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Electric Vehicle FAQs
What is a battery electric vehicle?
A battery electric vehicle (BEV) is a vehicle that uses an electric motor to convert chemical energy stored in rechargeable batteries into forward or reverse motion. Pure BEVs have no on-board internal combustion engine.
What is a plug-in hybrid?
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is similar to a conventional hybrid in that it retains a petrol or diesel engine. However larger battery size increases electric-only range, while the biggest difference is the ability to charge via mains electricity.
What is an extended range electric vehicle?
In the same way that a plug-in hybrid is an extension of a hybrid, an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) is an extension of a plug-in hybrid. A conventional engine is retained but is much smaller and the battery capacity is generally increased. In a pure EREV, the wheels can only be driven by the electric motor(s), the internal combustion engine only being used to hold or recharge the batteries as they become depleted.
Do EVs drive differently to conventional vehicles?
Driving an electric car certainly feels different the first time round. Most notably an electric car is almost silent (except for wind and road noise). Apart from that electric vehicles are similar to most automatic petrol or diesel equivalents. One noticeable difference is that the torque (driving force) is much higher than conventional vehicles at lower speed, which means EVs can accelerate fast from standstill.
How far can a typical EV travel on a single charge?
Most new BEVs have a real-world range of around 80-100 miles although some premium models (such as the Tesla Model S) can achieve three times this.
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 exceed 500 miles on both fuels. EREVs usually offer the same amount of range as BEVs on electric but then can call on a small combustion engine to extend the range to 200-300 miles.
How do I know an electric car is right for me?
There are three key issues that determine whether a battery electric car is right for you: Do you have access to off-street parking? Is your daily mileage under 100 miles? Are you looking to buy a new car?
First, you need to have access to a garage, drive or other off-street parking area to be able to recharge an electric car overnight, the most common form of recharging method. Recent research suggests that around 80% of UK car-owning households already have access to a garage or other off-street parking facility (<50% urban, 70% sub-urban, and >95% rural).
Unless proper provision is made with the permissions of your the local authority, it is not advisable to trail an electric cable across pavements or other public areas to connect a car parked on-street with your household electricity supply.
Second, your driving mileage needs to be limited to less than around 100 miles per day, preferably on a regular route that you know well. For example, regular commuting trips are well suited to electric cars – around two-thirds of commuting trips are less than 10 miles and, most significantly, they are routine journeys for which the driver knows what to expect with respect to distance, route, congestion, road conditions and parking.
Third, you need to be able to afford the higher up-front cost an EV typically commands – whether new or used. Electric cars are significantly more expensive than their conventional equivalents, a situation that is improving but one that is likely to remain for some time. There are an increasing number of used EVs though, but again there is usually a mark-up compared to a conventionally powered rival model.
How can I get more range out of my EV?
It is possible to maximise your EVs range by turning off electrical appliances such as air conditioning, heating etc. and moderating your driving style to be gentler on the throttle while accelerating, and coming off the throttle earlier to make the most of the car’s regenerative braking topping up the battery’s charge. EV drivers often report gaining experience over time as to the real world limits of their EV’s range.
Are EVs really more environmentally friendly?
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).
However, if an electric car is compared with a fuel-efficient diesel car (tailpipe 99 g/km CO2), the life cycle carbon benefit for an electric car using average ‘grid’ electricity is around 25% – a smaller but still significant reduction.
Larger carbon reductions are likely as the UK grid continues to ‘decarbonise’. If renewable or ‘green tariff’ electricity is used, then life cycle greenhouse gas emissions are effectively zero.
Are EVs as safe to drive as other vehicles?
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 are NOT covered by the same testing regimes). For example, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Tesla Model S – four of the UK’s five best selling plug-in vehicles – have a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating as do most new conventional cars.
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).
What models are available?
Most mainstream manufacturers now offer an electric model with more being released all the time. Zap Map keeps an up to date list of all the models currently available in the UK.
EV Charging FAQs
What is an EV charging point?
A charging point is a piece of electrical equipment which can be used to recharge an electric vehicle. Charging points can essentially be grouped into two types; those that supply alternating current (AC) to the vehicle, and those that ‘rectify’ AC to provide direct current (DC).
