Electric Vehicle technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years with more model choice, greater battery range and an expanding public charging infrastructure.
As a result, more drivers are seeing full Electric Vehicles (EVs) as a viable alternative to a traditional petrol or diesel car. To help you decide whether a pure electric car is right for you, we’ve put together this guide to answer any questions you might have.
What is an ‘Electric Vehicle’?
It’s important to recognise that not all EVs are actually Plug-in Vehicles (PiVs). When vehicle manufacturers refer to ‘electrification’ of their model range, it can potentially involve one or more of the following EV technologies.
Mild Hybrid/48V system (MHEV)
In a ‘Mild Hybrid’, although the electric motor assists the engine, it won’t travel solely on electric power. Generally utilising a 48-volt system, the vehicle can’t be plugged-in and offers greater fuel economy savings than a conventional start-stop function.
Full Hybrid (HEVs)
A ‘Full Hybrid’ has an electric motor, combustion engine and a very small battery. It will travel a few miles on the electric power and then switch back to the engine.
This vehicle can’t be plugged-in, so a combination of the engine and regenerative braking will recharge the battery.
MHEVs and HEVs are not plug-in vehicles and so, from a driver’s point of view, they should pretty much be seen as simply more efficient versions of existing petrol and diesel models that can be driven in exactly the same way. And there’ll be no change to how often you’ll need to fill up the tank.
However, the two EV technologies shown below are both PiVs and, while we’re focusing on Battery Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) in this guide, both are covered where applicable:
Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
This has an electric motor, combustion engine and a larger battery. It will typically travel between 20 and 40 miles* on electric power and then switch back to the engine.
Although the engine and regenerative braking will help recharge the battery like a HEV, in order to fully recharge the vehicle, as the name suggests, PHEVs must be plugged-in to deliver the benefits of the electric range.
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
These are fully EVs with much bigger batteries, powered only by electricity with no internal combustion engine.
Although BEVs make use of regenerative braking to top up the battery and maximise range, in order to fully recharge the vehicle, they must be plugged-in.
BEVs are usually referred to as just EVs, but can be referred to as ‘Pure or Full’ EVs.
What is a ULEV?
A ULEV or ‘Ultra Low Emission Vehicle’ is one with official tailpipe CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less. Although at the moment all ULEVs are PiVs, don’t automatically assume that a PiV is a ULEV.
Why choose an EV?
It might feel like a big step to switch from a petrol or diesel car to a BEV, however there are a number of reasons why choosing an EV could be a smart move:
Lower running costs
Although EVs are currently more expensive to buy or lease than equivalent petrol or diesel cars, they are much cheaper to run, costing approximately £0.04 per mile - but that could be as low as £0.02 per mile depending on your electricity tariff and the model of car. Even when you have to charge up at a public charge station, the cost per mile will still generally be significantly less than for a petrol or diesel car.
Electricity prices are much more stable than fuel prices and so monthly motoring costs won’t fluctuate anywhere near as much as they do for petrol or diesel cars. Electricity suppliers are increasingly providing EV-related home tariffs that are designed to incentivise you to charge your car during non- peak times. Maximising these opportunities will significantly reduce your motoring costs.
Great to drive
It is often said that once you’ve driven an EV, you’ll never want to go back to a petrol or diesel car. That’s because they’re great to drive and the reason for that boils down to a number of reasons:
■ They have much better torque and acceleration, which makes them great around town and for overtaking
■ They’re very quiet and much smoother to drive, making them more comfortable and less stressful on longer journeys
■ The batteries in an EV are usually mounted on the floor, which means that EVs have a very low centre of gravity, and are therefore much more stable.
Zero tailpipe emissions
As well as zero tailpipe CO2 emissions, EVs don’t emit any exhaust air pollutants, which makes them great for the environment.
Low company car taxation
Compared to petrol or diesel cars – even low emission models – EVs have extremely low levels of company car taxation for the next five years, which makes them the perfect choice for company car drivers and anybody looking to get a new car via a salary sacrifice scheme.
EVs are more convenient
If you’re able to charge your EV at home, then you’ll always have a full ‘tank’ when you leave the house in the morning. And you won’t have to make regular stops at the petrol station.
And unlike when you visit a petrol station, when you do have to use a public charge station for your EV, you can do something else with your time whilst your car is charging, such as checking on your emails, making some calls, doing a bit of shopping or grabbing something to eat.
City centre access
EVs are already exempt from the London Congestion Charge and the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. However, it seems inevitable that over the next few years, there will be more restrictions on petrol and diesel vehicles entering city centres, which makes an EV a great future proof option.
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