Electric cars reduce running costs dramatically and help you go green at the same time
Electric cars, also known as electric vehicles or EVs, are going to dominate UK motoring. It’s a bold statement, but it’s true.
The change from petrol and diesel cars to electric is happening much more quickly than people anticipated. All the large car manufacturers are ramping up their EV plans.
You may have noticed the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, and various Tesla and BMW electric models on UK roads for the last few years.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you will also now spot EVs made by Jaguar, VW, Hyundai, Kia, Smart and others. Soon all manufacturers will offer electric cars and gradually phase out their petrol/diesel cars.
Some electric vehicles have both a battery and a petrol/diesel engine. These cars are known as ‘hybrids’.
For a full explanation of all the various versions of electric car available in the UK, please read our EV Acronym page.
Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged fame has made a great introductory video on electric cars, in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust.
He covers all the main points including types of electric car, range, available grants, emissions, ‘fuel’ savings, new v. second hand electric cars, and so on.
Should I get an electric car? Follow our 4-step guide:
To help you decide whether to buy or lease an electric car, we have written a 4-step guide:
1. How Electric Cars Work
Electric cars are much simpler than normal cars.
Your standard diesel or petrol car is powered by an internal combustion engine. This is a very complicated piece of kit. The engine is then connected to a whole series of parts to make the car work.
The total number of moving parts in a traditional car is about 1,000. An electric car, on the other hand, has about 100 moving parts.
All electric vehicles have three main components: the battery, one or more electric motors, and a controller.
The battery is at the heart of your electric car. Think of it as your fuel tank. To fill it up, you pour electricity into it, rather than petrol.
Traditional cars have different size fuel tanks – so do EVs. The size of your battery determines how far you can travel.
A car with a small battery, such as 20 kWh, can’t travel as far as a car with a large battery, such as 100 kWh.
The battery inside your electric vehicle needs charging. You do this by plugging it into a charging point. You can have a charging point installed at home, and they can also be found up and down the country at motorway service stations and other convenient locations.
An EV battery is very similar to the battery in your laptop or mobile phone, only much bigger. It’s made of the same stuff: lithium-ion (you’ll sometimes see this as li-ion). The ‘-ion’ bit means the battery can be recharged. They wouldn’t be very practical if they were single use only.
The battery drives one or more electric motors inside your car. The electric motors then turn your wheels. Job done.
For either front- or rear-wheel drive cars, there is usually just one electric motor. For four-wheel drive vehicles, such as many Tesla models, there is an electric motor on each axle.
The power of a traditional car’s engine is usually expressed in ‘BHP’. With EVs, you will often see ‘kW’ instead. If you think kW stands for Kanye West, please read our Energy Terminology page.
Electric cars are famous for incredibly fast acceleration. If you floor the accelerator in an EV, you will be pinned to your seat!
To manage this instant battery power, there is an electronic ‘controller’ that regulates how much power is delivered to the wheels.
The controller allows for a smooth driving experience.
A clever technology employed by electric cars is ‘regenerative braking’.
The idea is not to waste any spare energy. In a normal car, when you brake, a lot of heat is generated by the brake pads. This heat energy is lost.
In an EV, when you brake, the electric motor goes into reverse and acts as a generator, charging the battery. In this way, instead of wasted heat you get more charge in your battery. Nice one.
2. Ten Reasons to Get an Electric Vehicle
Should you get an electric car now? Over time, we will probably all have electric cars. There will still be ICE cars on the roads, but nearly all new cars in the UK will have a battery inside.
In 2019, there are already compelling reasons to buy or lease an electric vehicle. Here are 10 reasons to get an electric car:
- Reduce your monthly car ‘fuel’ costs – electricity costs a lot less than petrol/diesel.
- Always have a full ‘tank’ in the morning – no more mad dashes to the petrol station.
- Enjoy instant acceleration – great for over-taking safely.
- Maintain access to city centre roads – greater restrictions on diesel/petrol cars are inevitable.