As batteries are DC devices, delivering DC and requiring DC to recharge, use of an AC unit means that an ‘on-board’ rectifier (or ‘charger’) is required to be built into the EV. DC charging points perform the rectification ‘off board’ in the charging unit; one reason why they are often larger and most costly to manufacture. The advantage, however, is that the vehicle no longer requires an ‘on board’ charger and can be charged more quickly. In practice, most vehicles have an on-board charger to be able to use an AC supply.
Charging points are also categorised according to their power (in kW), a measure of how quickly they can charge an EV. The four main EV charging speeds are:
Slow AC charging (up to 3kW) which is best suited for 6-8 hours overnight;
Fast AC charging (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours;
Rapid AC charging units (typically around 43kW) which can charge some EVs in less than an hour;
Rapid DC charging units (typically around 50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes.
How long does it take to charge an EV?
The speed with which an EV can be fully recharged is dependent on three factors; the charger type (max power available), the model specification, and the battery capacity of the EV.
As charging points can be defined by their maximum power rating – Slow (3kW), Fast (7-22kW) and Rapid (50kW+) – the charger type indicates how quickly an EV could charge. However, this is only half the story as some electric vehicles are limited in how quickly they can recharge due to the specification of the on-board charger. For example, an EV with a 3kW on-board charger connected to a 7kW charging point can only charge at 3kW.
To complicate matters, if an EV has a large capacity battery, this inevitably will take longer to charge even if the power (rate) is high. In general, EVs with relatively long ranges will have larger battery capacities and therefore take longer to recharge on a particular charging point.
While only an indication, for an average EV, typical recharge times are as follows:
Slow AC 3kW: 6-8 hours;
Fast AC 7kW:3-4 hours;
Rapid AC/DC 43/50kW: 30-45 mins for 80%.
Where can I charge my EV?
Most EV owners charge their vehicles at home or the workplace the majority of the time. At home it’s advisable to get a specialized unit installed which you can get from a variety of suppliers. There are often government subsidies and grants available (depending on circumstances). Chargemaster, Rolec, and Pod Point for example all offer home EV charging units. Have a look at our EV Charge Point Installer tool to find companies that supply and fit chargers at home. Alternatively, you can find a list of workplace installers here.
Another option is to use a public charging point for additional backup and/or to increase journey distances. Public charging networks are constantly expanding and offer an alternative to charging at work or home for EV users.
Some points are completely free to use once an RFID card has been obtained, others incorporate the cost of use into a subscription, while others still can operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Visit our Public Charging Networks page to find out more information. There are both national and regional networks that cater for Slow, Fast and Rapid charging. The networks all differ in geographical coverage, what they offer and how you gain access to them.
Do you need special equipment to charge an EV from home?
No but it is advisable. You can use a household 3-pin socket to charge an EV. However, Zap-Map strongly recommends getting a specialist unit installed for safety reasons: 3-pin sockets are not designed for continuous high power EV charging and can overheat. Using a specially designed charger and cable, monitors the continuity of the earth conductor. If this conductor breaks the charger will not operate for safety reasons, protecting your home wiring from damage. Dedicated units are also able to charge an EV more quickly at higher power, and are often installed in locations where cables won’t be a trip hazard.
How do I access public charging points?
In most cases, to access a public charging point you will either need to sign up to a local network, or join a pay-as-you-go scheme.
Each network/scheme has a unique way of accessing its points; some you can access via a swipe or RFID card, obtained by registering on the networks website, and some can are accessible using a smartphone app (i.e Polar and Charge Your Car network network). For a full listing of networks, accessibility options and costs go to Zap-Map’s public networks page.
Is my EV compatible with every charger type?
It’s very unlikely. What charger you can use depends on your vehicle’s specifications (including the vehicle inlet sockets and on-board charger) and whether you have the right connecting cable. The easiest way to find out which types of charging point your EV is compatible with is by using Zap-Map’s Connector Selector.
Where can I find charge points near me?
How many charge points are there in the UK?
The number is continually rising; go to Zap-Map’s stats page for the latest figures.
EV Costs FAQs
Are EVs expensive to buy?
