Your guide to electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are becoming more and more ubiquitous in modern life, launched into the mainstream by the likes of Tesla and Nissan, making the electric car accessible to the masses with competitively priced models.

It’s now proven that electric vehicles are a serious proposition for the mainstream. EVs are one of the reasons the motor industry has experienced unprecedented change in recent years, giving us a glimpse into a cleaner future. And we’re going to see much more of them, with 20 pure electric vehicles planned to be released in the next two years.

In fact, sales reached a record high last month, up 7% as reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMTT) and 23% year on year. Last month 7,489 electric and alternative fuel vehicles were sold and forecasts by Bloomberg predict that by 2040 almost 80% of new car sales in the UK will be electric.

In our guide, we’re here to give you a run down on all you need to know about EVs.

How do electric vehicles work?

Electric vehicles are powered by an electrically charged battery pack, similar to the lithium ion batteries you’d find in your phone but on a much greater scale (electric car batteries can weigh up to 600kg!). This powers the motor which converts the electrical energy into kinetic energy and turns the wheels. These batteries are typically stored at the bottom of the cars between the wheels in order to lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity. This electricity is also used for all the other functions in the car from the windows to the radio.

Regenerative breaking is another handy feature EVs have, harnessing the kinetic energy a vehicle produces to power the vehicle. This energy would usually be lost by conventional cars where friction-based brakes convert it into heat.

What types of electric vehicles are there?

Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) 

A conventional fuel engine paired with an electric drive. They include the conventional internal combustion engine, fuel tank, battery pack and electric motor. This combination helps reduce fuel emissions and fuel consumption.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

PHEVs are like HEVs except they can be plugged in to charge the electric battery meaning they have a greater range. These vehicles are designed to engage the fuel engine when battery is running low, but it’s possible to drive them entirely on electric energy.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) 

Purely electric vehicles, where the only source of power is electrical energy from high-capacity battery packs usually stored at the bottom of the car.

The benefits of an EV

While the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is much higher than your conventional car, the running costs are tiny. You’ll be making a massive saving on fuel costs and servicing since electric vehicles have much fewer moving parts internally. The cost of home charging is £570 per year based on an average usage, whereas petrol costs are estimated to be £1,400 a year.

Will it run out of battery?

Range anxiety is a common apprehension people have with electric vehicles. But it’s really not as bad as you’d expect with modern EVs having a range of approximately 150 miles minimum before you’ll need to recharge.

Additionally, with the proliferation of EVs charging points are getting more and more common and there are now over 10,000 public charging points to keep you topped up. Plugshare provides an interactive map of all charging stations in your region, once you click on the location tag details of the charging station will pop up including address, amenities, opening times and contact information.

However, in a worst-case scenario, most EV firms offer a free recovery service upon purchase meaning if you do get stranded you won’t be there for long.

Popular EVs on the market

See some of the highly recommended EVs on the market, note that costs are excluding the £4,500 government grant.

1. Nissan leaf

Cost: Starting at £25,190

Range: 168 miles

Introduced in 2010 the Nissan Leaf is the world’s first mass market electric car at a competitive price. The best-selling model has only improved since its inception with the 2018 model offering better performance and range with no price increase.

2. Volkswagen e-Golf

Cost: Starting at £32,730

Range: 186 miles

The spacious interior is almost identical to your typical golf, the main differences are out of site, with a 318kg battery stored between the wheels. It’s fully electric and includes regenerative braking, which essentially makes the brake pedal redundant while harnessing kinetic energy to power the car.

3. Tesla Model X

Cost: Starting at £80,350

Range: 351 miles

Tesla’s flagship model is seen by many as a pioneer in electric vehicles. It’s appropriately futuristic looking with wing doors, panoramic windscreen and a dashboard free of physical buttons. The SUV has an impressive range and a top speed of 155.3 mph, with a 0 – 60 mph time of 3.2 seconds.

4. Renault Zoe

Cost: Starting at £18,420

Range: 168 miles

The Zoe offers a 100% electric vehicle at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, being one of the cheapest electric vehicles currently on sale. But that does not mean quality is compromised, with a spacious five seat interior, reasonable range and a modest 88 horsepower, with a top speed of 84 mph.

5. Jaguar, I-Pace

Cost: Starting at £63,495

Range: 292 miles

Jaguar’s first all-electric vehicle is the elegant and aesthetic I-Pace. The car goes 0-65mph in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 124 mph. The vehicle’s impressive power is matched with its range at 292 miles.

What does e-car insurance include and what determines its price?

While you don’t need specialist insurance for an electrical car you can choose to take out a policy dedicated to EVs. The risk factors are generally the same as a conventional car, although there are some differences unique to EVs. One variable is whether you leased the battery when purchasing the car and if this is the case you are required to inform your insurance provider. Additionally, power cables open up possibilities of damage and accidents such as falls or fires.

Electric vehicles continue to grow and are gaining a significant slice of the car market, something which is only going to increase with announcements of the British government joining the likes of France and banning diesel and petrol cars in the UK by 2040 in order to cut emissions. EVs offer massive savings on fuel and service costs while ranges continue to increase and charging structure continues to expand, range anxiety will become nothing more than a misconception. The next few decades pose an exciting time for the car industry.

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