The Future – Electric Cars
According to Dominic Carrington, writing in the Guardian, there will be two million electric vehicles (EVs) on the world’s roads by the end of 2016, and electric vehicles dominated the October 2016 Paris motor show.
As battery technology becomes more sophisticated it is likely that charging times, and perhaps battery capacity, will reduce.
There are obvious benefits for the environment but what else should you consider when you are thinking of switching to an EV?
While the purchase price of a new EV may still be quite high for some people it is worth considering what owners will save on running costs, taxes and maintenance.
Electric vehicles are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (aka road tax) and in London from the City Centre Congestion Charge.
Running costs are also considerably lower than for petrol/diesel vehicles, an estimated £80 per year, depending on EV car make and model.
Maintenance costs are also much lower as there are fewer moving parts in EVs
Battery replacement will need to be done every three years because there is a ceiling on the number of times a battery can be recharged.
Are electric cars the future of motoring? Well, the average journey distance between battery charging is estimated at 60-70 miles, although it will vary with the car model and the battery type.
There are increasing numbers of EV charging stations throughout the UK, so that route planning for longer journeys is becoming easier and there are now a number of online maps and apps showing charging station locations, including Zap-Map.com
Charging the car at home
According to the UK Government the vast majority of EV owners will charge their cars at home as it takes up to six hours and is convenient to do over night while the owner is asleep.
Although it is possible to charge an EV using a regular household socket it is not advised as a long term solution because there is constant high ampage drain, so constant charging from an ordinary domestic power socket can lead to sockets overheating.
There is some Government financial help available to eligible owners to have a charging point installed. This scheme was updated in July 2016 and is subject to regular review but there is guidance online for both EV owners and approved installers.
There are some conditions. You must prove that you own the vehicle and only certain cars are eligible for the grant, which is up to 75% contribution towards the cost of one charge point and its installation up to a maximum of £500 (including VAT) per household/eligible vehicle.
You will need to have a driveway as charging cables are quite short and you should never use an extension cable.
Your charge point installer must be approved to fit the charge point, which must be manufactured by an approved supplier and it is the installer who must make the grant application.
You will also need to discuss with your installer whether your house wiring is robust enough to cope with the higher electrical demand of charging.