Generally yes; electric vehicles are more expensive to buy than their petrol or diesel equivalents – typically between £3,000 to £10,000 for new cars depending on manufacturer and model. The up-front price gap is coming down slowly and should continue to do so as battery costs (the main reason for the higher prices) gradually fall because of increased manufacturing volume and competition.
However, some manufacturers offer battery lease options as well as outright purchase. In these cases, the battery pack is purchased on a lease contract (typically 2-3 years) and the remainder of the vehicle is purchased outright, so keeping up-front costs to a minimum. Whole vehicle leasing deals are also available as is the case for conventional cars.
Are EVs eligible for Government grants?
Most EVs are currently eligible for the Plug-in Car or Van Grant which is worth, for cars, 25% of the cost of the vehicle up to a maximum of £4,500 for BEVs and £2,500 for PHEVs; and for vans, 20% of the cost of the vehicle up to a maximum of £8,000.
To be eligible under the grant scheme vehicles must be new and satisfy demanding criteria including:
- Category 1: CO2 emissions <50g/km and a zero emission range of at least 70 miles
- Category 2: CO2 emissions <50g/km and a zero emission range between 10 and 69 miles
- Category 3: CO2 emissions of 50-75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles
There is a £60,000 price cap on Category 2 and 3 eligible vehicles to focus grant funds on more affordable models.
For more information, visit the Office for Low Emission Vehicles website.
How do I claim the Plug-in Car or Van Grant?
EV buyers do not need to apply for the Plug-in Grant as the subsidy is already included in the vehicle’s On The Road (OTR) price when purchased – or is reflected in reduced leasing costs. All the paperwork is completed by the dealership or leasing company.
How much does it cost to run an EV?
While EVs may be more expensive to buy or lease, electric cars and vans offer the potential for reducing running costs such as fuel and maintenance costs and annual vehicle tax.
To start with, all EVs, whether they be battery electrics, PHEVs or EREVs are currently exempt from First Year and Standard Rate Vehicle Excise Duty (VED or ‘car tax’). This could represent a saving of a few hundred pounds per year, depending on the comparison vehicle.
Moreover, per mile fuel costs are much lower than petrol or diesel vehicles due to the competitive price of electricity (fuel duty is zero-rated) and to the high efficiency of the vehicles themselves. In most cases for cars and small vans, fuel costs can be as low as 3p per mile for home charging (depending on your supplier and tariff). Compared to an average fuel costs of around 12p per mile, fuel savings can be considerable.
If using a public charging point, rather than home or workplace charging, costs depend greatly on the network. Even so it is a lot cheaper than running a conventional vehicle.
Do I have to pay the Congestion Charge?
In most cases, no. For drivers in and around London, another major running cost benefit is that EVs are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge, worth £11.50 per day. For a driver entering the Congestion Charge Zone most working days of the year, this can amount to a saving of almost £3,000 per year.
To qualify for the 100% Ultra Low Emission Discount, an EV must only emit up to 75g/km CO2 and meet at least the Euro 5 emissions standards. Cars meeting these criteria will need to be registered for an annual fee of £10, but then have free access to the Congestion Charge Zone.
Will I benefit from using an EV as a company car?
In general, yes. Most EVs are rewarded with lower BIK (benefit-in-kind) rates – EVs and PHEVs with emissions of 50 g/km CO2 or less are currently rated at 7%, rising to 9% and then 13% for 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively. PHEVs with CO2 emissions between 51 and 75 g/km are charged at 11%, 13% and 16% for consecutive financial years.
Beyond 2017: In 2017-18 there will be a 4% differential between the 0-50 and 51-75 g/km CO2 bands and between the 51-75 and 76-94 g/km CO2 bands. In 2018-19 this differential will reduce to 3%.
- @au_tom_otive @paul_barker We can provide you centralised data on the profile of charging points for an article if https://t.co/NlstjNxNEH - 1 minute ago
- @jamesdfairchild @IKEAUKSupport @ecotricity Afraid @ecotricity don't (yet!) provide us with data, but above noted a https://t.co/gC3lhQ9Grb - 2 minutes ago
- #ElectricVehicle drivers, where do you do the majority of your charging? @zap_map @The_PlugSeeker @OLEVgovuk @bobbyllew @FullyChargedShw - 5 minutes ago
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