- Are electric cars really cheaper to run?
- Are electric cars really environmentally friendly?
- How do I charge an electric car?
- How does the range of an electric car vary over time?
- What happens if an electric car runs out of energy?
- The government has announced a ban on conventional cars after 2030. What happens then?
- Are electric cars fun to drive?
- Are electric cars safe? What happens in a crash?
- Does it cost more to service my Electric Car?
- Public Charging Etiquette:
Question: Are electric cars really cheaper to run?
For day to day running expenses there is the cost of energy and the cost of servicing.
For energy costs (electricity), it will depend on how and where you ‘fill up’. The general cost of energy per mile is cheaper using electricity, but with the cost of living crisis, electricity is more expensive than it used to be, so the saving is not as great as it was.
However that depends where you fill up. If you have solar on your house, then it is very cheap to charge an EV, if your electricity provider has an EV Tariff, then you can have cheaper overnight electricity and that is a saving. And just as fuel stations have varying prices and you avoid motorway petrol if possible, so it is with public EV chargers, with different operators having different prices, with some supermarkets and car parks being free, through to some high power chargers being nearly £1 a kW/h.
For servicing, as there are far fewer moving parts, there is very little to maintain. The usual costs for oil and other consumables are gone, and with regenerative braking on most EV’s, there is little use made of the conventional brakes so the pads last longer. Even the tyres last as long as conventional cars when driven reasonably.
Question: Are electric cars really environmentally friendly?
An EV does not pollute as it drives along but the source of the electricity when charged will drive how environmentally friendly it is. Many people driving electric vehicles are on green tariffs where the energy is sourced from renewable sources. Increasingly, as more solar and wind farms are installed, larger proportions of electricity are now renewable
The construction of an EV has been said to be less environmentally friendly, primarily due to the batteries. However, most recent comparisons show that taking the pollution from petrol/diesel into account, an EV becomes less harmful than a conventional vehicle after about 8,000 miles of use. And of course, batteries no longer suited to car use can be repurposed and ultimately recycled.The environmental cost of the exploration, production and transport of fossil fuel has not been fully measured and is often ignored, despite being substantial.
Question: How do I charge an electric car?
You can charge an EV at any suitable point, these range from:
- At home on cheaper overnight electricity. Often called a “slow charger”, they charge at up to 7KW AC.
- At work or another carpark, so that the car charges slowly while you are not using the car. Some shopping malls, restaurants and cinema complexes now have chargers, so that the 2 or 3 hours that you are visiting, you can top up your car at the same time. Sometimes called destination charges using “fast chargers”, they typically charge up to 22KW AC.
- For long distance journeys, then the EV driver would use high power chargers that can fill an EV from 10-80% in 20-45 minutes, and these are found on major routes and motorway services. So the EV charges while you visit the services, but it is much faster than when shopping or at other destination chargers. These are referred to as Rapid or Ultra-rapid chargers and can charge at rates of 50-100KW DC, or higher.
Question: How does the range of an electric car vary over time?
EV range will vary due to the weather, similar to a conventional car, with headlights and windscreen wipers using more of the energy. However, the temperature will also have an effect on the battery, so on colder days the efficiency is not as on warmer ones.
When new an EV will have 100% of the battery capacity and most manufacturers will have a warranty for so many miles of use before the battery capacity reduces to a given limit.
For example the Tesla Model 3 warranty has 8 years or 100,000 miles and the battery having a minimum of 70% of its original capacity.
However, in reality, these are worse case figures and there are many examples of EV’s doing many miles with little degradation. For example, a Tesla Model X has done 200,000 miles and is at 90% capacity, while a Nissan Leaf has done 300,000 miles and has only lost 5% of its capacity.
Question: What happens if an electric car runs out of energy?
The same as if you run out of fuel, the roadside recovery services now have a generator or battery boost alongside their 5 litre fuel can.
Question: The government has announced a ban on conventional cars after 2030. What happens then?
This means that you can no longer purchase a new vehicle from a dealer that uses fossil fuel after that date, however, the second hand market for such vehicles will not be affected. Similarly, there will still be fuel stations around selling fuel for these vehicles.
Question: Are electric cars fun to drive?
Yes, most of the current models have powerful motors and offer easy and fun driving experiences similar to driving an automatic car (they are direct drive and need no gears). They are not the old ‘milk float’ of many years ago. Also, they are quiet for the passengers, so conversations or listening to music is much nicer without the noise of the engine.
Question: Are electric cars safe? What happens in a crash?
All vehicles undergo strict testing before they can go on sale, and EV’s meet the same requirements. Some people have deliberately shot a bullet into a battery pack to prove how safe they can be in an accident.
Question: Does it cost more to service my Electric Car?
No, there are less moving parts, minimal oil needed and even the brakes get less wear as most EV’s use regenerative braking to slow down – using the electric motor.
Public Charging Etiquette:
All EV’s have a charge curve, which shows that when empty the battery will charge really quickly, but the curve drops down as the battery fills, slowing the process.
As an example, an EV may charge at 100kW at 10% capacity, but will be down to 50kW when it gets to 80% capacity. This will continue to drop so that it could be 30kW at 85% and 10kW at 90%.
Therefore it is good manners to only charge an EV to 80-85% when using a busy public charger, otherwise the time it would take your EV to charge from 80-100% would be the same, or longer, as another EV going from 10-80%.
If you leave your vehicle while it is charging, monitor the battery capacity on the vehicle app so that you can return to the vehicle once it has reached 805 or a preset maximum if lower, so that you do not occupy a charger when your vehicle is done.
Unlike a fuel station forecourt, there is not usually an obvious way of queuing if all the chargers are in use. Different locations have different ways to do this, some are such that you can form some type of queue, but many in car parks do not. Therefore if you arrive and find the bays occupied, have a quick look around to see if there is obviously someone else with an EV waiting nearby. They will probably know if they are the next or even the last in line and so you can follow from their lead.
Be kind, some people will not notice others and seeing someone drive out and immediately go for the space, so politely point out the queue and ask them to join at the back.