Electric vehicle frequently asked questions

06 / 02 / 20  |  Drivers / Driver Guides

Find the answers to some of our frequently asked questions about electric vehicles

The electric range for electric cars will vary model to model. When choosing which electric car you want to order you will need to decide if its advertised range is suitable for the majority of your travel needs.

If you think you can complete most of your journeys on a single charge of electricity, then the vehicle should be suitable for you.

Please also note that the range achieved during real-world driving may differ from the advertised range, as range achieved will be impacted by several factors such as driving style, weight of the vehicle and journey type. Your electric car will monitor your remaining range, and some will even direct you to the nearest charge point to re-charge.

Not all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles can be used to tow or have roof rails added to carry extra luggage. This is because the extra weight, particularly with towing, could impact the vehicle’s components such as the brakes and suspension which are already under more pressure due to the weight of the electric battery.

There are a small number of plug-in and electric vehicles which do have towing capabilities, but worth noting that the maximum weight they can take is often lower than petrol or diesel equivalents.

You will need to check exact details with the manufacturer for the car that you’re interested in to check it has type approval for towing.

Lead times for electric vehicles operate in the same way as petrol or diesel, in that they will vary manufacturer to manufacturer.

All zero emitting cars, those which have 0g/km CO2, will benefit from the 0% Benefit-in-Kind rate from April 2020.

If you have a charge point installed at home the cost per charge will depend on the tariff you are signed up to with your electricity supplier. Certain tariffs offer cheaper rates at off-peak time, which can be good when looking to charge your car overnight. Speak to your energy supplier to make them aware of your charge point and they will be able to advise on the most suitable tariff for your needs.

Different charge point providers have different cost models for electric charging. Some will charge a pence per kWH of electricity whilst others will charge a flat fee.

With some you may also need to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee or download their app in order to access the charge points.

Some chargers are available on a pay-on-use basis whereby you can simply pay with your contactless debit or credit card for the electricity you require; this provides complete ease of use.

From Spring 2020 all new rapid or high-powered chargers in the UK will be required to accept this type of payment.

There are over 10,500 charging locations in the UK with over 17,000 devices fitted across these locations.

Exact types of charger, including their power output, charging structure and types of cable available with vary. However, there are fantastic resources such as Zap-Map which electric car drivers can use to plan their public charging and identify suitable charging locations for their specific journeys.

There are a number of different charge point providers in the UK. Most will provide an end-to-end service from applying for your charge point grant from the UK government, advising on the type of charge point required for your needs and checking your electricity meter for compatibility.

The company will provide the charge point and all suitable cabling, as well as fitting it all in the appropriate location at your home.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles maintains a list of approved charge point providers and models list for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, which allows you to get the government grant towards a new electric charge point.

Running out of electricity completely in your car is unlikely as the car will have an indicator (like petrol and diesel cars) to let you know your remaining electric range.

Running your car’s electricity down to 0% is not advised, as this can have long-term impacts on the performance of the battery. You should aim to keep a minimum 20% electric charge.

You should plan longer journeys ahead of time to ensure you identify appropriate charging locations along your route and allow for extra travel time to accommodate public charging.

If you do find you run out of electricity this should be treated the same way as any other breakdown.

Weather and driving conditions will impact the battery range of an electric car, just as it impacts petrol and diesel vehicles.

There are several other factors which will also impact the exact range you get in your electric car, for example whether you have the heating or conditioning on, the location of driving (city or motorway), the weight of the vehicle and your driving style. Your car will monitor its electric range and let you know how much mileage you have left. Some will also navigate you to the nearest public charging point to meet your charging needs for longer journeys.

When planning a long journey there are plenty of resources available to help with journey planning for an electric car. Some examples are:

  • Zap-Map allows you to filter on the type of connection you require, what network you prefer, payment methods and location types to identify chargers available in locations that work for you. Users of the app can also report whether a charger is working or not and this is then made visible to alert other users.
  • A better routeplanner – allows you to enter your exact electric vehicle model and your preferred charger type to calculate the best route, including details of approx. cost per charge and the level of battery you should expect upon your arrival.
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