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Electric FAQs

An electric vehicle (EV) is one that uses an electric motor for drive, powered by a battery and typically able to be recharged by plugging it in to an external power source. There are three core types of EV – pure electric, plug-in hybrid, and range-extended.

Driving an electric car certainly feels different the first time round. Most notably an electric car is almost silent, with noise from the motor only noticeable at speed, and traditional wind and tyre noise created. Other than that, EVs drive in a similar way to conventional car with an automatic transmission, and are very easy to drive. But better than an automatic, they have lots of ‘torque’ from a standing start, which means that they are very responsive with even standard EV models having quick acceleration.

Without an internal combustion engine, EVs have far fewer parts and are therefore much simpler (and cheaper to maintain) than petrol or diesel cars. The electric motor sends power straight to the wheels, so all you have to do is hit the accelerator and you’re off. Make sure your battery’s charged and look forward to cruising down easy street in your clean, efficient, zero-emission EV.

If you are thinking of buying a pure-EV, there are three issues that need to be considered that will determine whether this type of EV is the right vehicle for you: your access to a private off-street charging point, your daily mileage and your overall budget. Read on to see whether a pure-EV is suitable for your vehicle and travel requirements. Take Our Electric Quiz and Find Out If You Are ready!

Kilowatt-hours are a measure of how much energy can be stored in a battery. For a given vehicle, a battery with greater capacity - more kWh - will have greater range and/or performance.

No. As they run directly from an electric motor, EVs don’t need a gearbox or clutch pedal. This means they’re even smoother than cars with an automatic gearbox, while you control your speed with the brake and accelerator.

The simple answer is yes.
If you want to dive deeper the “technically correct” answer is: Electric cars use fixed-ratio transmission, so technically speaking they are neither manual nor automatic. Unlike ICEs, EVs always run at a high RPM (revolutions per minute) and offer a very wide power band compared to individual gears on a petrol or diesel car. This means you get lots of torque from a standing start, which produces great acceleration.

Fully electric cars don’t produce any tailpipe emissions at all. They don’t have an exhaust and produce 0g/km of CO2 emissions. If everyone drove EVs in urban environments, we could reduce air pollution and benefit from breathing cleaner air. This is why we are seeing low and zero emission zones created across the UK (and the world) that favour EVs in order to bring pollution levels within recommended World Health Organisation and EU limits.

EVs are brilliant for efficiency and emissions, but the energy to charge them up must come from somewhere. In the past, this would have primarily come from fossil fuels such as coal. However, the UK has now almost phased out coal, with only 1.9% of our power coming from it at the start of 2020. This was 42% in 2012. The rise of wind and solar power have been the key to cutting our coal consumption so rapidly in the UK. In 2019 – renewable energy and nuclear combined accounted for over half of our electricity – and there are many more wind and solar projects in development. This will allow us to move further away from ‘dirty’ fuels such as coal and oil towards a cleaner decarbonised grid.

There’s no question that electric cars are better for the environment in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions when in operation. However, we must also take manufacturing into account when discussing whether EVs truly produce zero emissions, as well as the energy required to charge them up. It takes about 15,000 miles to offset the additional carbon footprint of manufacturing an EV vs a new petrol/diesel, however beyond this point EVs will generate 5-10 times less greenhouse gas emissions per year.

If you’re an EV driver and you want to minimise your emissions as low as possible – realworld miles per kWh is the new mpg! The more miles per kWh achieved, the more efficient and lower carbon the vehicle will be. You can check your driving stats in your EV or via your car app to see how many miles per kWh you are travelling. Keep it light on the accelerator and you’ll get even further on a single charge.

Electric cars and vans usually have lithium-ion batteries, which are bigger and more powerful versions of the batteries you’ll find in your mobile phone or laptop. These batteries do gradually degrade over time, however this is a slow process and is not something to worry about over a 2-5 year lease, or even over the lifetime of the car if you are purchasing second hand, as it is not anticipated that EV batteries will need replacing during the life of the car. We advise that you check the vehicle manual for advice to look after the battery.

The level of battery degradation depends on several things, including the number of miles you cover. Improving technology means new EVs are providing better performance even with up to 200,000 miles on the clock.

