Convert to owning an electric car

Charging points, running costs and living with battery power: all the information you need before you consider buying an electric car

BuyaCar team
Nov 16, 2021

Is the idea of buying an electric car becoming more attractive? With the price of used electric cars coming down, the infrastructure surrounding them expanding and improving, and new generations of cars arriving all the time with improved batteries and better range, there has never been a better time to buy an electric car.

But making the switch an electric car after years of driving petrol or diesel models might mean there are a few changes for you and your lifestyle. For better or worse, electric cars are different to what we're used to, so it's good to be prepared for what's in store.

There's charging to consider, along with how far you can expect to travel once the battery is fully charged, while the act of actually driving an electric car is an entirely new experience, too.

Read on for all the details on buying an electric car, with all of the lifestyle considerations you'll need to make.

Charging an electric car

The ideal solution for electric car owners is to install a charging point at home, which will require somewhere to park the car off the street - a driveway or a garage. The Government is currently offering a grant towards home charging points, subject to certain criteria, which can help you to save hundreds off an installation. If you don’t have the space, then maybe it’s time to convince your employer to have one installed at work.

Previously, a 3kW charger would have been enough for most people, charging early versions of the Nissan Leaf in around eight hours. More recent electric cars have much large batteries, so it's well worth investing in a 7kW charger, which should be able to charge the 50kWh batteries of the Vauxhall Corsa-e or Peugeot e-208 in around 7-8 hours. Some chargers can support 11kW, but this generally requires some major electrical work in your house.

What's more, some energy companies offer cheaper overnight tariffs which could cost as little as a third of the standard daytime rate, charging a 50kWh battery for around £3.

Electric car costs

The chances are that you’ll still pay more or an electric car than a conventional one. Pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe are more expensive than their petrol or diesel equivalents, but the difference is less stark thanks to the Government's plug-in car grant.

Electric cars are also exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), including the surcharge imposed on petrol and diesel vehicles that cost over £40,000. While exempt from the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge, any car must pay to enter central London's congestion zone, and that includes EVs.

Electric car range

One of the biggest fears of potential electric car buyers is that they might be left stranded with a battery that has run out of charge. But most daily journeys are considerably less than 40 miles, which is well within the range of a modern electric car. Most modern electric cars should be able to achieve 150 miles, and some in excess of 250 miles, but even if you venture further afield, the charging infrastructure has improved significantly since the emergence of electric vehicles (although it still needs more expansion).

Companies like Zap-map and A Better Route Planner chart the location of more than 25,000 public charge points (there’s also a smartphone app, which locates and navigates you to charging points). The map also allows you to find charge points with rapid charge capability (50kW+), which can charge up to 80% in about half an hour. These were previously reserved for motorway service stations, but they can now be found in places like supermarkets, pubs and restaurants.

These sites will also give you information about what connectors you’ll need and which network the charging point is on. That’s important because some networks require you to use an app or an access card to charge up.

In terms of how you drive, there are certain measures you can take to ensure you get the best range possible, but for maximum efficiency, consider one of these efficient electric cars.

Driving an electric car

If you haven’t experienced a modern EV, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. The first thing that’ll strike you is just how smoothly and quickly they accelerate, thanks to their instant burst of power the moment that you press the accelerator.

Without the vibrations of an engine underneath the bonnet, electric cars are smooth and quiet enough to rival a Rolls-Royce. It does mean that you have to anticipate pedestrians walking out in front of you because they haven’t heard the car coming - particularly at low speeds. Most electric cars emit an artificial sound under 19mph for this reason.

 

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