2018 has been quite a year for electric vehicles (EVs), and likewise it’s been quite a year for us. We’ve visited some great towns and cities across the UK, including Richmond, Oxford, Beaconsfield, Leicester, Cambridge and Windsor, helping people discover the benefits of electric vehicles, and demystifying this exciting area of cutting-edge technology.
We visited Construction Week Live at the NEC and helped visitors understand the charging solutions available in the market, and advised on the right ones for them. And we loved launching our tariff for EV drivers at the amazing Fully Charged Live, which has quickly established itself as one of the destination events in the electric vehicle world.
In that time we’ve hosted hundreds of test drives of the best EVs in the market, clocking up thousands of miles. And, what’s best, all of those driven miles have been 100% powered by renewables, with no tail-pipe emissions.
In all the conversations we've had across 2018, there are few common questions. (We really don't mind, that’s what we’re here for). We thought we'd share these questions, and provide the answers, in case you have also wondered...
“Does it go as far as my current petrol car?”
Most electric vehicles these days go over 150 miles between charges (the Teslas and Jaguar I-PACE can even get up to the 300 mile mark).
Most car commutes are less than a 25 mile round trip per day, and other journeys are typically local (visits to shops, school drop-offs etc). A report by the Department for Transport stated that 94% of trips made by car in the UK are below 25 miles which is easily done multiple times in any EV on the market today on a single charge.
If you do need to travel a long distance, nearly all motorway service stations have rapid chargers that can typically get you back to 80% charge in 30-60mins. Tesla even have their own supercharger network that can top up the Tesla 75kWh battery in 30 minutes.
We find most EV drivers shift their mindset, from filling up with petrol as and when you need it, to just getting into good habits of topping up your battery as and when you can, but once you’re there you’ll never go back.
“And if the battery does run out…?”
First off, there are a lot of cool tricks and toys in an EV to help make sure that doesn’t happen; Eco modes limit the use of certain functionality so as to preserve battery power and promote range. Regenerative braking is a standard feature on EVs and it will reduce the impact of the drive on the battery and extend range as you drive, without you having to think about it. There are also great on-board displays to give early warning status of the battery status, giving you ample time to find a local charge point.
But if your battery does run out, you can simply call your breakdown cover provider and they will come and tow you to the nearest charge point. Providers such as AA and RAC have invested into service provision for EV drivers and are continuing to do so.
“Where can I charge?”
If you’re lucky enough to have off street parking, absolutely the best option is to get a smart home charger installed. If you pair that with an EV tariff or even a Economy 7 tariff, you can do the majority of your charging at home, making the most of cheap off peak rates. We actually partnered with Octopus Energy to design a tariff specifically for EV drivers - Octopus Energy Go. We found EV drivers typically don’t need the 7 hours of off-peak electricity associated with Economy 7 tariffs - so we shortened the off-peak period to 4 hrs and got it as low as we could - offering 5p/kWh between 00:30-04:30 every night. And the day rate is pretty good too - plus it is 100% renewable energy (as are all Octopus Energy tariffs).
And then, if you have on-street parking, there are multiple different options available to you. There are more than 19,000 publicly available charging connectors in the UK at more than 6,500 locations! You can check out those local to you on Zap Map.
Since 2017, it has been mandatory to have charging points at motorway service stations, and so there is a great network at these locations. Beyond this, more and more charging points are being rolled out at shopping centres, car parks, hotels and leisure destinations so you’re never very far from somewhere to charge your EV.
And additionally, supermarkets and petrol stations have also started to roll out chargers in their car parks (Tesco have recently announced a plan to install 2,400 free charge points across 600 locations) meaning you can charge while you do the weekly food shop or on your local forecourt. The network of chargers on streets (parking bays) and through lampposts is set to grow and grow providing even better infrastructure for EV drivers.
Finding your local charge points and planning any driving routes is easy with apps like Zap Map providing live maps with details of charging facilities, whether they are currently in use and alerting you to any problems with specific charge points in advance.
As with petrol stations, you quickly become familiar with knowing ones on your regular routes, which ones are the cheap ones, which ones are the most expensive ones, and which ones sell the best scotch eggs.
“Aren’t they more expensive than a petrol or diesel car?”
Looking at the whole life cost of an EV versus a combustion engine vehicle gives you the best comparison. Researchers at the University of Leeds found that annual cost of ownership was 10% cheaper for EV drivers and a recent study in The Telegraph showed that when comparing a Nissan LEAF with a Ford Focus, the EV driver saved £1,500 in a year on total cost of ownership. That’s a lot of saving, all while also having that feel-good factor of doing something good for local air quality, and supporting the move to a lower carbon economy.
There are a number of points to take into account:
1) the cost of the vehicle
Electric cars currently benefit from a £3,500 government subsidy applied to the price of the vehicle, which is a great start.
At the time of publishing this - you can buy a Nissan LEAF (the most popular EV in the UK) from £26,190. Of course, there is a range of vehicles from the Renault Zoe starting from £21,920, to the luxury EVs - the Jaguar I-PACE and the Teslas, from £60,995.
Getting them on a lease - either personally or as a business - can often come in better value, and we take the residual value risk (what it will be worth in a few years). Just let us know if you’d like a quote.
Plus if your organisation is up for it, you can do it on salary sacrifice - where you pay out of your gross salary, saving up to 40% on the monthly costs. We found it can be difficult to get help to set this up - so we set up a team that specialise it doing this for organisations. Let us know if you’d like more details.
2) The running costs
Further subsidies on home and workplace charge points mean you can access cheap electricity easily for your car. At the time of publishing, we can currently install a smart home charger for your new car for £359 incl VAT (if it’s a standard install).
Speaking of which, the cost of fuel (electric charging vs petrol/diesel) is around 85% cheaper. Researchers at the University of Leeds found that on a like-for-like basis an EV owner would pay ~£650 a year in powering their car, while equivalent fuel costs for a similar size combustion engine vehicle were over £4,000!
And the cost of servicing is also lower (20 moving parts in an electric car vs thousands in a petrol car) for EVs. Go Ultra Low estimated that servicing costs are 70% lower on an electric vehicle.
There’s no road tax for low emission cars under £40,000 in value. Plus EV drivers will be exempt from ‘taxes’ like the Congestion Charge, or Ultra Low Emission Zone charges on polluting cars.
And finally - some councils offer cheaper parking. For example, some areas of London charge almost £20 for 4 hours of parking if you have a petrol or diesel vehicle, while an EV driver only pays 82p (the min charge possible for that location).
Add those costs up over the lifetime of a car, and you often save money by switching to an EV.
And on to the future...
Looking forward to 2019, it’s going to be another exciting one. We’re planning on travelling the country a lot more, to spread the word of how great these cars are (keep checking back here to see when we’re coming near you). We’ll be pushing the boundaries of what a car can do, rolling out our Vehicle-To-Grid bundle. Plus we’re looking to develop our partnerships across the sector to make charging easier for all.
And we’re especially excited to get a first glimpse (and drive) of the new cars due to drop in 2019, including the Mini EV, the Audi e-tron, the Mercedes EQ C and the Tesla Model 3. And once they arrive, watch this space as we’ll be working day and night to get the best deals for you.