FAQs

TYPES OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle.
The real deal – not hybrid. Simple electric vehicle. (example Renault Zoe).

HYBRID
A hybrid has both electric and petrol engines, the electric range is typically around 10-20 miles. For higher speed driving and longer distances the petrol motor is used, for city driving and short distances the car uses the electric motor.

PLUG-IN HYBRID
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is similar to a conventional hybrid in that it retains a petrol or diesel engine. However larger battery size increases electric-only range, while the biggest difference is the ability to charge via mains electricity. (example Mitsubishi Outlander).

EXTENDED RANGE ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EREV)
An extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) is an extension of a plug-in hybrid. A conventional engine is retained but is much smaller and the battery capacity is generally increased. In a pure EREV, the wheels can only be driven by the electric motor(s), the internal combustion engine only being used to hold or recharge the batteries as they become depleted. (example BMW i3)

WHAT ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES LIKE TO DRIVE?

Similar to an automatic, easy to drive, but beautifully quiet. EVs are also quick off the mark. Rarely embarrassed at the traffic lights. It’s hard to explain how smooth they are to drive…the best advice is to take one or two for a test drive. Once used to them a return to the combustion engine feels like a step backwards.

HOW FAR CAN A TYPICAL EV TRAVEL ON A SINGLE CHARGE?

Three years ago most EVs had a real-world range of around 80-100 miles. Technology is changing fast and 120-150 miles is now more normal. Some of the bigger premium models (such as the Tesla Model S) can achieve 200 miles plus.

Depending on the model, PHEVs are able to drive 15-40 miles in electric only mode. However, when the conventional petrol or diesel engine is used, PHEVs have a range that can exceed 500 miles on both fuels. EREVs usually offer the same amount of range as BEVs on electric but then can call on a small combustion engine to extend the range to 200-300 miles.

ARE EVS REALLY MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?

No tail pipe emissions – that’s one of the joys of Electric vehicles – zero-emission at point of use. However, emissions are produced during the generation of electricity, the amount depending on the method of generation.

Centralised energy generation is more efficient than millions of individual petrol and diesel engines. Our electricity supply is made up of a combination of coal, gas, nuclear and renewables. The proportion of carbon generating coal and gas fired stations is reducing as the renewable sector expands. So yes more environmentally friendly on both counts – less pollution at the point of use and less pollution total.

ARE EVS AS SAFE TO DRIVE AS OTHER VEHICLES?

According to the results of crash testing conducted for all cars and vans, yes. EVs have to adhere to the same safety regulations as conventional vehicles.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Tesla Model S all have a5 star Euro NCAP safety rating.

WHAT MODELS ARE AVAILABLE?

All the main car manufacturers are bringing out EVs now. It’s worth keeping an eye on Zap Map (website) where there is an up to date list of models available.

TYPES OF EV CHARGING POINT?

Available in different sizes (power). The four main EV charging speeds are:
Slow AC charging (up to 3kW) which is best suited for 6-8 hours overnight;
Fast AC charging (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 1-4 hours;
Rapid AC charging units (typically around 43kW) which can charge some EVs in less than an hour;
Rapid DC charging units (typically around 50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CHARGE AN EV?

The speed with which an EV can be fully recharged is dependent on three factors; the charger type (max power available), the model specification, and the battery capacity of the EV.

As charging points can be defined by their maximum power rating – Slow (3kW), Fast (7-22kW) and Rapid (50kW+) – the charger type indicates how quickly an EV could charge. However, this is only half the story as some electric vehicles are limited in how quickly they can recharge due to the specification of the on-board charger. For example, an EV with a 3kW on-board charger connected to a 7kW charging point can only charge at 3kW.

To complicate matters, if an EV has a large capacity battery, this inevitably will take longer to charge even if the power (rate) is high. In general, EVs with relatively long ranges will have larger battery capacities and therefore take longer to recharge on a particular charging point.

While only an indication, for an average EV, typical recharge times are as follows:
Slow AC 3kW: 6-8 hours;
Fast AC 7kW:3-4 hours;
Rapid AC/DC 43/50kW: 30-45 mins for 80%.

WHERE CAN I CHARGE MY EV?

Most EV owners charge their vehicles at home or the workplace the majority of the time. At home it’s advisable to get a specialized unit installed which you can get from a variety of suppliers. There are often government subsidies and grants available (depending on circumstances).

There are expanding networks of public charging point for additional backup and/or to increase journey distances.

Some points are completely free to use once an RFID card has been obtained, others incorporate the cost of use into a subscription, while others still can operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Visit our Public Charging Networks page to find out more information. There are both national and regional networks that cater for Slow, Fast and Rapid charging. The networks all differ in geographical coverage, what they offer and how you gain access to them.

DO YOU NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO CHARGE AN EV FROM HOME?

No but it is advisable. You can use a household 3-pin socket to charge an EV. But it is advisable to get a specialist unit installed for safety reasons: 3-pin sockets are not designed for continuous high power EV charging and can overheat. Using a specially designed charger and cable, monitors the continuity of the earth conductor. If this conductor breaks the charger will not operate for safety reasons, protecting your home wiring from damage. Dedicated units are also able to charge an EV more quickly at higher power, and are often installed in locations where cables won’t be a trip hazard.

IS MY EV COMPATIBLE WITH EVERY CHARGER TYPE?

It’s very unlikely. What charger you can use depends on your vehicle’s specifications (including the vehicle inlet sockets and on-board charger) and whether you have the right connecting cable. The easiest way to find out which types of charging point your EV is compatible with is by using Zap-Map’s Connector Selector.

ARE EVS EXPENSIVE TO BUY?

Electric vehicles are more expensive to buy than their petrol or diesel equivalents – typically between £3,000 to £10,000 for new cars depending on manufacturer and model. The up-front price gap is coming down rapidly as competition and battery costs fall.

Some manufacturers offer battery lease options as well as outright purchase. In these cases, the battery pack is purchased on a lease contract (typically 2-3 years) and the remainder of the vehicle is purchased outright, so keeping up-front costs to a minimum. Whole vehicle leasing deals are also available as is the case for conventional cars.

ARE EVS ELIGIBLE FOR GOVERNMENT GRANTS?

Most EVs are currently eligible for the Plug-in Car or Van Grant which is worth, for cars, 25% of the cost of the vehicle up to a maximum of £4,500 for BEVs and £2,500 for PHEVs; and for vans, 20% of the cost of the vehicle up to a maximum of £8,000.

To be eligible under the grant scheme vehicles must be new and satisfy demanding criteria including:

Category 1: CO2 emissions <50g/km and a zero emission range of at least 70 miles

Category 2: CO2 emissions <50g/km and a zero emission range between 10 and 69 miles

Category 3: CO2 emissions of 50-75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles

There is a £60,000 price cap on Category 2 and 3 eligible vehicles to focus grant funds on more affordable models.

For more information, visit the Office for Low Emission Vehicles website.