MILLIONS of drivers are hesitant about what type of car they should buy next.
Petrol? Electric? Or hybrid? Which is a combination of both.
The threat of fines and bans in some cities has made diesel as desirable as a cup of cold sick.
One thing for certain is that electric cars are becoming more affordable and the Covid crisis has made us think greener.
For every electrified vehicle sold in Europe in June, there were only 1.7 diesel cars registered.
By 2035, sales of new vehicles with a combustion engine will be banned.
It might even be 2032 if Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, gets his way.
So, the question is: Are you ready to switch to electric now? I’ll keep it simple.
If you don’t have off-street parking, the short answer is No.
If you clock up big miles daily to earn a crust, also No. Ignore all the political claptrap because you still want a diesel.
If you tow heavy things, No again. You still want a diesel.
If you’re rubbish at keeping your phone charged, definitely No.
Zero tailpipe emissions
But if you DO have a driveway, never stray far from your neighbourhood, and you are disciplined, an electric car might be all you need. Especially if it’s a second family car.
It will save you a load of cash in the fullness of time with running costs as low as 2p a mile. And, of course, electric cars are quiet and nippy and don’t have a poo chute.
We can debate all day about where the power for electric cars comes from but the fact they have zero tailpipe emissions and don’t poison the lungs of our little ones is a good start.
The cheapest four-seat electric car on sale today is the Skoda CITIGOe at £17,455, which includes the £3,000 plug-in car grant.
Finance from £229 a month. That’s a little cracker and good for around 162 miles between charges.
If you can afford to spend more, there are lots of models that can easily do 200 miles-plus non-stop, like the Vauxhall Corsa-e.
The kit list in most electric cars is generous, too. But there’s no getting away from the fact that you can’t juice up as quickly or as conveniently as petrol.
So, to repeat the question: Are you ready to wean yourself off petrol and diesel and switch to an electric car?
Or do you go hybrid, a halfway house if you like, which can do electric-only miles around town and longer distances using the petrol/electric combo.
Hopefully our electric car guide will point you in the right direction.
BUYING an electric car also means learning a new language.
EV means electric vehicle, the same as BEV for battery electric vehicle.
PHEV means plug-in hybrid electric vehicle – which is petrol and electric combined – and a mild hybrid has no plug.
Charging speed is measured in kilowatts, which is written as kW.
The lower the kW figure, the slower the charge. A 7kW home charging unit is called an AC charger, alternating current.
A 50kW public rapid charger is a DC charger (direct current) and has a faster electricity flow.
You can also trickle charge at home with a cable with a standard three-pin plug.
Most electric cars come with a Type 2 cable that fits any home wallbox or public charger, and many also have the CCS plug (combined charging system) or CHAdeMO socket that you will need to plug into any rapid charger.
Although most rapid chargers come with the cable tethered into the station.
The battery capacity of a car is measured in kilowatt-hours, kWh.
Now we need to talk about m/kWh – miles per kWh – which is an electric car’s mpg.
It represents the mileage that an EV will do per kWh of battery capacity.
For example, a Renault Zoe has a 52kWh battery.
If the dash readout is showing 3.7 m/kWh, that means it’s doing 192 miles (52 multiplied by 3.7) of range to a charge in your current conditions.
The higher the m/kWh figure, the more efficient a car is.
Heavier, more powerful EVs like the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron will be less efficient. They’ll likely do around 2-2.5m/kWh in normal everyday use.
Still with me? Good.
Because EV jargon is the hard part, electric cars themselves are straightforward and a doddle to drive.
Q) MY petrol car won’t do the official mpg, is it the same for electric cars too?
Yes. It’s still a lab test but the new WLTP test is more reflective of real-world conditions. It also depends on driving style and the weather.
Extreme temperatures impact battery efficiency.
Driving around town hardly uses any range, but motorway driving kills it.
Q) Will the range drop as the battery gets older?
Yes. Age and mileage will see the battery degrade. You can expect around 75 per cent of its as-new driving range after 100,000 miles.
Maintaining the battery properly can help reduce range-loss, so it’s best to keep it topped-up between 20-80 per cent, and only topping up to 100 per cent when needed.
Q) How much does an EV cost to charge?
Most EV drivers do their routine charging at home, where you’ll typically pay around 15p per kWh on a standard domestic tariff.
For a 50kWh battery that means £7 for a full top-up, but you can get it much cheaper by using off-peak or specialist EV tariffs, so it’s not hard to keep the cost of a 50kWh battery charge to under £3.50.
That’s less than 2p per mile on fuel, compared to roughly 14p per mile for a petrol car doing 35mpg.
Public charging is more expensive; expect to pay 30p per kWh on the motorway.
Q) How easy is it to get a home wallbox installed?
Very easy, provided you have off-street parking.
Some car firms provide them for free. But there’s also a government grant available for new and used EV buyers.
Home wallboxes are 3.6kW or 7kW charging speeds.
You will see some chargepoint providers offering 11kW and 22kW but you are unlikely to have the three-phase electrical supply needed to support them.
Q) How much choice is there out there?
Lots. All the EVs listed below are in showrooms now and there are another 30 new models coming in the next year.
Prices from £17k for a city car to £140k for a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
Q) Can you take an electric car through a car wash?
Yes. You can drive it through a car wash or use a jet wash just as you would with any car.
Q) Can I plug it in when it’s raining?
Yes. And you can leave it charging while it continues to rain.
Just try to avoid getting any water directly on the contact pins of the socket or cable, but otherwise it’s perfectly safe.
Q) How much does it cost to insure?
Electric car insurance premiums have come down in recent years and they are now roughly on a par with comparable petrol cars.
Q) Are electric cars safe in a crash?
Yes. All electric and hybrid cars are tested to exactly the same crash safety standards as petrol and diesel cars.
Q) Do electric cars need special tyres?
Nope. When the time comes you can pick a set of tyres from your local tyre shop just as you would for any car.
Q) Do I need to get an EV serviced regularly?
Most have longer service intervals than a petrol car and as they have far fewer parts they cost less to maintain as well.
Q) How else will an EV save me money?
There is no road tax, and no C-Charge in central London for private buyers.
Huge benefit in kind tax advantages for company car users.
Basically, if you pay “BiK” and can live with an EV, you’d be daft not to.
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