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The ultimate guide to owning an electric car

The ultimate guide to owning an electric car

Your guide to owning an electric car


Following COP26 and the UK Government's other green initiatives, electric car ownership has continued to grow over the past few years, with more than 175,000 electric cars registered in 2020. Making the switch from traditional petrol and diesel cars to electric isn't easy so we thought we'd answer some of your burning questions about owning an electric car.


What is an electric car?

An electric car is a vehicle powered completely by a battery and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. The car uses a battery pack to power the electric motor and is charged by being plugged into a domestic wall socket, wall box or charging station.

It's important to remember that a plug-in hybrid and a hybrid electric car are not the same as a fully electric car.

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Is an electric car safe?

As often with new technology, safety is a big concern for many people, and electric cars are no different. Thankfully, similar to any petrol or diesel car, electric cars have to go through rigorous testing, adhere to strict safety standards and pass a number of tests proving this. You can find all safety ratings for both electric and traditional fuel cars on the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) site which runs a five-star safety rating to help consumers easily compare vehicles.

It's important to remember that a plug-in hybrid and a hybrid electric car are not the same as a fully electric car.


What is the driving range for an electric car?

Similar to petrol or diesel cars, the range an electric car can do on one charge will depend on the car. Most electric cars will have a range between 80 and 250 miles, with smaller city cars on the lower end of the scale, family cars in the middle of that range, and luxury high-performance cars at the higher end.

Before purchasing an electric car, check with the manufacturer for their estimated range, and do your own research to understand how existing owners find the range in real-life scenarios.

Electronic car dashboard with mileage and battery charge


Is it possible to get more range from my electric car?

Your electric car's driving range will depend on several factors, including whether or not you have the air conditioning or heating on, and your driving style. With higher speeds and aggressive acceleration, the driving range for your electric vehicle is likely to decrease.

To increase your range, make use of regenerative braking which is likely to reduce your battery charge dropping too quickly.


How do I charge an electric car?

There are 2 main ways to charge your car: at home or a public charging point.

Charging at home

There are effectively 2 options when charging at home; a slow charge or installing a wall box. A slow charge is when you plug your car into a domestic socket using a traditional 3-pin plug. This is simple to use but can take a long time to charge, over 24 hours in some cases. The alternative is to invest in a wall box that is installed either on the side of your house or in a garage. Wall boxes are capable of delivering a much faster charge and are safe and reliable to use.


Public charging points

Found in places such as supermarkets, leisure parks, petrol stations and service stations, public charging points are available for anyone with an electric or plug-in hybrid to use. They offer fast and rapid charging; some will take longer to charge your vehicle than others. Some public points are free while some are paid for so always remember to check before parking and plugging in your vehicle. It's also important to remember that some plugin points require you to use your own charging cable so it's best to always keep a spare in the car.


Electric car being charged outside building


What is a rapid charger?

The quickest way of charging your car, rapid charging points help charge your car quicker than other methods, some providing 80% battery in an hour. They are generally found in public charging points rather than at home and are the best way to charge your electric vehicle quickly.


Where do I charge it?

As mentioned, you can charge your electric car at home or at public charging points. If you're not sure where your nearest public charging point is, check Zap-Map for more information. You'll be able to filter by the type of charging system your car uses, how to pay for charging and whether or not a point is currently available.


Can I charge my electric vehicle in the rain?

Yes! As we all know, electricity and water don't mix. Therefore car manufacturers have waterproofed charging ports to ensure it's safe to charge your electric car in the rain. It's also good to note that charging points won't start emitting electricity until both the vehicle and charging point are firmly connected, providing a barrier between you and the electricity. 


How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Charging at home

Unfortunately, the cost of charging your car at home will all depend on your energy supplier. As the electricity used to charge your electric car comes directly from the grid, it's important that you choose the right energy tariff which will ensure you're not being overcharged. As a rough guide, the average price per kWh is around 17p.

For initial set up costs, the cost of installing a wall box is around £1,000 but with the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), homeowners can reduce the cost by up to £350 up until 31st March 2022. There are grant requirements so always do your research before committing to purchasing a wall box.


Public charging points

The cost of public charging points varies depending on the location and charge point network. You must check any fees before plugging in your electric car so you're not caught out. The price of a public charge will also depend on the charging speed; slow, fast or rapid. Prices are also generally charged by kWh and can range massively from 20p to 50p. Although this doesn't sound like much, for a Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery, a full charge could range between £8 and £20.

Some public charging points also offer subscriptions for cheaper or free charging, such as Tesla owners can use Tesla Supercharger points for free if they purchased the car before 2017.


Electric car dashboard charging display


How long does it take to charge an electric car?

How long it will take to charge an electric car will vary on the type of vehicle and which type of charger is being used. A general rule is, that the larger the battery the longer it will take the vehicle to charge.

Charging at home

In general, charging your vehicle at home for an hour using a wall box will give your electric car approximately 10 to 30 miles in range. 


Public charging stations

Depending on whether the public charging point is fast or rapid, charging your electric car for an hour could give you between 20 and 80 miles in range. Some ultra-rapid chargers can fully charge an electric car in an hour.


Is the battery covered by the warranty?

With battery warranties, they are there to cover the owner if battery performance drops below a certain level. Whether or not a battery is covered by warranty will depend on the manufacturer. For many cars, the warranty is split between the car and the battery itself, such as for a new Nissan Leaf which offers a 36-month/60,000-mile car warranty, and a 96-month/100,000-mile battery warranty. It's very important to remember to read the terms and conditions of any warranty when buying a new or used electric vehicle.


Is an electric vehicle cheaper to maintain?

Yes, electric cars are typically cheaper to maintain as they have fewer engine parts that need maintenance or replacing, such as no oil. Electric cars can therefore be more reliable as they have fewer moving parts to go wrong. All of this means that generally electric cars have lower maintenance costs.

Mechanic working on electric car


What happens if I run out of charge or break down?

It's pretty unlikely that you'll completely run out of charge. But if you do, or if you break down, don't worry. Most breakdown cover providers have been keeping up with the electric car trend and have been training their mechanics to work on electric cars. Some have even installed mobile charging points in their vehicles so they're able to boost your charge to get you to the next major charging point.


Can I charge my electric car abroad?

When travelling in Europe, yes you can charge your electric car. Similar to the UK, there are several different companies operating the charging points so remember to do your research and plan where you can charge and how you pay for each charging point. Check out Chargemap for points across Europe and North America.


Can an electric car tow a caravan?

Although the answer is technically yes, not many electric cars have been type-approved to tow. This is mainly because when an electric car carries extra weight, it decreases its efficiency and reduces its range. Electric cars are also typically heavier than their petrol or diesel counterparts as their battery weighs more which puts more pressure on components such as brakes and suspension. Therefore manufacturers are hesitant to say yes to this question.


Can electric cars drive through water?

Yes, electric cars are just as safe to drive through water as petrol and diesel cars. All cars have a 'wading depth' which is the amount of water the car manufacturer has said is safe to drive through. This information can normally be found in your car's handbook. It's important to remember that no matter what car you drive, trying to drive through the water above the wading depth can cause damage to the vehicle.


Find out more

If you're looking to invest in a used electric car, look no further. Check out our range of electric and plug-in hybrid cars today. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to get in touch and our expert team will be on hand to help you find your perfect next car.

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