Electric vehicles 101: FAQs

Written by AMT Team

28 October, 2019

Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly common sight on UK roads, with more manufacturers offering electric, plug-in hybrid and alternate fuel variants now than ever before. This is because vehicle emissions have become a central focus over the last year, with the government looking to eliminate the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

Electric car sales have continued to rise in recent years, with sales of pure electric vehicles increasing by 14% year on year in 2018. New registrations of plug-in cars rose from 3,500 in 2013 to over 227,000 by August 2019, with many top manufacturers planning to introduce even more EVs into their model range. In 2019, the two most popular ultra-low emission models in the UK are the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3.

Despite this increase in popularity, many motorists are reluctant to make the change to a plug-in model, as they have questions around the cost, feasibility and logistics of owning an electric car. To help you decide whether an electric car is right for you, we’ve put together our ultimate guide that answers all the questions you’ll have around electric vehicle (EV) ownership.

What is an electric vehicle and how does it work?

Electric vehicles (EVs) are cars that are fitted with a battery pack connected to an electric motor. Unlike hybrid or hydrogen fuel-cell cars, a pure electric vehicle will always need to be plugged into the mains in order to recharge the battery. An EV needs to be plugged into a source of electricity at home or at a public point in order to charge.

EVs come in all shapes and sizes, from small hatchbacks to sporty SUVs. Some manufacturers offer electric versions of familiar models, while others are all-new vehicles specially engineered to run on electricity. There are two kinds of plug-in EVs: pure electric models (BEVs), and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) that transition from running on electricity to being powered by the gasoline engine once battery power is depleted.

How much do electric vehicles cost?

Electric vehicles are generally considered to be less expensive to run that traditionally-powered cars because they’re cheaper to repair and fuel. When it comes to the purchase price, electric cars vary widely just like their diesel and petrol counterparts. Generally, top end models like the Tesla Model S start from £65,000, while entry-level models like the Nissan Leaf can be bought for around £30,000.

EVs typically have between five and eight years’ warranty on the electric motor and battery components, depending on the manufacturer. In addition, the UK has announced new regulations that means EVs are exempt from certain taxes and levies, as well as the congestion charge in London. Pure battery electric vehicles are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty, which is calculated based on the CO2 emissions of a car.

What are electric cars like to drive?

In many ways, driving an electric car is just like driving a petrol or diesel model, as manufacturers have worked to make sure the experience is as familiar as possible. But instead of having a petrol or diesel engine, plus a gearbox and a complete exhaust system, an EV has an electric motor, a simple transmission and a battery. They don’t have manual or automatic gearboxes – instead they usually have a single speed transmission as maximum torque is on tap instantly. EVs will also make far less noise than diesel or petrol models.

Are electric vehicles difficult to maintain?

Generally, EVs are as easy to maintain as conventional vehicles, although it is recommended that you take them to the dealership for servicing rather than a local mechanic. Electric vehicles are subject to the same safety testing as petrol and diesel vehicles, as well as further standards when it comes to preventing electrical faults. Both electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will require minimal scheduled maintenance to their electrical systems, which will be addressed during MOTs and annual services as standard.

EVs often require less maintenance than conventional vehicles due to their lack of liquids like oil and transmission fluid, and fewer moving parts. When it comes to the battery, they are designed for extended life but will wear out eventually. Most manufacturers currently offer an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty for their batteries for maximum usage.

How long do electric cars take to charge?

The time it takes to charge an electric vehicle will vary by model and charger, but it can take as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. A typical electric car with a 60kWh battery takes just under eight hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point, and you can add up to 100 miles of range in under 35 minutes with a 50kW rapid charger. Generally, the bigger your car’s battery and the slower the charging point, the longer it will take for the battery to charge to full.

How far can electric cars travel?

The distance varies between manufacturers, but most EVs are currently capable of about 100 miles of driving before they need to be recharged. Plug-in hybrids may drive for 10-50 miles using only electricity before they start switching to gas, and then can drive for a further 300 miles. The range of 100% battery-powered cars is improving due to huge advances in technology, with some of the latest models already capable of covering 200 miles or more on a single charge.

Just like a diesel or petrol car, how you drive an electric car will affect how far it can go with a single charge. Extreme weather can reduce miles on an electric car’s range, as hot or cold temperatures will impact the efficiency of the battery. It’s important to remember that most EV drivers won’t drive the car’s full range before charging it again, just as they wouldn’t drive until they completely ran out of gas.

What are the downsides to electric cars?

It’s important to look at the disadvantages of an electric vehicle before deciding whether you should get one, as buying a new car is a huge investment. EVs generally cost more to buy outright than conventional cars and despite significant advancements when it comes to charging, they may not suit some drivers’ lifestyles. EV owners need to have ready access to an outlet and parking spot for overnight charging, with planning when and where the car needs recharging a constant part of responsible ownership. Plug-in hybrids can be a good way to solve this problem.

Some of the key questions you need to ask yourself before deciding whether an electric car is right for you are:

 

  • How many miles do I drive each day?
  • Do I have regular access to charging points at home or at work?
  • How much would the electricity costs be?
  • Do I need a faster charging option?
  • How often am I likely to travel beyond the electric range?

 

If you like the concept of owning an electric vehicle but aren’t sure you can afford the increased purchase price, you may want to consider leasing rather than buying. To find out more about personal contract hire, read our handy guide.

What are the best electric cars on the market?

If you’ve come to the conclusion that you want to switch to electric, the next question you need to ask yourself is which model is best for you. To help make this decision easier, we’ve compiled a list of the three best EVs on sale in 2019.

Audi e-Tron

The fully electric e-Tron utilises a 95kWh battery pack to give a range of 248 miles, and can be charged from 0-80% in around 8.5 hours from an 11kW charger. Rapid charging at a service station takes around 45 minutes, and a 150kW charger would take just 30 minutes.

 

Nissan Leaf

The 40kWh Leaf has a 0-60mph time of around eight seconds, while the 62kWh model takes a second less. It has a range of 143 miles, and takes six hours to charge with a 7kW fast charger and just one hour to charge with a 43-50kW rapid model.

 

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar’s all-electric SUV has four-wheel drive provided by two electric motors, which claim 395bhp and take the I-Pace from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds. The 90kWh battery pack gives an official range of 298 miles on a single charge, which it can achieve in 13 hours via a Jaguar wallbox.

At AMT, we’re committed to providing a service that’s tailored to you. If you want to hear more about plug-in hybrids or want to find your ideal electric lease vehicle, contact our dedicated team today to discuss your requirements on 0113 387 4241.

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