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A guide to electric carsBack

EV1The past couple of years has seen a huge surge in the demand for electric and plug-in cars with registrations for plug-ins increasing from 3,500 in 2013 to 48,000 by December 2015. Furthermore, the choice of electric and plug-in hybrid cars has widened dramatically with more than 10 of the best-selling manufacturers within the UK now offering an electric model as part of its line-up.

Furthermore, a number of plug-in and electric cars are set to launch in the next twelve months, and with the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant now guaranteed until 2018 and significant growth in the charging network across the UK, an electric car is now an attractive and viable option for a large number of motorists.

Take a look below at Trusted Dealers’ guide to electric vehicles (EVs).

Electric cars versus hybrids

EVs have no combustion engine, only an on-board electric battery which provides power through an re-chargeable electric motor, charged through an electricity supply. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are part battery and part conventional cars. Like EVs, plug-in hybrids can be charged from an electricity supply and driven like an electric car, or the on board engine can be used if the electric battery is depleted.

GoElectricShould I buy one?

If you’re considering purchasing an EV, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I park the car off the street? You’ll need access to a garage, drive or other off-street parking area in order to recharge your electric car overnight.
  • Do I have access to an electrical charging point for the car? There is now help available for those who would like to install an EV charging point in their home.
  • Is my daily mileage less than 100 miles? Most electric cars have a range of approximately 100 miles.
  • Do I want to buy a new or nearly-new car? Electric cars are all relatively new cars.

If your answer to most of the above questions is ‘yes’, you are a good candidate to purchase an electric car. However, there are ways to get around some of the questions, for example, if you do not have access to off-street parking, the latest government funding allows householders to apply for a public on-street charge point close to their home. For further information click here.

Driving range

The driving range of EVs is worth serious consideration. If you are thinking about purchasing an electric car, your driving mileage must be around 100 miles or less per day. A regular commute is well suited to an electric car because a driver will know what to expect when it comes to distance travelled, road congestion, road conditions etc, which will hopefully prevent them from getting caught out.

What’s available?

Although electric cars have been around for more than a decade, it is only in the past few years that major brands have invested heavily in producing high quality electric models. Models such as the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3 have helped introduce EV motoring to the public, whilst manufacturers have had to look at increasing driving range and reducing vehicle prices to meet the demands of the twenty-first century car-buyer. Now, there are more than 35 high-quality electric cars and vans available to purchase, with lots more due for launch this year and in 2017.

MoneyWhat will it cost me?

It is widely recognised that electric cars are more expensive to buy than their diesel and petrol counterparts, but since 2011, the government has offered buyers of EVs and PHEVs a grant.

From 01 March 2016, a new modified system of Plug-in Vehicle Grants (PiCGs) will be introduced which will offer two rates:

  • Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) – the grant will fall by 50% from a maximum £5,000 to £2,000.
  • EVs – the grant will be reduced by £500 to a maximum of £4,500 and PiCGs will be awarded using a new EV classification system depending on the level of CO2 emissions and EV-only capable range.


Category CO2 emissions Zero emission range Grant awarded
1 Less than 50g/km 70 miles minimum £4,500
2 Less than 50g/km 10-69 miles £2,500
3 Between 50-75g/km At least 20 miles £2,500


Category 2 and 3 models with a list price of more than £60,000 will not be eligible for the PiCG, but all Category 1 vehicles will be eligible regardless of the cost. The new grant scheme will run until March 2018 or until a certain number of each grant has been awarded.

Leasing an EV

Due to the fact EVs have a higher purchase price than normal petrol or diesel cars, but are cheaper to run, leasing an electric car might be a better option. Furthermore, leasing an EV takes away the uncertainty surrounding the resale value of the car. The downside of leasing an EV is that you’ll pay a higher monthly fee than a petrol or diesel car, plus leasing prices for EVs will also be affected by the changes in the PiCG which come into effect from March 2016. For further information, click here.

Running costs

Running an electric car is much cheaper than running a conventional car. You’ll pay no road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty), saving around £145 per year, no fuel tax and you’ll be eligible for the Ultra Low Discount Scheme (ULED) which exempts EVs from the London Congestion Charge. Due to the competitive price of electricity and the efficiency of the vehicles, fuel costs can be as low as 3 pence per mile, so for an annual mileage of around 10,000 miles, switching from a conventional vehicle to an electric car or van could save you £800 in fuel costs per year.

EV3Charging an EV

There are three main EV charging speeds: Slow charging (up to 3kW) best suited for 6-8 hours overnight, fast charging (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours and rapid charging units (43-50kW) which provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes.

Although it is possible to charge your electric vehicle from a domestic socket, for example in your garage, it is a slow and potentially dangerous process, especially at older properties. If you are considering charging your vehicle at home, it is important to have your domestic electricity circuits and wiring checked first by an experienced and qualified electrician.

When you purchase an EV, it’s recommended that you install a dedicated vehicle charging socket at your home designed to work with your electric car. A 32 amp unit can charge up to 30-60% faster than a conventional socket. Government grants are available towards the cost of having a charging point installed in or near to your home. For more information, click here.

EVChargeFinding an electric charge point

As a result of sustained government and private investment, the UK network of EV charging points has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to more than 9,500 in December 2015. The proportion of charger types has also changed dramatically during that time with an increase in high power (rapid) units being installed across the UK.

If you need to locate an electric charge point whilst on the move, there are a number of websites which map out the various publicly accessible charging points across the UK. This includes on-street charging points in city centres, high-voltage fast-chargers and rapid-chargers at service stations on the motorway network., not only tells you where the charging points are, it also tells you the kW output of that specific charging point and the type of connecter required to charge at that location.

Posted by Leana Kell on 15/02/2016