Unsure if an Electric Vehicle is the right choice for you? We have compiled this list of frequently asked questions to help guide your decision making.
What is an Electric Vehicle (EV)?
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are vehicles that are partially or fully powered by electric.
Are there different types of Electric Vehicle?
Yes, there is a number of different types of Electric Vehicle and this generally depends on the size of the battery included in the vehicle. There are three main types of electric vehicles:
Battery Electric Vehicles
Compared to an internal combustion engine vehicle powered by petrol or diesel, BEVs have approximately 99% fewer moving parts that need maintenance. They use rechargeable batteries which can be charged at home or using public charging infrastructure to provide range of up to 500km depending on the model. BEVs create little noise, do not contain an exhaust, spark plugs, clutch or gears. Charging can take between 30 minutes and 12 hours depending on the charger speed and the battery size
Plug in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV)
PHEVs offer a mixture of both battery and petrol/diesel power. Drivers can use the electric power for shorter distance journeys and switch to petrol or diesel power for longer trips. These vehicles require both charging and refuelling with traditional fossil fuels. PHEVs have a smaller battery pack than BEVs
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
HEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine in combination with one or more electric motors that use energy stored in batteries. The extra power provided by the electric motor may allow for a smaller combustion engine. The battery motor will power the vehicle for speeds of up to 20 miles per hour at which point the combustion engine will take over. A hybrid cannot be plugged in to an external power source and does not require recharging, instead using regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine to charge.
Who should own an Electric Vehicle?
Electric Vehicles make sense for drivers in a range of situations but at this point cannot be considered as a straight alternative for petrol or diesel powered vehicles due to their purchase price. An electric car makes for a suitable commuter vehicle if you are only travelling a few miles to and from work. The lower range capabilities won’t matter and you may only need to recharge the vehicle once or twice per week. If you are looking for a vehicle that helps reduce your environmental impact then an electric vehicle, particularly a Battery Electric Vehicle is the choice for you as the vehicles produce zero emissions. EVs are also quieter than conventional combustion engine vehicles and considered to be healthier for drivers.
What does KW and kWh mean?
Kilowatt (kW) is a measure of power. One kilowatt is 1000 watts. Kilowatts (kW) is the measurement of energy used for electric car chargers, in other words it’s the rate at which power is transferred from the charging station to your electric car.
kW can also be used as a reference to the output of the electric motor. In a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle this would be measured in bhp. When kW is used in the context of a charger, it’s the rate at which you can charge your battery. When used in the contact of a car, it’s the size of the motor.
kWh refers to the amount of energy stored in a battery or the amount of energy expended in one hour by a kilowatt or power. kWh is also the measurement used by energy providers when billing you for powering domestic appliances. In summary kWh is the size of the battery while kW is either the size of the electric motor or the rate at which your battery will recharge.
Are Electric Vehicles more expensive to buy?
The initial purchase price of an Electric Vehicle can cost upwards of £10,000 more than a similar size petrol or diesel powered car.
Will the purchase price drop in future?
As technology and the facilities required to produce the batteries for electric vehicles improve the cost price is expected to fall. Forecasts show that EVs may reach price parity with combustion engine vehicles by 2025, well ahead of the ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles in the UK and Ireland in 2030.
Are Electric Vehicles expensive to run?
One of the major benefits of Electric Vehicles is their running costs. Compared to conventional petrol or diesel powered vehicles, drivers experience lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance bills and zero or discounted road tax. The lifetime costs of ownership can often be lower than the total costs of a petrol or diesel vehicle.
What are the benefits of Electric Vehicles?
The benefits of Electric Vehicles include lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance and servicing costs, low or zero carbon emissions, quieter vehicles, more enjoyable driving experience, convenience, free parking (at selected sites) and higher resale values.
Are Electric Vehicles environmentally friendly?
Electric Vehicles produce lower emissions than their petrol or diesel powered counterparts. Fully electric or Battery Electric Vehicles produce 0 emissions and therefore are considered to be more environmentally friendly. The green credentials of vehicles however are in question particularly due to the processes involved in lithium mining – lithium fuels the batteries used in electric vehicles and electric vehicles do contribute to emissions when they are being charged – depending on the source of the electricity.
Are Electric Vehicles safe?
