Starting your Electric Car Journey

Posted by Thame Cars on Mar 14, 2019 2:57:44 PM


We had a landmark event last month as we sold our first electric car! We’re all very excited about this, as electric cars are becoming a more common sight on our local roads (last year UK sales grew by 21%!). The the top 10 best electric cars in the UK in 2018 are:

  • Nissan Leaf
  • BMW i3
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Jaguar i-Pace
  • Tesla Model S
  • Renault Zoe
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Tesla Model X
  • VW e-Golf
  • Kia Soul EV

Although we don’t see used electric cars outnumbering used petrol and diesel on our forecourt in the near future, we are certainly very happy to be stocking some of the best electric cars in the UK now.

If you’re thinking about buying your first electric car, here is what you need to know to get you started.

What are electric cars?

In essence an electric car runs on a battery powered motor rather than fuel. They have an electric pack connected to an electric motor, which turns the wheels. Unlike a hybrid or hydrogen fuel-cell car, a pure electric vehicle will always need to be plugged into the mains supply to recharge the battery pack. As well as powering the wheels, the battery also powers the car’s lights, the air-conditioning, the stereo, sat nav, and various other electric systems. So, if you’ve got everything on at the same time, this will have a significant impact on the car’s range.

Driving an electric car feels very different to a regular petrol or diesel. Because of the way electric motors work, the same amount of power is available right across the rev range which can lead to a much smoother driving experience.

When you take your foot off the accelerator the car starts to slow down more rapidly than it would in a car with a regular engine, as braking energy is diverted back into recharging the battery.

Benefits in cost of electric cars

The low cost of running an electric car is one of the driving forces behind the increasing demand. As prices at the pump continue to increase, charging electric vehicles is becoming steadily cheaper. Electric cars are exempt from some congestion charges, so if you regularly drive into these zones the savings can quickly add up.

How much do electric cars cost & are electric cars cheaper?

The size of the battery is like the capacity of a regular fuel tank, except it’s expressed in kilowatt hours (kWh). The cost of charging the vehicle depends on the cost per kWh. For example, a typical rapid charge point currently costs around 35p per kWh, which would be about £12 for the 33kWh capacity BMW i3. At home you might only pay 12p per kWh, which bring the cost of a charge down to about £4. A BMW i3 has a range of up to 180 miles on a full charge, but some cars such as the Tesla Model S can drive for 300+ miles before a recharge is required.

Companies like Charge now UK provide you with a monthly subscription to be able to charge your vehicle free at 5,000 charging points in the UK. You can sign up for this service for £7.85 a month, 9p a kilowatt. Charge now gives you additional benefits such as,

  • Access to over 5000 charge points across the UK
  • Majority of charges absolutely free
  • At chargeable posts you only pay for the cost of electricity that you use, at 9p per kWh. This is cheaper than the average cost of charging from home.

How to charge an electric car? 

You can charge an electric vehicle from a standard domestic supply with a regular 3 pin plug, but for a faster charge you can have a wallbox fitted at home. Public charging points are becoming more widely available and as the infrastructure improves owning an electric vehicle will become even more convenient. The charging duration varies depending on the size of your vehicle’s battery pack, the speed that the battery can receive charge and the type of charging point that you use. For example, the BMW i3 we sold recently takes 12-15 hours with a standard 3 pin plug, but only 6-7 hours with a wallbox.

Major grocery retailers are teaming up to provide their customers with accessible electric vehicle charging points. In November 2018 Tesco and VW have partnered up to provide customers with 2,400 new electric vehicle chargers at 600 branches nationwide and some of these will be free to use. Governments are also helping to ensure that there are accessible charging points nationwide, especially focusing on home and workplace power points. For example, there have been talks of having new street lighting that include charging points.

Additionally, Google Maps have revealed a map app which allows users to find nearby charging points. There are 13,000 public charging points in the UK, which is 5 times more than in 2011. However, the location of your nearest charge point is still something you have to factor in when planning a long journey.

Should you own or lease the battery?

The battery for an electric vehicle will depreciate in value over time, especially as there is so many research and development within the industry. However, research suggests that it is extremely unlikely that a new EV battery would need replacing within 5 years. The current prediction is that your battery should take at least 10 years and perhaps 20 years to before it would need replacing.

Manufacturers usually provide a warranty for batteries as they would any other car part, so if there are any problems they will be covered. Replacing the battery outside of warranty is possible, but as there are currently no independent battery suppliers this would mean returning the car to the manufacturer. Leasing a battery gets around the issues with depreciation and means that you can keep the same car updated with the latest and most efficient battery technology.

Therefore, the answer to this question is it all depends on how you would like to finance your electric car.

Does it need servicing?

Yes, electric cars absolutely need servicing. However, the service does not require as many tools as a diesel or petrol vehicle would. There are fewer fluids and moving parts in an electric car so there is less to wear out

At Thame Cars we have trained staff to advise you on any information you would need about electric vehicles. We also have trained technicians to service or repair your car. If you require any further advice, we would love to assist you. Please contact us on 01844393438. 

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