According to current growth projections, the UK is set for 60% of new cars to be electric cars by 2030. This puts the UK well on course for the target to ban the sale of fuel-powered cars by 2035.
This may seem strange to some of us, as seeing electric cars on the road is not quite as common as that figure would suggest. For many of us, choosing to drive an electric car is quite a departure from a fuel-driven vehicle. Putting all our faith in something that is run by a battery may feel quite strange, but exciting at the same time.
Powering a car with electricity rather than petrol is not the mysterious and futuristic concept that it once was. As many manufacturers have begun to produce more practical and affordable electric cars, they are no longer seen as elitist or outlandish. At this point, electric cars are seen as a cleaner, more contemporary option when compared to petrol and diesel.
If you are looking to take your first steps into the world of electric cars, you’ve come to the right place. The team at Vehicle Contracts have put together this complete electric car buyers guide, containing all the information you need to know about driving an electric car. We’re going to talk about types of an electric car, the benefits of each, along with answering some common questions about electric vehicles. Let’s get started.
Types of electric car
Not all electric cars fall into one category. Here are all the types of electrically powered vehicles, and the differences between each.
Alternatively Fuelled Vehicle
This term applies to any type of vehicle that is not fuelled using petrol or diesel. Examples of alternative fuels include hydrogen, biodiesel, propane and of course, electricity.
Electric Vehicle (EV)
An electric vehicle refers to being powered solely by electricity. Instead of engine power, they are propelled by an electric motor, which is powered by batteries. These batteries are then charged by plugging them into a power source. EV drivers are exempt from road tax, and the London congestion charge.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
A hybrid electric vehicle is powered by a standard petrol or diesel engine, alongside an electric motor and batteries. It is a ‘hybrid’ of the two. The electric power is generated by the engine, along with by capturing the kinetic energy that is lost during braking. As a result, the battery of a HEV never needs to be manually charged, as long as the engine is powering the battery properly.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle works similar to a hybrid but does require its batteries to be charged from an external power source. They will go further on one battery charge than EV’s and are also exempt from the London congestion charge.
Hydrogen Electric Vehicle
Hydrogen electric vehicles are perhaps the rarest kind of electric car, as they mix hydrogen with oxygen to create electric power. There are (at present) only 12 operational hydrogen charging stations in the UK, so hydrogen cars are not very common on our roads as of yet.
What are the benefits of driving an electric car?
So, why are electric cars becoming more and more popular? Here are some of the key benefits of becoming an EV driver.
You’ll save money on fuel
Here is the obvious one. Instead of shelling out every week to fill up your tank, all you’ll have to pay is the electric bill on your home charging station. The typical cost for a full battery charge is around £3. For most EV’s, one charge will take you anywhere from 200 miles to 400 miles. This is probably more than enough for a week’s commute.
No emissions whatsoever
Due to being completely electrically powered, an EV gives off no emissions. This means that not only are you helping the environment by driving an electric car, but you will also be exempt from road tax. Additionally, you will be allowed to drive through congestion zones without paying a fee, which is handy if you are driving in a big city like London.
Charging is MUCH easier than fuelling
Instead of driving to a petrol station and putting up with the hassle of fueling, you’ll be able to charge your car from home. Simply charge your car overnight and avoid any annoying detours to fuelling stations. Additionally, under the EV Homecharge Scheme, the UK government can help subsidise the cost of installing a charge point in your home, with up to 75% of the total cost.
Pay less for maintenance
Alongside saving money on fuel, electric cars also offer lower maintenance costs. This is down to the simplistic design of EV’s, coming with fewer components that can potentially fail. A standard petrol car comes with so much that can go wrong, with issues with spark plugs, oil, fuel injectors and motors, the list goes on. An electric vehicle runs off three main components, the electric motor, the charger and the converter. This means they require much less maintenance and servicing.
Government grant incentive
In order to give drivers an incentive to choose an EV, the government currently offers a grant when you choose to drive one. Many EV’s are eligible for this grant from the BMW i8, Renault Zoe and Volkswagen e-Golf. This can help you save a lot of money when you start driving an EV, potentially up to £3,500.
