The Must-Knows When Looking to Buy an Electric Vehicle
A lot of people are now preparing to make the switch to electric cars as the government’s 2030 deadline looms nearer. To be clear, reaching 2030 doesn’t mean that no one can now drive petrol or diesel cars, but it means that no new petrol or diesel cars will be sold in the UK from that year onwards, and from 2035 there won’t even be any new hybrids.
Assuming this ruling stays in place, it means that millions and millions more people will, in the coming years, have to face up to the fact that sooner or later they will need to buy an electric car, SUV, van, or pickup truck. This is the perfect time, then, for people to become aware of the things one must know when looking to buy an electric vehicle (EV). For today’s blog, we’ve prepared some key ideas below.
Know the Costs and Incentives
At the time of writing, the government in the UK has decided to axe the plug-in car grant for private vehicle buyers. While there may still be some grants available for those who are buying commercial or fleet vehicles, as well as motorcycles and wheelchair accessible vehicles, the grant for passenger cars is over. Therefore, you should know that you’ll most likely be footing the entire bill yourself when you buy your new EV.
As things stand, you should fully expect to have to pay somewhere in the region of £30,000 for an EV, possibly a bit less than that, but it depends what you’re after. The general rule remains that EVs are a lot more expensive than petrol or diesel cars, or even hybrids. If you’re looking to make a switch but spend less, then you might first consider switching to a hybrid.
The next key thing you need to know and understand is how and where you’re going to charge your new EV on a regular basis. If you have already installed a level 2 home charger in your garage or securely on your drive in anticipation of buying an EV, then you’re basically all set, but here are some more detailed considerations:
The best option for charging at home is a level 2 charging wall box setup, either installed in the garage, or securely on the driveway as we mentioned above. These offer the most practical charging speeds (25-40 miles of range added per hour) that ensure you can keep your car at the optimum charge by plugging the car in when you get home and setting it to charge overnight.
If you haven’t installed a level 2 charging solution and are planning to plug in and use the level 1 factory-issued charger, then it will work but your charging times will be very slow, perhaps just 4 miles of range added for every hour of charging. If you’re buying a plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV), then a level 1 charger is sufficient, but if you’re buying a high-capacity (more than 40kWh) EV, then you have to get a level 2 charger at home if possible.
If a home charger isn’t an option for you because you have no space or live in a block of flats, etc, then you need to be clear on what public charging options you have in your area. The good news is that public chargers are all either level 2 AC chargers, or level 3 DC fast chargers (see below), so timing shouldn’t be an issue. Some people have a charging point near their workplace that they can plug into and charge the vehicle through their workday, for example.
If you have no home solution, and your public charging infrastructure is very limited, then it’s probably best you hold off a little longer on purchasing your EV until your council has had more time to install more charging stations.
If you’re going to be using your new EV on longer journeys, ensure that your typical routes are well furnished with DC fast charging stations. The main motorway and trunk routes are already quite well kitted out with fast chargers, so most will be well covered for their planned longer trips.
An additional point when it comes to charging is knowing how to maintain an effective charge without doing premature damage to the battery and its chemical balance. For example, overusing DC fast chargers can lead to excessive degradation of the battery. The slower you can charge, the better it is for your battery health.
It is also recommended on most EV models that you neither charge the EV to 100%, nor let it fully discharge to nearly 0 percent on a regular basis. Once again, charging it from near zero to 100 percent and then discharging is actually quite bad for these batteries, contrary to popular battery wisdom. For everyday driving, keep the charge around 20-80 percent, and then charge to full only when you’re about to undertake a much longer journey.
The given range of your prospective new EV is arguably one of the most important bits of information that you need when you’re looking to buy an EV. You must carefully consider how you’re going to use this car, what kind of daily mileage you’ll need to cover, your driving style, and so on. Most new EVs at the time of writing offer at least 150 miles of range in a single battery charge. Higher-end models offer between 220 and 300, and top-end models offer more than 300, sometimes even more than 400 miles.
If this EV is to become your daily runaround car, then opt for a model with lower mileage, perhaps 150-175 miles and you can save some money. Alternatively, you could opt for a PHEV that delivers about 20-30 miles of pure electric range — often enough for school runs, errands, etc. — but will switch to petrol when it needs to recharge the battery. You can save a lot of fuel on your daily needs, but still have a long-range petrol car for distance driving.
Torque and Acceleration
Many electric cars surprise their owners with how quick they are to accelerate. Because the electric motor doesn’t have to wait for oxygen and fuel mixes to ignite and whatnot, it essentially provides instant torque to the wheels, which is the reason why some high-end EVs have 0-60 mph acceleration times that could rival a top Italian sports car.
Taking the time to test drive the car before buying is a good idea, so that you can get used to the new sensations that come with driving an electric vehicle compared to driving a conventional petrol car.
Finally, you should know that while EVs are more expensive to buy, they are actually cheaper to maintain because they have so much fewer moving parts. There’s no engine oil, no filters, no belts, no hoses, no fuel injection system…no engine altogether! Your maintenance schedule will be a lot lighter, and your top concern will be ensuring that the battery is in good health.