Yes. Like all lithium-ion batteries, the battery in your EV can be recycled. This helps electric cars in their effort to offer even greater sustainability.
It is estimated that around 80% of batteries can be repurposed for other uses. The approximately 20% that are too degraded to be reused can be recycled. During the recycling process, 75% of materials in the battery can be extracted and reused which reduces the need to mine fresh minerals and therefore reduces the carbon footprint associated with that.

Just like any other vehicle, EVs need to pass an MOT test after three years. They also need to be serviced, ensuring things like your brakes, lights, suspension and steering continue to perform as they should. Servicing costs in our experience are less than half as much for EVs thanks to the lack of moving parts compared to a combustion engine vehicle.

Just like with any other electrical appliance, it really is as simple as plugging your car in to a charging point. As well as your home charging point, you can charge up at public charging stations. You can use Zap Map to locate charging points across the UK, while some workplaces also have them. The connector types vary a little, so Zap Map enables you to filter on the connector type to find charge points compatible with your EV.

There are a three main types of EV charge point (slow, fast and rapid) as well as a number of charging connectors, some of which are suitable for a particular EV. Check out Zap- Map’s EV Charging Guides for a comprehensive ‘how to’ guide for all the main EV

Alternatively, use the connector filters on Zap-Map to find out which public charge points your EV can use.

Charge points tend to be similar in operation from network to network, but access requirements and costs can vary. Some require an RFID card to use them, others an app, while an increasing number offer contactless card payment. Most networks need/allow a user to register details beforehand.

90% of people who own EVs primarily charge up at home – partly because this is very a convenient way to charge, and also because electricity is cheaper at home than at public charging units.

You’ll need a home charging point to top up at home. Charging at home is the best way to make your electric car as cost-effective as possible. There are currently government grants available which contribute £500 towards the cost of installing your home charger, while some manufacturers offer free installation too. Find out more (links to grant page) It is strongly recommended that you have your own charger at home as the public network can be patchy in some areas. We can supply electric cars to customers who are unable to have a charger at home but we always ensure that they understand the potential difficulties around charging solely from public charge points. This said, we have met people who can’t charge at home and happily charge at public charge points exclusively, though this tends to be the exception rather than the rule for electric motoring and won’t suit everyone.

To work out how long a full charge takes, all you have to do is divide the kWh of your battery by the kW of your charger. There are three levels of charging speed – slow, fast and rapid.

Slow chargers offer a maximum speed of 3kW (which is 3kWh of energy per hour), while fast chargers deliver between 7 and 22kW. Rapid chargers offer charging speeds of up to 120kWh per hour, allowing you to add 200 miles of range in just half an hour. Currently in the UK the majority of rapid chargers are 50kW, although 100kW+ chargers are now gradually being introduced.

Multiplying the cost of energy (per kWh – this is on your electric bill) by your battery size will tell you how much a full charge is. There are EV energy tariffs available which cost less than 5p per kWh, cheaper than the more standard tariffs of 15p per kWh. It’s worth joining social media forums for your car type to share information as new tariffs will emerge soon!

Most new EVs have a real-world range of somewhere between 80-250 miles, depending on the model. Small, city-focused cars sit at the lower end of the range spectrum, with many family models easily able to cover 110-180 miles on a single charge, though there are an increasing number that can cover 200-250 miles. Premium models, like the Tesla range or Jaguar I-Pace, can cover 250-300+ miles on a full battery.

Depending on the model, PHEVs are able to drive 15-40 miles in electric only mode. However, when the conventional petrol or diesel engine is used, PHEVs have a range that can easily exceed 500 miles when using both fuels.

Range-extended EVs tend to offer the same amount of range as a pure-EV on electric power, but then can call on a small combustion engine to extend the range. This typically adds another 100 miles or so, with an overall range (using both fuels) of 200-250 miles.

Range can be affected by a number of factors. These include internal factors like the use of air conditioning and/or heating. Driving style can have a great impact too, with higher speeds and aggressive acceleration significantly decreasing the range available. Making good use of regenerative braking can reduce the rate at which your battery’s charge will drop too, and the outside temperature has an impact too – with batteries preferring warm to cold conditions.

Electric vehicles are zero-emission at point of use. However, emissions are produced during the generation of electricity – the amount depending on the method of generation. Therefore, the emissions need to be considered on a life cycle basis so as to include power station emissions.

