Guide to Electric cars – the need to knows


Electric cars are becoming far more mainstream. In 2018, nearly 60,000 plug-in cars were purchased by Brits in the UK and this trend is on the up. As rules are introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities, it is anticipated that the next 24 months will see the popularity of battery vehicles increase and prices become more in line with petrol and diesel vehicles.

But what is an electric car and is it right for you?

This guide aims to explain the jargon, bust some myths and provide you will all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Firstly, what is an electric car and how does it work?

An electric cars run at least partially on electricity. Unlike conventional vehicles that use a petrol or diesel-powered engine, electric vehicles use an electric motor powered by electricity from batteries or a fuel cell.

The electric current and motor generates force just like a normal engine. The biggest difference is that they don’t use gears and don’t have a clutch, just acceleration and braking. When you brake, the momentum of the car regenerates the battery giving you free power when you slow down.

What are the different types of electric vehicles available?

Not all electric vehicles are the same. You may have heard the term hybrid or plug-in. They are all built slightly differently and come with their own jargon. Below is a brief summary of each:

Alternatively fuelled vehicle = This is any car that doesn’t use conventional petrol or diesel engines.

EV = Electric Vehicle. Refers to any car that runs solely on electric power. The batteries are charged by plugging the car into a power source. EVs are exempt from road tax and London congestion charges.

Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) or Hybrid = A hybrid has a regular petrol or diesel engine, plus an electric motor and batteries. The electric power is generated by the engine through regenerative braking technology which captures the energy that’s usually lost under braking. As a result, you never need to charge these cars. However they are unable to go far on electric-power only.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) = PHEVs work in the same way as regular hybrids, but they need their electric batteries charged from an external power source. They have a greater range than regular EVs as they tend to have larger batteries. You are able to typically drive further at a higher speed on pure electric power in a PHEV. They are also exempt from the London congestion charge.

Hydrogen electric vehicle = These cars mix hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to produce electric power. They are very rare at present, because they're expensive and there are limited operational hydrogen charging stations in the UK.

‘Extended Range’ electric vehicles (E-REV) = these vehicles can go even further on electric power only.

What are the benefits of having an electric vehicle?

Electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles provide many advantages over petrol and diesel alternatives. Here are just a few:

  1. Save money on fuel – charging an electric car is far cheaper than filling a fuel tank
  2. Environmentally friendly – zero tailpipe emissions
  3. Reduced or exempt from road tax
  4. Reduced noise levels
  5. Less wear and tear – due to less moving parts

What is it like to drive an electric car?

Generally speaking, electric cars are great to drive. People are often surprised at the power even small cars offer when pulling away because there is no clutch and power is instant.

It can feel strange not hearing any engine noise at first, but ultimately they are very easy to drive, very capable and you’ll soon be enjoying the peace!

Who are electric cars for?

EVs are not for everyone, yet! If you do a lot of long runs, or unpredictable journeys then a plug-in hybrid might be more suitable than an EV.

However, for people who commute shorter distances, and/or use their cars as a run-around, they can be perfect.

The higher end models are becoming better at longer runs so they could still be an option for all but the most drivers. When choosing, consider the mileage you do and the types of journeys you make as this will help inform your decision.

What is the driving range for an electric vehicle?

One of the main decision making stigmas when it comes to electric cars is the fear of running out of battery while driving. Since launching, manufacturers have developed and refined the technology, meaning most electric vehicles are now capable of covering over 200 miles between charges, making this far less of an issue than it once was.

How do you charge an electric vehicle?

You can charge an electric car or plug-in hybrid through a mains socket, a specially-fitted home wallbox, or at a public charging station on the road. There are 3 types of chargers, slow / fast / rapid. The higher a charger’s kW rating, the faster it will charge your car.

Charging times completely depend on the size of the car and how big the battery is. The typical charge time for pure-electric cars using a standard UK home wall socket is between six and eight hours. PHEVs and E-REVs take much less time to charge because they have smaller batteries. Most new pure EVs can also use rapid charging points that can top up the batteries to 80% capacity in around 30 minutes.

  1. Mains charging = You can charge most electric cars with a standard three-pin plug in a mains socket, although this will take much longer than using a dedicated charging point.
  2. Wallbox or home charger = You can get a home charging station for your electric car. These are either a slow 3kW charger or a more expensive fast 7kW charger. A 3kW charger will give a full charge in approx. 6-8 hours, and a 7kW unit will take 3-4 hours.
  3. Public chargers = These are found at the roadside, in car parks, at motorway service stations, at tourist spots and hotels. They are usually fast or rapid chargers. Prices can vary.

There is no doubt the EV is the future, being part of the answer to many of our environmental worries. And they offer a smooth, powerful and easy mode of transport. Blossom Vehicle Leasing offer a full range of electric vehicles. Get in touch with the team to find out more about the offers available.

Call us on 01242 500060 for a FREE no obligation quote.

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