Have you decided to ditch your diesel or petrol car for an electric equivalent?
If you have, then beyond the usual pitfalls associated with the purchase of a new car you should also consider the following key factors when buying an electric vehicle.
Perhaps you care about the environment, or the damage caused to our children's respiratory system or you may even simply want to save on fuel, the reasons for the move to electrification are many. Whatever your reasons, these points should help you understand and then consider for yourself the ramifications of electric vehicle ownership.
1. The average distance you drive per day
In comparison with the normal petrol and diesel vehicles we see, most EVs offer a decidedly shorter range; for example in real-world driving a Nissan Leaf has a range of around 86 miles, the eGolf and Hyundai Ionic, 120 miles and even top-of-the-range EVs only manage a little over 220 miles from a full charge. So how far you drive per day is of utmost importance.
Now it is getting better for the EV owner however, with public charging points found in many more locations including, fuel stations, shopping centres and even town-centre car parks. Plus more funding in the pipeline. But despite this, re-charging an EV is no-where near as simple as it is for a petrol or diesel vehicle.
It's worth also noting that the time required to fully charge an EV can be many hours and this also needs to be taken into account if you do a reasonably lengthy daily commute.
This is why the number of miles you drive in any given day is an important consideration. In the ideal world you would purchase an EV with a range, that when fully charged, will always be further than you need to travel.
2. Charging options for electric cars
As mentioned above, the range of your EV is an important consideration when buying an EV, but your ability to recharge the vehicle must also be taken into account and may involve prior planning, electrical and even construction at your property or place of work. Interestingly, almost all EVs sold today offer the ability to re-charge using a normal household socket. However, you may not wish to wait the 8-12 hours that normal charger takes to replenish the EVs battery.
You can choose to have a more powerful charging system installed, this is available for most model of EV at a cost, and this can bring the re-charge time down quite dramatically, perhaps down to under half-an-hour. Depending on your choice of EV and charger. But beware, high current chargers often require a dedicated power supply and will almost certainly require expert installation.
Beyond the above, even with a full-charge you may find that some journeys require a top-up or re-charge before your return, so it's definitely worth understanding the limitations of your EVs charging system and you should also learn where you will find suitable public charging points for use with your vehicle.
What about the battery?
3. Electric vehicle maintenance and battery life
Another important consideration with EVs is the battery, its longevity and ultimately its potential replacement cost. Whilst EVs themselves require less maintenance than petrol and diesel vehicles due to the lower number of moving parts one thing that does require checking is the condition of the battery.
Manufacturers state that their batteries are good for upwards of 100,000 miles, so replacement shouldn’t be necessary whilst you own the car if you stick below that mileage. But be aware, like their laptop equivalents, batteries in EVs degrade over time causing them to hold less charge and thus offer a shorter range. To put the problem into perspective, a Nissan Leaf battery replacement will cost upwards of £5000. You can double that price for a Tesla Model S replacement battery.
You should also consider the environment you live in as EV batteries generally perform much better in temperate climates than they do when driving in the freezing Artic tundra.
4. Your future electricity bill
Burning oil as a fuel for our cars requires regular visits to the fuel station, which as we all know has a cost, and moving over to an electric vehicle when charged at home moves that cost to your electricity bill. However, in real-world usage unless you do an inordinate number of miles each day you will not see a massive increase in that bill.
For an example, the average cost to charge an electric car overnight is about £3.00 and a longer-range Tesla Model S, £9.00. Which is much cheaper per mile than your old oil-burner.
The average driver travelling 16 miles per day would spend about £20 per month on electricity using the average electric car.
5. Resale value for used electric cars.
Whilst electric vehicles have been available now for quite some time, the resale value of the newer models is still a distinct unknown, unlike for their petrol and diesel powered equivalents.
You should consider any likely depreciation on an EV over and above the norm because once it's time to replace it you might find the number of miles it's driven negatively impacts its resale value and you find buyers pointing out the cost of a replacement battery.
The move from a petrol or diesel vehicle need not be a life-changing decision, and as long as you put a reasonable level of research and thought into your purchase, and you consider the points raised above you will find the joys of EV ownership are well within your grasp.