An electric car, or electric vehicle (EV), is a car propelled by one or several electric motors, using energy stored in a battery. People have become more interested in EVs recently, with the climate changing faster than ever and petrol prices becoming higher.
Electric cars have very distinct advantages and drawbacks. Depending on where you live, your lifestyle and the size of your wallet, an EV might be either a good solution for you or just not worth buying at all. Whatever you decide, we recommend weighing all pros and cons beforehand so that you don’t get a vehicle that brings you more problems than benefits.
Should I Switch to an EV?
In terms of climate and environment, switching to an electric vehicle is always a great idea. Unlike regular cars that use petrol or diesel, EVs do not produce harmful emissions. These days, more and more countries are worried about the environment and the amount of carbon dioxide we produce. The UK has plans to end the sale of new diesel, petrol, and hybrid cars by 2035.
By 2050, the United Kingdom wants to achieve net-zero emissions across all vehicles. This might seem too far away today, but people are slowly starting to drop their diesel and petrol cars and buy EVs instead. You may have noticed this tendency even in your own circle of friends.
Surely, there are many things to consider if you’re seriously thinking about buying an electric car. Whether an EV would be a good deal for you now depends on your budget, lifestyle, location, and other factors. Frankly, there are no downsides to EVs other than their high price and low mileage, but let’s discuss electric cars in more depth.
When Does an EV Make Sense?
An EV is a straight swap alternative for your petrol or diesel-fuelled car. Getting an electric car makes sense if you only drive a few miles to work every day and back home. You won’t even need to charge your car more than once a week if you travel 40 miles per day or less.
Also, you should be able to charge up at home, so ideally, you’ll need a garage (or at least a driveway) so that you can plug in your car whenever you are at home. Not only is it more convenient to have your car charged right at home, but it would also cost you less. When you’re out on the road, charging a 64kWh battery will cost you around £10, considering the average kWh cost of electricity is 15.5p. That’d be enough for you to drive 250 miles.
The benefit of charging your car at a public place is that you can just leave it there and not pay for parking. But if the charger isn’t working, you might need to drive for miles until you find another place to plug in your EV.
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What Are EVs Like to Drive?
It is quite enjoyable to drive an electric car, even if you’re not quite familiar with them. Due to the fact that an electric motor delivers the maximum force the moment it starts moving, EVs feel very quick, which is different from regular cars.
Some of the top EVs on the market, like the Tesla Model S, go from 0 to 62 mph in only 2.5 seconds, making this model one of the fastest accelerating cars in the world. Other electric cars that are more affordable take 10-11 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph, but it still feels faster than it would in a petrol or diesel car.
How Much Does an Electric Car Cost?
Electric cars are certainly expensive. They cost more because battery packs are currently costly to manufacturers. For instance, a Vauxhall Corsa-e is £5,000 more expensive than the same non-electric model, Vauxhall Corsa.
That’s why some manufacturers offer nice deals to EV buyers. Vauxhall, for example, offers to cover all electricity costs for the first 30,000 miles. Besides, a battery pack used to be responsible for two-third of an EV’s cost, whereas it now makes up only 30%.
In addition, battery packs tend to deteriorate slower than expected, and that was one of the reasons why many car buyers refused to get an EV a few years ago. It turns out, EVs manage to retain their value better than regular cars, not to mention Teslas, which hold their value extremely well.
There is also the so-called Plug-In Car Grant that was designed to promote electric cars in the United Kingdom. In total, EV buyers are able to claim up to £2,500 off the car’s cost, but the grant only applies to those EVs that cost under £35,000.
What Are the Running Costs of an Electric Car?
Although EVs are quite costly, their running costs are lower than those of a petrol or diesel car. Of course, electricity costs may vary, but charging an EV at home is generally way cheaper than a regular car. Additionally, you wouldn’t have to pay road tax during the first year of your EV ownership.
If you have an opportunity to get an electric vehicle as your company car, the Benefit-in-Kind tax would only be 1%, compared to 14% on vehicles producing over 50g/km carbon emissions.
When it comes to maintenance costs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how little an EV needs. You won’t need to replace oils or filters; you won’t have any problems with transmission or turbocharges because there are no turbocharges in an EV. Electric motors have proven to be pretty reliable, so basically, all you’ll have to do is check your brakes regularly and fill up the windshield washer fluid.
As for battery packs, they usually have a warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles, so there’s very little to worry about. Some electric cars come with leased batteries, which means that you’ll need to replace the battery pack only if necessary.
If you do need to change your battery pack, keep in mind that a replacement might cost you a little fortune: from £4,900 for small 40kWh batteries to over £9,000 for bigger ones (80.8kWh), used in Teslas.
But then again, EV owners generally remain pretty happy with their purchase and don’t complain about the running costs.
How Far Can Electric Cars Travel Per Charge?
