5 things to know before you buy your first electric car

5 things to know before you buy your first electric car

The rise of electric cars has been met in some quarters by a reluctance to change from fossil fuels and in others by general approval. It is certainly true that an electric vehicle (EV) has many advantages and these outweigh most of the arguments against.

Over the course of the last ten years, after a shaky start, electric cars have improved considerably. The technology has matured and the designs are more attractive. Increasingly, electric vans are being used for local delivery and the day when we see commercial and public service vehicles powered by electricity is not far off.

So is now the time for the private car owner to consider buying into the EV market? Here are some points to consider:

Range Is Not Such A Big Deal

How many of us undertake long trips in our cars? Certainly, those that travel our highways and byways for work drive many miles that may make interim charge-ups an issue, but the reality is most daily journeys are rarely more than 100 miles and usually much less. In a government sponsored National Travel survey from 2014, the daily national average mileage for private cars was eight. That’s right: 8.

We pop to the shops and we suffer the school run; we go the local shopping centre or visit nearby friends. Rarely do we travel the country and even if we do, we are recommended to take a break en route. A fast charger at motorways services can in some cases deliver an 80% charge in a half-hour. Many models can now manage 200-300 miles without a top-up; sometimes more. For the most part, it’s not a big deal after all.

Home Charging

Early EV examples came with a charging cable that plugged into the mains using a three-pin plug. They are still supplied but they are not the best and should be considered for emergency charging only, anywhere there’s a point. There is a better way.

These days home-charging has come on in leaps and bounds. Dedicated charging wall boxes wired into the home ring main can now be installed that use specific types of connections to speed up the charging time considerably. Remember, when the cars is at home and not in use, it can be on charge and ready with a full battery. You can’t ‘overcharge’ them, by the way. Further to this, most electricity suppliers now offer tariffs for customers who use electric cars, making the most of off-peak electricity.

They Are Good To Drive

Simple too. There are no gears and the power comes in instantly. No turbo-lag or waiting for the revs to rise before the power kicks in. Some models have very brisk performance indeed although constantly putting the foot down hard will affect the amount of electricity used, just as regular fuel consumption goes up.

EV’s have dashboard driving guides to help owners get the most mileage from their batteries and also to keep tabs on the fuel remaining; just like a petrol gauge.

They Should Be Cheaper To Service

Conventional motors have many thousands of oily components, most of them subject to wear and tear. This means professional garage servicing is required and also, where applicable, the annual journey to the local MOT testing station.

EV’s are much simpler mechanically. They have far fewer moving parts and far less opportunity for component failure, which should make them cheaper and simpler to run in the long term. Your usual car servicing garage will be up to speed on the maintenance requirements. It’s worth noting that early concerns about battery pack longevity have proved baseless. Properly maintained, an electric car is capable of a six-figure mileage with very little drop in battery capacity.

Quiet And Efficient

Right now, electric cars tend to be more expensive than their internal combustion counterparts, although government grants are still available for pure battery-electric cars (not hybrids); so that helps. Savings are however made on the cost of fuel, so it’s swings and roundabouts, really.

The added extra benefit is virtual silence. Electric cars are quiet. That’s makes for a pleasant journey, a relaxing drive and emission free travelling. Certainly, electric cars are not for everyone but, for the most part, they are definitely worth considering if journeys are predominately local and of course they make absolute sense for two-car families. It’s a thought.


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