Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular as people are becoming more environmentally conscious and looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Our experts have put together the ultimate guide to electric cars in the UK, including the different types available, how the charging system works, and the main benefits of electric cars over their fuel-powered alternatives.
What is an electric vehicle?
Put simply, an electric vehicle is a vehicle that does not run on fuel, instead operating through the use of a large battery that powers one or more electric motors.
Batter-electric vehicles (BEVs) are the most environmentally friendly option as they do not emit any tailpipe emissions. They are powered solely by electricity, which is stored in rechargeable batteries. BEVs can be charged using a standard electrical outlet, a Level 2 charging station, or a DC fast charging station. The range of BEVs varies, with some models able to travel over 300 miles on a single charge.
Hybrid electric vehicle
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. The electric motor powers the car at low speeds, while the fuel engine kicks in at higher speeds or when more power is needed. HEVs do not need to be plugged in, as they recharge their batteries through regenerative braking. They have a longer range than BEVs but still emit tailpipe emissions.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) can operate on both electricity and fuel. They have a smaller battery than BEVs, which allows them to operate on fuel when the battery is exhausted. PHEVs can be charged using a standard electrical outlet or a Level 2 charging station. They have a more extended range than BEVs but still emit tailpipe emissions when operating on fuel.
Charging your Electric Vehicle
Many people consider the need to charge an electric vehicle as a concern or disadvantage. Electric vehicle drivers have three main options when it comes to charging their cars:
Home charging: The most convenient option is to install a charging point at home. This allows you to charge your car overnight, ensuring it is fully charged and ready to go in the morning.
Public charging: With over 30,000 public charging points across the UK, it is easy to charge your electric car when you’re out and about. These can be found in car parks, supermarkets, and other public places.
Rapid charging: These points are designed to charge your electric car quickly, usually in around 30 minutes. These are located at motorway service stations and other strategic locations.
The Benefits of an Electric Car
Electric cars have a significantly lower carbon footprint than fuel-powered cars. BEVs produce no tailpipe emissions and are powered solely by electricity, which is becoming increasingly green as more renewable energy sources are being utilized. HEVs and PHEVs emit fewer emissions than gasoline-powered cars but still have a higher carbon footprint than BEVs.
Lower running & maintenance costs
A full charge will allow for approximately 200 miles of distance and cost £8-12 if charging at home. In contrast, driving 200 miles in a petrol or diesel car will cost around £26-32.
With fewer mechanical components in an electric vehicle, there are significantly fewer servicing and maintenance costs. Although an electric car is subject to many of the same tests as a regular vehicle, such as the brakes, horn, lights, and seatbelts, the inner workings of an electric vehicle are less complex than a combustion engine and so servicing is much less detailed and takes less time.
The UK government has introduced a range of incentives to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.
- Plug-in Car Grant: This provides up to £2,500 off the cost of a new electric car.
- Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme: This provides up to £350 towards the cost of installing a home charging point.
- Zero Emission Vehicle Tax Exemption: Electric cars are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty, providing significant savings over petrol or diesel vehicles.