All EVs are built to meet the same strict design and manufacturing regulations as petrol and diesel powered vehicles. Strong structures, extensive crumple zones and multiple airbags help ensure that occupants are as well protected as possible in the event of an accident. While some concerns may exist around the flammable batteries used in the vehicles, manufacturers have ensured that they are very well protected in a crash resistant structure that is mounted as low in the car and as far away from potential impact areas as possible. EVs also have safety systems that automatically isolate the battery in the event of a crash and disconnect all the power coming from the battery to the vehicle.
How far can I travel on a single charge?
The distance you can travel on a single charge will depend on the vehicle battery size and as new models are introduced to the market the range of vehicles is being improved. The majority of new electric vehicles can achieve distances of between 150 and 300 miles on a single charge.
What is difference between Official Range and Real-world range?
The official range of an EV is the distance the manufacturer says you can travel on a full battery. This is a laboratory derived figure according to Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) rules. Real-world range is what EV drivers call the miles you can realistically expect to get out of your electric car and is usually a bit lower than the WLTP figure as it is affected by factors including speed, road and weather conditions, use of air conditioning and heating, the weight inside the car and battery age.
What is range anxiety?
Range anxiety is one of the terms most commonly associated with Electric Vehicles and it refers to the fear that you don’t have enough charge in your car to make it to your destination, not too dissimilar to that experienced by drivers of petrol and diesel powered vehicles. While range anxiety is considered to be one of the major barriers to the large scale adoption of electric vehicles, drivers should not worry about range. The average daily journey in the UK and Ireland is less than 30 miles and even the smallest battery electric vehicles can offer a range of up to 150 miles on a single charge meaning drivers might only need to charge their vehicle once or twice each week.
Is it possible to run out of charge?
Although unlikely due to the on-board warning systems and navigation tools, it is possible that you may run out of charge in an electric vehicle. Even when the battery reaches 0% all power is rerouted to permit several miles of driving distance at minimum speed giving drivers a chance to reach a charging station or to pull over safely.
What happens if I run out of charge?
While it is unlikely, if you do run out of charge drivers are encouraged to pull over in a safe place and call their roadside assistance provider if it is safe and legal to do so. Several roadside assistance providers have vehicles equipped to facilitate as much as ten minutes of fast charging. Alternatively the assistance vehicle should be able to tow or carry your vehicle to nearby charging point.
What is the lifespan on an Electric Vehicle?
The lifespan of an Electric Vehicle is dependent upon the battery used to power the vehicle. EV batteries undergo cycles of ‘discharge’ that occur when driving and ‘charge’ when the car is plugged in. Repeating this process over time affects the amount of charge the battery can hold. This decreases the range and time needed between each journey to charge. Most manufacturers have a five to eight-year warranty on their battery. However, the current prediction is that an electric car battery will last from 10 – 20 years before they need to be replaced. To preserve the life of an electric vehicle battery, manufacturers ensure that there is additional space capacity to compensate for degradation over time.
Do all EVs produce zero emissions?
No. Battery electric vehicles produce 0 emissions and do not have a tailpipe, however they do produce emissions during charging. This is dependent on the source of the electricity being used to charge the battery. Plug-in hybrids and hybrid electric vehicles do produce emissions but at a significantly reduced level to their counterparts powered solely by petrol or diesel and many produce emissions lower than 50g/km.
Can the electricity grid handle the increasing number of Electric Vehicles on our roads?
Even with exponential growth and the mass adoption of Electric Vehicles as forecasted by 2030 when both the UK and Irish government introduce bans on the sale of new petrol and diesel powered vehicles, the national grids will be perfectly capable to withstand the additional pressure on consumption levels. Developing technologies including vehicle to grid and on-the go charging along with offshore wind power and solar power gains will ensure that the grid can provide sufficient levels of electricity for vehicle charging.
Are there any incentives available to help reduce the cost of purchasing an Electric Vehicle?
Yes, both the UK and Irish governments offer grants to those purchasing new electric vehicles and also offer supports to reduce the costs associated with installing home charging stations. The grants are subject to certain terms and conditions. In addition Electric Vehicle drivers will pay a lower level of road tax. There is a zero rate of road tax on Battery Electric Vehicles for private drivers in the UK and drivers of plug-in hybrids will pay a lower rate of tax than those driving petrol or diesel powered vehicles.