For climate change gases (such as CO2), electric cars charged using average UK ‘mains’ electricity show a significant reduction in emissions – the figures suggest a reduction of around 40% compared to an average small petrol car (tailpipe 120 g/km CO2). This is improving all the time too, as the UK’s electricity mix is increasingly made up of a greater ratio of renewable energy.

According to the results of crash testing conducted for all cars and vans, yes. EVs have to adhere to the same safety regulations as conventional vehicles – note however that quadricycles like the Renault Twizy are not covered by the same testing regimes. Many of the UK’s best-selling EVs have been awarded five stars by independent safety body EuroNCAP.

However, it should be said that there have been a small number of fires from lithium batteries, most notably involving the Tesla Model S in the United States. However, Tesla has published in-depth data to show that the incidences of fires is no greater than for conventional cars (which may be reported less frequently).

Most mainstream manufacturers offer electric models as part of their line-ups, with more being released all the time. Check out the Electric vehicles Startin Group has to offer!

The answer is typically ‘less than in a petrol or diesel car’ as fuel costs for a petrol or diesel car are usually in the range 10-15 p/mile, and only 3-4 p/mile for a home-charged pure-EV. Because of the variety of models available, each will have different costs per trip, depending on where it is charged, and how efficient the EV is compared to other electric models.

EVs are exempt from paying road tax. This is because the tax, also known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is based on CO2 emissions.

Typically the same as a like-for-like conventional vehicle. This is because they’re higher tech, but lower risk due to no combustible fuel.

One point to bear in mind is that some EVs do have slightly less space available in the boot than their ICE counterparts. This is because EV battery packs are often placed under the floor of the vehicle, and sometimes a little boot space is sacrificed to accommodate this component.

If you are unsure if everyone is going to be comfortable in a particular electric car, then good places to look for advice are EV owners groups. There are lots of these on Facebook for most models, and members provide a wealth of knowledge to new and prospective owners.

Costs vary greatly for public EV charging, depending on how much charge is required, the cost of electricity for each network, and what type of public charge point is used. Some will cost nothing to use, while rapid charging will typically be priced higher than fast charging, due to convenience and higher charge point installation costs.

EV charging costs vary from model to model as different battery sizes affect how much energy is used. Expect a cost per charge at home to cost around £5 for an EV, and less than £2 for a PHEV.

Wallbox refers to the wall-mounted charging point for an All-Electric or Plug-in Hybrid vehicle.

A number of factors, including external temperature, operating the heating or cooling systems and the speed at which you are driving.

Precautions have been taken by manufacturers so you cannot overcharge, or over heat your vehicle.

Charging equipment is completely weather-proof, installation of a socket or Wallbox outside is no concern.

Most vehicles feature LED headlights which are incredibly energy efficient. Driving with your lights on will not make any noticeable difference to the vehicle’s range.

Batteries can be stored as low as -40, but must be plugged in and heated to -20 before driving. In long-lasting hot or cold temperatures an electric vehicle’s range is reduced as energy is required to keep the battery at an efficient operating temperature; energy is also needed to warm up the cabin when the temperature is low.

For Plug in-Hybrid (PHEV) and Hybrid (HEV), If the battery completely runs out of charge, the combustion engine kicks in.

For All-Electric Vehicles, If the battery completely runs out of charge, the vehicle will eventually stop - your battery management system provides energy updates as your range depletes, your sat-nav systems will allow you to find the nearest charging point.

According to Pod Point, charging an electric vehicle overnight at home will cost around £3.64 for a full charge. If we assume a typical range of 100 miles, that equates to less than 4p per mile – around a third as much as a very economical petrol or diesel car. Many public charging points in supermarket and town centre car parks are still free, although you may have to pay for rapid chargers – such as those found at motorway service stations – which can cost around £6.50 for a 30-minute charge. It’s worth joining social media forums for your car type to share information as new tariffs will emerge soon!

If you live in an apartment but are considering buying an All Electric/Plug-in Hybrid vehicle, you can ask your landlord or building owner to consider installing a public charging station for use. You may end up paying some or all of the costs, but the good news is that you may be able to split the cost with other residents who own electric vehicles or are considering buying one.