Electric cars, Electric Vehicles or EVs for short, whatever you know them referred as, are definitely becoming a hot topic of interest and a growing trend in the UK and globally, as people transition into a more environmentally friendly and sustainable means of transport. However, it is also no secret that there are still many uncertainities surrounding EVs and it is still an ongoing process to better them. This means that many people are still unsure about electric vehicles (EVs), from general queries on what they actually are, the differences from traditional petrol/ diesel vehicles, the distance they can travel, costs, batteries or even the benefits they can offer.
That's why we have put together a handy guide, from what types of EVs are available, diminishing any range anxiety queries and any costs involved, to help you along your EV journey. Keep reading the blog to find out more and why not check out our other blogs in our EV series!
What types of EVs are there?
Lets start with what types of EVs there actually are. You may think that an EV is just that – an EV; however there are actually a few different types available so it’s worth understanding a little about how they differ. Our brief description should help you with the basics:
Battery-powered Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Also known as “Pure Electric”, these cars are 100% powered by an electric battery and are charged by plugging in the car to an EV charge point at home, at work or on the public network. Fully-charged, these types of EVs commonly have a journey range of between 80-150 miles however this is increasing and some of the latest models can now cover over 200 miles on a single charge.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A PHEV combines some of the benefits of an EV but is backed up by a conventional internal-combustion-engine (ICE) that is powered by either petrol or diesel. Unlike Hybrid vehicles, a PHEV can be plugged in to charge the battery and usually has an EV range of around 30 miles before it switches over to its ICE.
Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV)
An EREV is very similar to a BEV; however it has a small internal motor that helps to charge the battery when it’s being driven. This motor runs on either petrol or diesel and can help extend the range of the battery by around 80 miles.
A hybrid isn’t really an EV in the same way as the previous three types. For a start they can’t be plugged-in and instead rely on a small integrated battery and an electric motor to enhance the efficiency of a petrol or diesel engine. This enables you to achieve greater fuel economy. The actual “EV range” on these types of vehicles is generally very low and is only utilised at low-speeds or when sitting in traffic.
One of the biggest challenges for someone thinking about buying an EV is the driving range of its battery (the equivalent of your fuel tank). In most modern petrol or diesel cars it’s not uncommon to be able to drive 400-500 miles on a full tank. However, the same can’t be said for EV’s….Not yet anyway!
Whilst Plug-in Hybrid EV’s (PHEV) and EV’s with range extenders (EREV) reduce this problem, the reality is that most current 100% Battery-powered EVs (BEV) have a range of about 100-150 miles. That said, this is improving fast and many of the latest models quote ranges of over 200 miles and it’s not uncommon for top-end models to achieve over 300 miles on a full charge.
However, how much charge do you really need? For most, a range of 100 miles will more than meet the needs of around 96% of their journeys made in the UK every year. Why? Well, if you plug in your car and charge at home then you are essentially waking up to a full (albeit smaller) tank every morning - whilst the average journey in the UK is estimated to be less than 10 miles each way. Of course, this doesn’t apply every day or for everyone, however there is an increasing network of public and workplace chargers to help support your needs and these will only get better, faster and more widely available each year.
So, whilst an EV may come with some perceived limitations, even todays models are actually a very viable option – particularly for those who only tend to undertake short journeys or are looking to replace a second car.
Charging your EV
The thought of charging your EV can sound like a challenging task but it isn’t necessarily a problem.
The most common place to charge your car is at home and, although it is possibly not the most convenient way, with the right lead you can even charge it from a standard household socket.
However, it is likely you will soon want something a bit more convenient and robust which is when you might want to consider having a Home Chargepoint installed. The Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) currently offers a grant of up to £500 towards the cost of this subject to meeting certain criteria. More information about this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electric-vehicle-homecharge-scheme-guidance-for-customers-version-21
There is also the option to charge your car on the public network, with charge points situated in many city centres, train stations, car park and retail destinations. There are even some super-fast chargers available on various major routes around the UK that allow you achieve around an 80% charge in less than 30 minutes.
It’s worth noting that whilst most of these are free to use, others charge a small fee and require a membership or pre-registration. Our charge point finder can help you find where these are and who the chargepoint operator is.
Some workplaces now even offer EV charging bays, meaning you can plug-in whilst you work.
In summary, if you have the option to charge at home and aren’t going to drive more than 80 - 100 miles before you return again, then you are unlikely to need to rely too heavily on being able to charge elsewhere. However there is no harm in topping up on your charge when you are away from home if it’s available.
Running Costs, warranties & maintenance
At present, the up-front cost of buying an EV is a little more expensive than a petrol or diesel equivalent. That said, the gap is reducing very quickly and it may only be a few more years until EV’s are actually cheaper.
However, when you consider the total cost of ownership (cost of car, fuel and maintenance) over a 3-5 year period, then the cost of owning an EV vs. a petrol or diesel car can actually be very comparable.
There are a number of variables that can affect how this is worked out. The EV you choose is of course a big factor –and also the amount of miles you drive. Fuelling an EV car is very cheap vs. the price of petrol or diesel when you calculate it on a cost per mile basis but you need to consider the costs of buying, insurance and maintaining the car to make a fully informed financial decision.
In terms of an EV you can expect a similar maintenance and warranty schedule to a traditional petrol or diesel car, however the cost in most cases will be considerably cheaper – especially for 100% battery-powered EVs (BEV) where there is no engine and the number of moving parts are far less.
Hopefully this guide helps shed some light on some of the main queries arising around EVs and aids in your shift to efficient and sustainable driving. If you're still in doubt about whether or not to actually purchase an EV or have any other questions or queries on the subject, why not ask our Community by starting a discussion. Additionally, if you are already and EV expert and have already made the transition to EV, why not check out our new EV tariff or charge point finder via the YourEnergy app from the Google Playstore or Apple App Store