Electric Cars

Electric Vehicle FAQs

Your Electric Vehicles FAQs Answered


How do I buy an EV?

The most obvious answer is that you can buy a new EV in exactly the same way that you buy a normal petrol or diesel car from a car showroom. However, particularly with EVs, there has been something of a boom in alternatives to more traditional purchasing methods.

The most obvious is with a salary sacrifice company car scheme, with many taking advantage of the low company car Benefit-it-Kind tax rates given to EVs. In recent years, company cars have been dropping with many drivers taking the cash alternative, but those low tax rates of EVs have seen an increase in numbers again.

Another route open to drivers after an EV is also with the numerous car subscription services that have launched in the past few years. These give drivers maximum flexibility, but they can be more expensive than the traditional options mentioned above.

Car manufacturers themselves are getting in on the act with subscription services of their own with many also moving their dealers to an agency model rather than traditional showrooms. This enables the manufacturers to have a better control over their sales and, ultimately for customers, a simple set price rather than a need for uncomfortable haggling.

Learn more about salary sacrifice



Are EVs expensive to buy?

Ok, there’s no dodging this, the simple answer is yes, EVs do tend to be more expensive to buy compared to their petrol or diesel counterparts. However, don’t scroll away just yet, because you need to look at the wider picture, especially when it comes to your running costs.

We’ll cover these running costs in more detail in another post, but a brief solution is to think about how many miles you do over a year or perhaps the three years that you’re going to run the car. Petrol and diesel costs are thankfully no longer at the eye-watering levels of 2022, but work out your mileage and what that will equate to in terms of your fuel costs with your car’s average real-world fuel economy. Then you need to factor in your road tax and also if you drive into London’s Congestion Charge Zone or the newly-extended ULEZ or similar zones around the UK.

Then do the same with the EV equivalent. Charging an EV at your home is often the cheapest place to charge up and the price per kWh of your domestic electricity will be on your bill. Again, work out the real-world efficiency of your particular EV (it’s likely to be around 3-4 miles per kWh) and calculate your cost accordingly. If you can charge your car using an off-peak domestic tariff (see below) where the price can be less than a third of the standard tariff, then the costs are considerably lower again.

AutoTrader have done some research into the average cost differences between running an EV versus a petrol or diesel car over the past few years and it shows a considerable saving for the EV driver.

There are a number of online tools which can help you look at your running costs to make the comparison when thinking of a new car. We like Zap Map’s Journey Cost Calculator, take a look and have a go yourself:

Journey Cost Calculator



How far do EVs go between charges?

Unfortunately, this is a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question. An EV’s range depends on a number of things, but the two main ones are the size of the battery and the car’s efficiency, usually measured in miles per kWh. While the officially claimed WLTP range is a good guide, the reality is that you’re unlikely to match that during real-world driving (which is the same for petrol and diesel cars, too).

Instead, as we said before, we reckon on an average efficiency of 3-4 miles per kWh with some smaller EVs managing more than that and sportier or larger models covering slightly less. If you then multiply that by the car’s battery size, then you’ll get the real-world range.

So, for a Vauxhall Mokka-e with a 50kW battery, for instance the everyday range you might expect to see will be between 150-200 miles.

There’s a caveat to that though, which is that some of the car’s onboard equipment and the outside temperature may also have an effect on your range. Batteries don’t really like cold temperatures and while heat pumps help (fitted as standard on some EVs), you can expect to see your range drop a little during the winter months.

Of course, it also doesn’t help that during that colder weather, you’re more likely to use the car’s heater too. If you have them, heated seats and a heated steering wheel are a more efficient way of heating those inside than the main heater which again can rob you of a few miles of range. Ironically though, the flip side of that is that in the summer, the air conditioning doesn’t have a dramatic effect on your efficiency in an EV as it does in a traditional petrol or diesel car.

It may sound a lot to take in, but the reality is that it doesn’t take long living with an EV for you to find your way and work out what works and what doesn’t.

How do I charge an EV?

Do you have a petrol or diesel pump at your home? And beyond shopping around for the lowest prices in your area, do you have any control over how much you pay for that petrol or diesel?

We’re guessing that you’ve probably just answered ‘no’ to both of those questions. Well welcome to EV ownership, because that’s exactly what you’ve got with an EV. There are two main options for charging your EV – charging at home or charging on the road using public chargers. Some workplaces also have charging points now too.

It’s worth pointing out that for current EV drivers, 80 per cent of their charging happens at work or at home – so if you have off-street parking, it’s not inconceivable that you may not use or even need a public charging point all that frequently.

The main advantage to charging at home is that unless you can find a free charging point, then your home will always be the cheapest place to charge. At the time of writing, the standard domestic tariff is 34p per kWh, so that same Vauxhall Mokka-e with a 50kW battery would cost 50 x 34p to charge from zero to 100 per cent – ie £17.00.

However, numerous electricity providers now offer off-peak EV tariffs for overnight charging similar to the old ‘Economy 7’ tariffs of previous years. These can see your tariff drop to as low as 10p per kWh overnight, significantly reducing that charging cost. Again, at that rate, charging that same Mokka-e from zero to 100 per cent would cost just £5.

But what if you need to use a public charger? Here’s where things get a little trickier. There’s two general rules to remember here. The first is that often the more powerful the charger is, then the more expensive it’s likely to be – so a 7kWh charger will be less expensive than a 50kWh one while a 100kWh charger will be more again. However, your car might not be able to take advantage of the full kWh offering of the most powerful chargers (which can go up to 350kWh), so check beforehand and don’t pay for something you don’t need.

The second rule is that as well as the power the charger can offer, you also need to take location into account. While many have blanket prices across their networks, often those such as at motorway service stations can be pricey (just like petrol or diesel) – sometimes as much as £1 per kwh. You can reduce these prices slightly by having accounts with the individual companies and charging via their apps rather than just tapping a credit card to pay. It’s only a few pence per kWh, but it all adds up and if you’re using public chargers regularly, then it’s probably worth it.


Are EVs reliable?

Most certainly yes. EVs have far fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel cars, so as a result there’s a lot less to go wrong. The initial concerns with the earliest EVs about battery longevity haven’t come to pass in anywhere near the level that was at first forecast and, as the technology improves, so the batteries themselves improve along with their range, efficiency and sensitivity to temperature we mentioned earlier.

Find out more about switching to an electric vehicle.

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