Deciding whether or not an electric car is right for comes down to the sort of driving you’ll use it for. If you cover no more than 200 miles per day and have easy access to a charging point at home or work, then the answer is an EV is ideal for you.
If you can charge at home and work, this can double your daily range to around 400 miles so long as you know you can leave the car plugged in for long enough to charge the battery fully. Off-street parking at home is a big advantage as you can have a dedicated charging point installed and you don’t have to worry about running cables across public paths or not getting parked near your house.
The cost of electricity to power an EV is about a third of that for petrol or diesel, so you can save on daily commuting expenses. You may also be able to take advantage of discounted travel when driving in London’s Congestion Charge Zone (or Ultra Low Emission Zone), through its “cleaner vehicle” discount scheme. With other cities likely to follow suit, this could save you a lot of money every day.
What's the difference between an EV and PHEV?
PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles) can be confused with EVs (electric vehicles) because both come with a battery, each can be charged by connecting to an electricity socket and both are capable of zero exhaust emissions.
However, as the PHEV’s name implies, it has more than just an electric motor to power its wheels. Whether this is a petrol, diesel or even a hydrogen engine, it means a PHEV is still reliant on more than just battery energy for its motion.
For most buyers of PHEVs, the deciding factor is greater range as a PHEV is less reliant on being charged for every journey. This does mean that a PHEV emits carbon dioxide from its exhaust when a pure EV does not and a plug-in hybrid will not offer as great a range on battery power alone as an EV.
Nonetheless, a PHEV is often used as a stepping stone for those that may feel a little nervous about full electric vehicles.
What's the range of an electric car?
Whilst older electric cars will do somewhere between 50-80 miles - or less if you drive in a more aggressive manner, in just a few years, EV’s have come a long way and modern EV’s can be capable of up to 350 miles depending on the specification of their batteries. You can compare the range of all our electric vehicles by using our electric vehicle search tool.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
How much you pay to charge up your battery-powered car depends on a variety of factors.
The first is where you choose to connect your car to a power supply. If you hook up at work or some public charging bays, it can be free to recharge your car’s battery as this is offered as an incentive to use EV’s.
At home, you’ll pay for electricity at the same rate as you do whenever you use any other electrical appliance. The cost comes down to what tariff you’re on from your electricity supplier and when you choose to charge your car.
Most suppliers offer cheaper tariffs at night when there’s less demand, so you should pay around 9p per kilowatt-hour, which is the unit of measurement for electricity. For a Nissan Leaf with a 30kW battery, that would mean a cost of £2.70 to fully charge the battery.
During the day, when the cost of electricity can rise to around 15p per kilowatt-hour, charging up the same Nissan would cost £4.50, so it pays to charge overnight at home if you can.
At motorway services, one of the largest UK providers of electric charging stations is Ecotricity. They charge 30p per kWh or 15p per kWh for the firm's home energy customers. There’s a 45-minute maximum stay at these chargers.
Where can I charge my electric car for free?
Free fuel is one of the big attractions of an electric car as there are places that let you charge up for nothing.
Some companies offer employees free charging for part or all of the day to encourage greater use of EV’s and also as part of their corporate commitment to the environment. However, some of these charging bays may be time-limited so that others can use them during the day.
Many supermarkets, shopping centres and car parks offer free charging to attract users. The charging can be free for as long as you’re in that shopping centre or car park.
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