Buying or leasing your first electric vehicle (EV) is a big step. You’ve always driven a car that you had to fill with petrol or diesel, so this is going to be a new experience. Different in some ways, yes: but the car you’re sitting is just like any you’re used to – and you’re still driving on the same roads, with the same rules.
In fact, living with an EV is just as easy – easier, even – as one of those old-fashioned gas-guzzlers
Changing from fuel filling to electric charging
The biggest difference you’ll find between running an EV and a car with an internal combustion engine (or ICE, as it’s known), is that refuelling is whole new ball game. If you have off-street parking for your EV, and have a wall box charger fitted, you’ll never have to visit a petrol station again and empty your wallet at the till (especially if you top up with snacks while queuing to pay).
You will still pay for the electricity to charge your EV, of course, but it will be at the same rate as your standard domestic tariff. So instead of shelling out anything between £50 and £130 for an ICE fill-up, you’ll pay around a tenner (at 17.2p per kWh) to charge a 60kWh battery.
If you ever drive further than 150-200 miles, you will have to use a public charger at a motorway service station or car park, which is more expensive when you leave your own home. If you use an ultra-rapid charger, it should take just 15 minutes, but you will pay up to 69p per kWh. Even with more expensive electricity, charging is cheaper, easier and a lot more pleasant than filling a car with smelly old petrol.
Electric cars are quieter
Modern petrol and diesel engines have made huge strides in recent decades in terms of the noise they make. Even diesels – which used to be positively agricultural in the sounds they made – are pretty quiet these days.
But no ICE car could be as quiet as an EV. It’s a little eerie at first, with just a faint high-pitched whine accompanying you as you eat up the miles, but you soon get used to the calmness of the whole experience. Many EV drivers have also reported that they feel calmer in a car: driving can be stressful enough, so anything that can perhaps help take the edge off has to be good, right? Saving your mental health and the planet, all at the same time.
There's more space in an electric car
The battery that supplies the power for an EV is heavy, so the weight of an electric car is pretty similar to that of an ICE vehicle, despite the removal of a big metal lump of an engine from the front (usually).
But what the removal of an engine does is free up a lot of space in a car. What was previously the engine bay can become an extra boot. Or, more radically, car designers can completely dispense with the traditional ‘three-box’ (engine bay, cabin, boot) shape of an automobile. With the batteries located under the floor of an EV, and a motor on one of the wheel axles, a lot more space above is available to use. We’re already seeing some big, airy cabins in new EV models, which makes travelling by car so much more pleasurable.
Electric cars have less things to go wrong
The engine in a conventional petrol or diesel car alone has over 2,000 separate components, so the chances of something going wrong are much higher than in an EV, which needs less than 20 parts to make it run.
EVs still have bodywork, suspension systems, etc that can need repairing, but there’s a lot less that can go wrong with them. You’ll also have to get your EV serviced in the same way as an ICE car, but there’s no oil in an electric car, so no oil changes to pay for.
Electric cars are safer
Safety standards among new models launched by carmakers are very high these days. They’re independently crash tested and rated by EuroNCAP, so the safety standards of new EV models won’t change. If anything, EVs are often launched with high equipment specifications, including the latest electronic driver assistance safety features, which fit right in to the modern, technological feel of an EV.
And talking of tech…
Electric cars have more tech
In our fast-moving, always-connected society, technology has become very important to how we live. Car companies have struggled to keep up: there’s a new generation of smartphone every year, but a new generation of a car model usually takes seven years.
And with our personal tech so important to us, carmakers developing EV models realise that they’re going to have to really wow us. The good news is that there is now more space on a dashboard to feature large screens, with lots of ways of displaying information. The Honda e, with a screen that covers the entire width of the dashboard (including a couple of screens relaying live video images from small cameras that replace wing mirrors) is a shape of things to come.
And while self-driving vehicles are still some way off, they will be EVs. The additional space that is now available to car designers and engineers means that there’s more room for processors and the additional electronics that will be required for autonomous cars.
Electric cars are planet friendly
Running an electric car doesn’t absolve you of recycling, or avoiding single-use plastic, or the myriad other ways we all need to change to limit humanity’s damage to the planet. But a big part of your carbon footprint is rubbed away. You’re making a positive change every time you travel in a car.