Following the UK Government’s decision to bring forward the phasing out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 (ten years earlier than planned) as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Understandably, there has been a lot of concern and questions from drivers about the realities of switching to driving an electric car, like which car is best? how much does car day insurance cost? where can you charge your electric car?
Even before the PM’s announcement, sales of electric cars were rising quickly – figures from October 2020 show that there was a 195% increase in the sales of battery electric cars compared to October 2019, whereas there was a 38% decline in sales of diesel cars over the same period – and most people say that they find electric vehicles better to drive than petrol and diesel cars.1
In the run up to the 2030 phase-out date there are still lots of unanswered questions and challenges to tackle. Existing drivers will need support to be able to switch to electric vehicles in the most affordable way possible, plus the UK will need to be kitted out with an efficient public charging network. In this post I wanted to share a few common questions and try to answer them based on an amalgamation of the research I have been doing, plus share links to a few valuable resources.
Drivers that go electric in England typically do so as they are concerned about air pollution, climate change, or want to significantly reduce their fuel costs. Regardless of their motivations going into their first purchase, the majority find that they are just great vehicles to drive.– Electric Vehicle Association
Which electric car is best?
Whilst everyone has different requirements, the range of electric vehicles on the market is rapidly growing and with that hopefully the prices will become more affordable. If you’re looking for a family car, Car Magazine rank the Volkswagen ID.3 (priced at approx £32k) as one of the best vehicles in 2020, whilst the Honda E (approx £26k) and the BMW i3 (approx £38k) are amongst the most popular small cars. When it comes to luxury models, the Porche Taycan, which costs from £83,387 is leading the way, alongside the top of the range Tesla Model S.
Can I get a Government grant for an electric car?
Currently, you can get a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a grant the government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers. You do not need to do anything if you want to buy one of these vehicles – the dealer will include the value of the grant in the vehicle’s price.
The maximum grant available for cars is £3,000, however not all low-emission vehicles will get a grant, only vehicles that have been approved by the government are eligible. You can also get up to £350 (including VAT) off the cost of installing a charger at home through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which you can apply for online.
Where can I find an EV charge-point?
As part of its ambitious plans, the government expects to have developed an extensive network of rapid charging points across England – at least 2,500 by 2030, rising to 6,000 by 2035.
Currently, many electric vehicle owners charge their cars at home, although one of the main concerns for non-electric drivers is how is easy it will be to keep their car charged when on a journey. Frustratingly, at present the chances of finding a public charging point can vary quite drastically across the UK. According to research carried out by U-Switch, the top three places to find charging points are Bristol with 140 points, Milton Keynes and Dundee.
However, you can check your local area on Zap Map, which allows you to easily search your location and find your nearest charging point.
What is the cheapest electric car?
After looking at the most popular new models, it seems a Smart car is the cheapest option. The car brand now only sells electric cars and the EQ Fortwo is the smallest and cheapest of them. A new model costs from £16,850.
On the other hand, the cheapest Tesla will cost you more than double the price. Tesla Model 3, with the Standard Range Plus rear-wheel drive, costs £38,900, after the Government’s £3,500 plug-in car grant.
Which electric car has the longest range?
These are some approximate ranges for different electric cars, the Tesla Model 3 LR having the longest range of 310 miles:
- Renault Zoe – 233km (145 miles)
- Hyundai IONIQ – 193km (120 miles)
- Nissan Leaf Acenta – 225km (140 miles)
- BMW i3 120Ah – 233km (145 miles)
- Tesla Model 3 SR+ – 354km (220 miles)
- Tesla Model 3 LR – 498km (310 miles)
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
To work out the cost to charge an electric car at home, you need to know how much electricity costs in pence per kilowatt hour (kWh).
The equation to work out how much it will cost to charge the battery from empty to full is: Size of battery (kWh) x Electricity cost of your supplier (pence per kilowatt hour).
Consumer organisation Which estimates the average driver will use between £450 and £750 a year of additional electricity charging an electric car.
If you’re out and about, public charge points at supermarkets or car parks are often free to use, whilst rapid charging points are normally found at motorway service stations and typically cost around £6.00 for a 30-minute, 100 mile charge.
A great resource is The Humble Penny Financial Vlog, Ken and Mary share an in depth look at the practicalities and costs of running an electric car.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
Sadly, there’s no definite answer, as the time varies depending on the size of your car’s battery and the speed of the charger.
Electric cars are available in a variety of battery sizes. When it comes to charging: the bigger the battery, the longer it will take to fully charge your car. The current Nissan LEAF has a 40kWh battery, whereas the Jaguar I-Pace has a larger 90kWh battery, meaning the I-Pace will take longer to charge to its full capacity.
There are currently three types of electric charging methods:
- Slow charging – Almost all new electric cars will arrive with two charging leads, one for plugging into EV charge points, and a 3-pin plug cable that you can connect to a domestic electricity socket. The 3-pin plug cable will charge your car at a maximum speed of 3kW, which means it would take around 13 hours to fully charge a Nissan LEAF with a 40kWh battery.
- Fast charging – These are chargers that can deliver between 7 and 22kW per hour. 7kW fast charging can take place at home, along with a number of public charging units. In comparison to slow charging, fast charging would reduce the time it takes to fully charge your vehicle by around 75%.
- Rapid charging – If you need a boost when driving long distance, you can use a rapid charger. Unlike other public charging points, you won’t need your own cable to connect to a rapid charger, and you can charge your car from empty to full in around 30 minutes. Whilst these may be difficult to find right now, most electric vehicles will come equipped with a sat nav that detects them for you.
What is a plug in hybrid?
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, also known as a PHEV is a hybrid which, as the name suggests, can be plugged in to charge its electric battery. The UK government also announced that it will “allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035”. Although the full details are yet to be confirmed, it is expected that this will primarily relate to certain plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and range-extended vehicles. Both of these technologies offer a stepping stone that has helped many motorists and commercial operators to make the transition from petrol and diesel engines to electric.
It seems like there’s still quite a long way to go before the government are able to make their green goals a practical option for many. However, the more people that make the switch, the more affordable vehicles will become. It’s very promising to see the level of people switching to electric already rising at such a rapid rate. Here’s to cleaner air and a more sustainable future!
1 Vehicle sales figures from the SMMT. There have been numerous trials and surveys over recent years that show that the majority of people prefer the driving experience of electric cars and vans, for example, the UK’s largest ever survey of electric vehicle drivers and cleantech enthusiasts (7,723 respondents) conducted by Fully Charged found overwhelmingly, that around nine out of ten plug-in car drivers would never go back to petrol or diesel- via Green Car Guide