It is true that EVs might be a little less convenient than regular cars running on petrol or diesel. The former generally have lower mileage, and the process of recharging takes longer, too.
Mid-priced electric cars can go for around 200 miles until they need to be recharged, while the more expensive ones like Tesla S Plaid or Mercedes EQS can achieve 479 and 520 miles on a single charge, respectively.
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How Quickly Can Electric Cars Recharge?
The fact that EVs need to be charged more often probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal if there were enough charging stations all around the country and if charging was quicker.
In the UK, there are over 40,000 changing points, but not all are working all the time, and some chargers are more reliable than others. Ultra-rapid 350kW chargers are getting installed all over the country. They allow EVs like Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Porsche Taycan to charge from 10% to 80% in a little less than 20 minutes.
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Other cars charge up to 80% in half an hour or even longer (up to 36 minutes). However, it doesn’t feel that long if you’re at a pub or a supermarket because charging stations are often located right nearby.
If you’re charging your EV at home, the power supply will be slower, but the car spends many hours in the garage or on the driveway anyway. So why not charge it up in the meantime? When you’re purchasing an electric car, you might be offered to install a home charging wall box, which will be able to recharge your EV from flat in 5-12 hours, depending on how big the battery is.
Pros & Cons of an Electric Car
Like any other type of car, EVs have their benefits and drawbacks. These are the main pros and cons that people take into account when deciding whether they need to switch to an electric car.
Low Operating Expenses
Electricity costs less than petrol or diesel, and it doesn’t even matter where you prefer to charge your EV – at home or at a public charging station, the running costs of an electric car never exceed those of a regular car.
In terms of maintenance costs, EVs are also winning. Electric cars are pretty simple machines - and very reliable, too. So, you won’t have to be worried about turbochargers, filters or oils. An electric car battery does need to be changed from time to time, but you can definitely go 8-10 years without the need to replace it.
Being ultra-low emission vehicles, EVs offer great tax savings. If you buy an electric car for less than £40,000, you won’t need to pay road tax. If yours costs more than that, you’ll be charged £340 each month until your car is 5 years old.
You are lucky if you live in London, as EVs get free entry into the London low emissions zone. Hopefully, more low emission zones will be introduced across the United Kingdom in the following years.
Good for the Environment
It is incredible how many dangerous emissions petrol, diesel and hybrid cars exhaust into the air. It is actually considered one of the reasons why the climate is getting warmer. Electric cars could be a great solution for those who are worried about climate change, as EVs reduce pollution and are generally way less harmful to humans and the planet.
Compared to diesel and petrol cars, the price of EVs is significantly higher. This is because battery packs remain costly to the carmakers, and an electric car battery needs to be replaced at least once in a decade.
In addition, insurance costs for EVs are often higher, too, because there is no long-term data on repair costs available to insurers. But the more people buy electric cars, the lower insurance costs will become.
Most electric vehicles can travel up to 120 miles on a single charge, whereas petrol-powered cars are able to achieve 300 miles. Surely, some premium EVs also reach 300 miles per charge, but not everybody can afford them.
The low mileage shouldn’t bother you if you don’t often leave town, but if you’re willing to take longer trips, you’ll have to plan them in advance. The good thing is that the UK's charging infrastructure is developing and improving, so you can find an available charge point in all motorway services.
Charging at Home Is Complicated
The most convenient way to charge an EV is to plug it in at home. But first, you need a driveway or a garage so that your car is sitting right near your house. Second, it takes up to 12 hours to fully charge your electric car. Third, this results in a higher utility bill, but it's still not as high as the running costs of a petrol car.
Are Electric Cars the Future?
This is a serious question; even though you contribute to the world’s enthusiasm for going green and lowering toxic emissions by owning an electric car, they might be the best solution and alternative to what we’re used to.
We are only starting to step into the new era of EVs, so there are still many things to improve. The amount of time that it takes to charge an electric vehicle, the low mileage, the expensiveness – all of that needs to be taken under consideration when you decide whether to buy an EV.
You also need to think about how slowly the big car manufacturers are taking over the industry. BMW and Audi have only released one electric car model each so far, Ford’s first EV, Mustang Mach-E, has just been introduced, and Mercedes’s electric vehicle is about to go on sale. Tesla is certainly way ahead of other big carmakers, having released their EV back in 2012.
This is why it might be a little too early to guess whether electric cars are the future. Today, many experts claim that the real future for our vehicles is hydrogen. Hydrogen cars run on pure water and are filled up within just a few minutes. Hydrogen is turned into electricity powering the motor, so in some way, a hydrogen car is just a special case of an EV.
Of course, hydrogen cars are nowhere near the popularity that electric cars have already gained. There are about ten hydrogen-filling stations in the country, which makes having a hydrogen car very problematic. Besides, they’re even more expensive than electric cars, but mass adoption would bring that down quickly.
To sum up, as much as EVs are booming now, it’s still a question of whether they are the future for our cars.
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