Growing consumer options
As electric vehicles become more and more popular, manufacturers are all competing for who can offer the most accessible and practical EV. At least 60 new full-electric vehicles will be arriving on the UK market in 2020. This is the biggest shock to the system that the automotive manufacturing industry has had in recent times, and will only result in plenty of options for budding EV drivers. Additionally, as competition between manufacturers grows, we are already seeing developments in technology, charge times and battery ranges among new models.
How much does it cost to run and maintain an electric car?
As we mentioned earlier, driving an EV is often a cheaper option than a petrol or diesel model. While the initial purchase or rental of an EV will likely cost you more, you are more or less guaranteed to save money on charge and maintenance. The average distance that a petrol car will go on one tank is 269 miles. Most EV batteries will last anywhere from 200 to 400 miles. When we compare around £40 for a full tank of petrol to £3 for a full battery charge, the savings are obvious.
How far will one battery charge take you?
Most EV’s have a battery range of between 200 and 400 miles. This range covers trips from London to Manchester, Edinburgh to Leeds, Liverpool to Bristol, and any journey of a similar distance. If we’re talking about day to day commutes, if we say that a driver goes 20 miles a day commuting, the battery will probably last more than 2 weeks.
How easy is it to charge an electric car?
Charging an electric car typically takes anywhere between half an hour and two hours, depending on the battery size. Use this online home charging calculator to find out how long it will take you to charge yours. Most drivers tend to charge theirs overnight, or while they are at work. Additionally, there are over 18,000 public EV points in the UK, all of which can be found on Zap Map. In conclusion, it’s pretty easy to charge an electric car, and often more convenient than using a petrol station.
Do all brands make electric cars these days?
Not all brands are currently producing electric cars. However, options are far more varied than they once were. There are now electric cars available for many brands to suit all driving styles. This ranges from the VW e-UP as a city car all the way to the Tesla Model X SUV. According to the latest statistics on the electric car market, there were over 18,000 registrations of electric cars in the UK in March 2020 alone. This means that the market is growing, and more and more electric vehicles are being produced.
Here are some electric cars we love...
Range - 325 Miles
Straight away, we have to give a mention to this spectacular saloon. Tesla is the world’s specialist electric car brand, focusing on only a handful of models. The Tesla Model S is one of the most popular luxury electric cars on the market, capable of hitting the 0-60 mph mark in 2.5 seconds. It features a gorgeous design, a fantastic battery range and a 17” touchscreen instead of a dashboard. If you are looking for the quintessential ‘future of driving’ experience, the Tesla Model S is one to consider.
Range - 215 Miles
For something a little more affordable, the Nissan Leaf is an immensely practical and modern city car. Ideal for short trips and runs around town, the Leaf is one of the most popular electric cars of its size. The Leaf features a wide range of driving technology, including e-Pedal and ProPILOT systems, helping you to drive more efficiently and sustainably. As the name suggests, the Leaf is an excellent choice for eco-friendly driving. If you are looking for an electric alternative to your little city runner, we recommend the Nissan Leaf.
Range - 235 miles
The I-Pace SUV is Jaguar’s first electric car, and offers a unique modern appeal. Boasting a large battery range and the capability to be charged to 80% in less than 90 minutes, the I-Pace is a practical option for long journeys. As a fully electric SUV, the I-Pace fits into two growing areas of the car market while maintaining the Jaguar charm. The I-Pace was also graded 5/5 by What Car?, and offers a dynamic and dramatic presence on the road. If you are looking for a bold and fun electric SUV, the I-Pace is what we’d choose.
Range - 248 miles
For our last pick for our top electric cars, it has to be the Audi e-tron. Feeling more like a spaceship than an actual car, the e-tron provides sophistication with every detail. Complete with touch screen controls, 3D mapping, full leather interior and complete climate control, this is an electric SUV at its finest. With a battery range of 248 miles, the e-tron is another great choice if you’re looking to do some long-distance electric driving. The e-tron also comes with 360-degree parking sensors, high-tech cruise control and enough space for the whole family.
All in all, the world has never been more ready for electric cars. The market is growing, and with it, accessibility, variation and quality. Let’s remind ourselves of the key benefits of electric cars:
- Cheaper maintenance
- Cheaper to charge than fuel
- Government grants available
- Home charging convenience
- No road tax
- No congestion charges
We hope this has given you a good introduction to becoming an electric car driver. If you have any further questions about what electric cars are on offer, feel free to get in touch with our team.