Top 8 FAQs on Buying and Running an Electric Car

Monday, December 11, 2017

electric vehicles FAQSA question that is asked more seriously and frequently these days is ‘should I make the switch and buy an electric car?’ That simple question in itself brings around a further array of questions. People are keen to become ‘greener’ and the idea of zero emissions sounds brilliant, and if it saves them money then so much the better. But they are not so keen to be green if it is to the detriment of their lifestyle. For example, someone who travels a lot for work is going to be massively impacted if his/her new electric car runs out of juice after 50 miles of travelling.

Back in February this year we wrote a blog about what to consider when buying an electric vehicle. Even though written less than a year ago, things have progressed and some issues have been resolved. However, the issue for people living in terraced houses with no driveway still remains. Trailing cables across pavements as people charge their cars overnight is not viable.

Here are the top 8 questions people ask about electric cars:

1.Will it save me money to run it?

The short answer is yes. To drive 100 miles in an electric car would probably cost you between £3 and £4, depending on your electricity tariff. In a fuel car this could be £15 or more depending on fuel consumption and whether you are driving round town or on motorways. Electric vehicles are also currently exempt from road tax in the UK.

2.How many miles can I drive before needing to re-charge?

This depends on which electric car you decide to buy. The range of these cars is being improved dramatically, as an example, e-Golf’s official range is 186 miles, so 130 miles should be possible in real-world driving. This makes it a very viable option for commuters and round town. The Tesla Model S, can achieve over 280 miles before needing to be re-charged. However, this is reflected in the price tag as they cost between £60,000 and £127,000.

3.How long does it take to re-charge?

This is a question that worries many people, as who wants to sit at motorway services for hours whilst the car re-charges when on a long journey. The time it takes to charge depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (Nissan LEAF 30kWh) takes 4 hours to charge from empty with a 7kW home charging point.

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. These facts absolve the fears of most people who assumed they needed to be charged overnight.

4.Are they still more expensive to buy than a fuel car?

Prices range from around £18,000 up to over £100,000, so it really depends on your budget. Finance options have improved recently making them very much more affordable. For example in the lower range, a Renault Zoe that would cost you £18,745 with the lowest spec, would be around £200 per month on Finance. Government grants enable a 35% reduction off the price tag when buying a new electric vehicle.

5.How long will the battery last before it needs replacing?

Again, this will vary according to the vehicle, the size of the battery, how often and how much it is charged. Most electric vehicle batteries are lithium based, which when charged and discharged once, it is called a cycle. Lithium battery capacity degrades as the cycle number increases. Makers of electric cars sell their models with a warranty for the battery. As an example, the Nissan Leaf, is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles, rising to 8 years or 100,000 miles for the version with a bigger battery. But yes, the answer is that after 3 to 10 years you will need to either buy a new battery – by which time their cost should have fallen – or sell the car on.

As a benchmark, currently the Nissan Leaf new battery costs about £4,920, which is pretty pricey. However you are able to lease a battery from Nissan with a cost of around £55 to £75 per month. When the battery dies it is replaced for you within the lease agreement.

6.Are they expensive to Service?

Despite people’s concerns in this matter, maintaining and working on an electric battery is actually easier than maintaining a combustion engine as there are no pistons, valves, gears etc. Servicing can cost only around £99 per year depending on the vehicle. Finding a local garage to service, maintain and repair your electric vehicle is also getting easier as the number of electric vehicles on our roads increase significantly.

7.Do Electric Vehicles need an MOT?

Yes, just as with an ordinary combustion engine car, it will need to have an annual MOT test after it becomes older than 3 years old.

8.I don’t have off street parking – how would I manage overnight charging?

This is still one of the sticking points for making the electric car a viable choice for city dwellers. Most of our cities are composed of terraced housing where there are no driveways or even any guarantee that a home owner can park directly outside of their house. One imagines a crisscross of cables across the pavement with people charging their cars overnight which would obviously be a hazard. Lamp post charging stations will address this issue over time and an increase in street charging points will take a while to roll out.

So in the meantime if you are unable to rely on a charge point at work and you use your car for long journeys at the weekend it probably isn’t practical to get a full or pure EV yet.

Electric Car Servicing and Repair in Chepstow

Here at Chepstow Autocare we are fully trained and able to repair, service and maintain all types of electric car. With the bridge crossings from Bristol to soon become toll-free, if you are a Bristol to Chepstow commuter, you can save yourself a lot of money by going electric. If you have any questions about our electric car services please do call us on 01291 627137.

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