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What’s it like to own an electric car?

With a significant growth in the amount of electric vehicles registered in the UK, we thought we’d let you know exactly what it’s like to have your own EV – so you can decide whether you want to join the 25,000 users already on the roads. From driving and running one to accessible charging points, we cover all the aspects involved in owning an electric car.

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Renault Zoe / Photo Credit: werner hillebrand-hansen via flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

What are electric cars like to drive?

One of the most important queries from those considering an electric vehicle is how it actually drives – as it is considerably different to petrol and diesel operated cars. You can expect a much smoother drive with electric counterparts, regardless of what brand or model you are driving. Because they are much less reliant on complex engine components in order to function, the battery operating the vehicle provides a smooth, pleasant drive that is noticeably different from normal cars. EV’s are also much quieter and have impressive acceleration, making driving one an enjoyable alternative.

How do I charge my electric car?

There are three main areas where you will have to charge your electric vehicle – at home, at work, and while on the roads. Thankfully, the rapid growth in the use of electric vehicles means that there has also been an increase in the number of charging points available nationwide. There are currently 8,298 electric car charging points across the UK, with 1056 of these providing rapid charge, and numbers increasing by the month.

Electric car charging at work

To charge your car at work, a charging point must be installed. It’s important to discuss this with the site landlord, to enquire as to whether the site has the right size and area capabilities to allow a charging point to be installed. Many businesses can apply for a Department for Transportation Plugged in Places grant, which allows a major discount on the installation fee of a charging point.

Electric car charging at home

Most EV owners charge their cars at home, as they can gain a long lasting charge at a very low cost. Depending on your specific vehicle, estimates come in at around £5 or less a week, based on 3 full charges. This amounts to less than £300 a year to keep your EV running.

Installation costs for a dedicated charging unit can reach around £1000, however grants are available to get these free of charge, depending on the supplier. It is also important to ensure that you install the correct charging unit for your specific vehicle.

Electric car charging on the road

EV charging points are growing significantly in the UK, with more than 8,000 charging points at more than 3,000 electric car charging stations throughout the country – so you don’t have to worry about running out of battery. Though a fifth of all charging points are located in London, the remaining 80% are distributed evenly across the rest of the country. There are 4 types of chargers available to use.

  • Slow chargers (3kw or less) – 6-8 hours
  • Fast Chargers (7kw-22kw) – 4-6 hours
  • Rapid AC Chargers (43kw) – 30-60 minutes
  • Rapid DC Chargers (50kw) – 30 minutes

More than 50% of all charging points are fast chargers, with significantly less being rapid AC/DC chargers. Though many cars are compatible with more than one type of charger, some will only support certain charging speeds. Make sure you check your vehicle’s manual to find out which charging speeds are suitable for your specific vehicle.

What are the running costs of an EV?

Running costs are relatively low, especially when compared to petrol and diesel cars. You can expect to pay between £3 – £5 for slow and fast charges, up to £8 for a rapid charge, and nothing on road tax due to low emissions. There is also no congestion charge for EV’s when travelling through London.

Pros & Cons of owning an electric car

So, what are the positives and negatives of owning, running and driving an electric car?

Pros:

  • Over 8,000 charging points in the UK with regular additions up and down the country
  • Eco-friendly answer to long and short distance travelling
  • Some models can maintain a 100 mile range
  • Very low running costs

Cons:

  • Initial costs for EV’s can be very high
  • Battery can deplete by using various internal gadgets
  • Some people may not have the right facilities for overnight charging

Should I buy an electric car?

Whether or not you buy an electric vehicle is very much dependent on your circumstances. One of the most important factors is ensuring that you are able to charge it. If you do not have the right facilities at home or your workplace, then running an EV will be very difficult.

The distance you normally drive will also play a factor when deciding if an electric car is right for you. Dependent on the range that your chosen model produces, it is worth working out how far you commute to work as well as how often you want to take trips that will exceed the limit of one charge.

If you can properly accommodate an electric vehicle and it seems suitable for your lifestyle, then joining the 25,000 motorists who have already gone green might be the right decision for you.

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