnations. These moving parts are likely to break or not function properly within the entire mechanism. Battery packs and electric motors and drivetrains do not possess as many moving parts, meaning that maintenance is less likely to be needed and services will generally cost less.
The biggest difference in living with an electric vehicle (or plug-in hybrid) is the need to charge the car up instead of a quick trip to the petrol station.
Charging your car can be a huge inconvenience and something you pretty much need to plan ahead for.
According to Zap-Map.com, as of July 2019, there is around 8,850 charging station locations and a total of 24,020 public charging connectors across the UK. These can usually be found at prominent petrol stations and private car parks. Local councils are slowly implementing charging stations in public car parks too.
Our friends at carwow have also made a handy tool to find charge points which you can find here.
Alternatively, you could invest in a home charging unit, which is Government subsidised by £500 (inc. VAT). While it is possible to charge your car from a standard mains socket (with the right cable), this drastically extends the length of time it takes to charge the vehicle and is not optimised for coping with the high electrical current that an electric vehicle demands.
A Home Charging Unit can either be freestanding or wall mounted. The wall-mounted versions are generally much cheaper and considered easier to install.
Currently in development, smart home chargers are being presented as a solution to rising energy costs form driving an electric vehicle. Ohme Technologies Ltd has produced a device that calculates how much power is needed for the driver’s next journey, charging the car accordingly at off-peak times, when electricity is cheaper.
The device is controlled via a smartphone app and can also be selected to only choose electricity that is obtained from renewable sources. This is expected to reduce the cost-per-mile by 80% compared to current petrol and diesel prices.
According to the Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration study, 95% of electric car drivers are looking to implement smart charging technology when available.
All electric vehicles are provided with a manufacturer’s own charging cable - usually kept in the boot compartment. There have been different types of connectors on each end of the cable, as the associated technology has evolved, so it is important to be familiar with which connector type your cable possesses. Simply follow the manufacturer’s guidelines around plugging in.
Most vehicles are supplied with cables that can be plugged straight into a domestic three-pin plug socket. However, this will take a much longer time to charge the car fully and will also increase the rate of battery deterioration.
The most effective and efficient method of charging is to use home charging units - either installed at your home or at your place of work. Public charging points are rapidly growing in number and effectiveness; however, they should only be used for occasional top-ups to reduce range anxiety. The majority of charging time should be done at dedicated home charging units or charging points at work; Lex Autolease recommend at least 80% of your charging to be done on your own chargers.
There usually isn’t an exact figure for this, as there are many factors that affect the charge time.
The factors that affect charge times are:
Approximate Charge Times
Charging times vary between 30 minutes to 12 hours or more. This depends on the above factors.
Generally, the bigger the battery on your car and the slower the charging point, the longer it will take to charge up.
There are three main types of charging point: slow (3.7kW), fast (7-22kW) and rapid (43kW+). Home charging points are usually either the 3.7kW or 7 kW (22kW fast chargers can be installed, by they require three-phase power, which is rarely available and very expensive to install).
A typical electric car battery (60kWh battery) will charge from empty to full in just under 8 hours, from a 7kW fast-charging point.
Using a 50kW fast-charging point, most electric cars can add up to 100 miles in about 35 minutes.
Still being a recognisable vehicle on the outside, a lot of the maintenance and daily upkeep elements are the same to what we are currently used to with internal combustion-engined (ICE) cars. Tyres, chassis and bodywork maintenance are all key elements to consistent performance. On an everyday scale, this will include keeping tyres inflated correctly not over- or under-inflating them and washing the car regularly and properly.
The big differences are, as you would expect, associated with the internal workings of the car. Charging and driving habits will need to be considered with every journey in order to take care of the most crucial and particular aspect of the vehicle: the battery.
Now that you’re armed with more knowledge, hopefully, you will be in a better position to opt for - and enjoy - living with an electric car.