- Zero emissions – no environmental pollution or greenhouse gases.
- The latest in-car technology – EVs often showcase the very latest automotive advances.
- Lower servicing costs – pure electric cars (BEVs) have far fewer parts than standard cars.
- A much quieter ride – electric motors are almost silent.
- Benefit from a low centre of gravity – batteries are usually mounted on the floor which makes the car more stable.
- A grant of £3,500 is available in the UK for new EV purchases – take advantage before they take it away!
If you like the sound of many of these points, then an electric car might be right for you.
Now that you know how electric cars work and understand some of the benefits, let’s look at EV models available today in the UK.
3. Compare Electric Car Models
All the major car manufacturers have their sites firmly fixed on EVs. New electric car models are being announced all the time.
UK prices are coming down. Range is going up. Features are getting better and better. What’s not to like?
Below is a table with three sections listing the different types of electric car available in the UK today (and a couple that are on their way):
- BEV – 100% battery electric car
- PHEV – car with a medium-sized battery (which you can plug in to charge) + a petrol/diesel engine
- HEV – car with a tiny battery (which you can’t plug in) + a petrol/diesel engine
For all the fully electric BEV cars, click on the name of the car for facts, figures, video reviews, etc.
Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV)
- BMW 225xe iPerformance (PHEV)
- BMW 530e iPerformance (PHEV)
- BMW i8 Coupe (PHEV)
- BMW i8 Roadster (PHEV)
- Hyundai Ioniq (PHEV)
- Kia Niro (PHEV)
- Mini Countryman S E A114 (PHEV)
- Mitsubishi Outlander (PHEV)
- Range Rover (PHEV)
- Range Rover Sport (PHEV)
- Toyota Prius (PHEV)
- Volvo S90 T8 (PHEV)
- Volvo V90 T8 (PHEV)
- Volvo XC60 T8 (PHEV)
- Volvo XC90 T8 (PHEV)
Hybrids you can’t plug in (HEV)
- Ford Mondeo (HEV)
- Honda NSX (HEV)
- Hyundai Ioniq (HEV)
- Infiniti Q50 (HEV)
- Infiniti Q70 (HEV)
- Kia Niro (HEV)
- Lexus CT 200h (HEV)
- Lexus ES 300h (HEV)
- Lexus IS 300h (HEV)
- Lexus LC 500h (HEV)
- Lexus LS 500h (HEV)
- Lexus NX 300h (HEV)
- Lexus RC 300h (HEV)
- Lexus RX (HEV)
- Lexus UX 250h (HEV)
- Toyota Auris Hybrid (HEV)
- Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid (HEV)
- Toyota C-HR Hybrid (HEV)
- Toyota Prius Hybrid (HEV)
- Toyota Prius+ Hybrid (HEV)
- Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (HEV)
- Toyota Yaris Hybrid (HEV)
Once you’ve explored a few models, get in touch with local dealers to arrange a test drive via section 4 below.
If you do get an electric car, your monthly ‘fuel’ costs will go down. But, if you charge your car at home, your electricity bills will go up. You may then wish to look at generating your own electricity with solar panels.
4. Find a Local Dealer
The acid test for an EV is not to read articles and watch videos. You’ve actually got to get behind the wheel.
Once you’ve taken an electric vehicle for a test drive, you’ll appreciate what all the fuss is about:
- Great acceleration
- A peaceful, silent drive
- Excellent technology as standard
- No petrol smells
- Low running costs
- We could go on…
It’s also well documented that once you own and drive an electric car, you never go back to a petrol / diesel car. There’s a before and after.
It’s as if you’ve been watching a science fiction film, climbed inside the TV, and then been allowed to stay there. Electric cars give you a taste of the future, today.
Below are links to all the counties around the UK (Scotland and Wales coming shortly). Click on your county and you will be taken to a separate page listing quick links to all the dealers in your county.
Get in touch with your dealer of choice and let the fun begin.
Click on your county name to find local car dealers (Scottish and Welsh counties coming soon!)