Has the electric revolution finally arrived?
Errm, no! In the scheme of things, the percentage of Electric cars on our roads is tiny, but, and it’s a big BUT, there’s been a huge increase in electric car sales over the last few years, so there’s no doubt it’s gathering some momentum.
Drive & Design
So, are drivers missing a trick by not going electric or are we right to be cautious? Well, it’s like everything in life, it depends on your needs and circumstances.
What are they like to drive? Firstly, you won’t know if the engine is on and that’s because it isn’t – it doesn’t have one!! The silence is odd to begin with, but you soon forget that once you get going, especially if like my wife, you have the stereo up so loud you’d not even hear a tractor engine.
The acceleration is instant, there’s none of that lag you experience in a conventional car and this makes it feel really nippy. You also need to get used to keeping your foot on the accelerator as the car wont coast as normal if you take it off, the motor will slow the car. Aside from that, it drives like a normal car and that’s because it is. The suspension, brakes etc. are all as they would be on any car.
From a design perspective, yes, there are some odd looking electric cars. But to be fair, the same can be said for their petrol and diesel cousins. You do however tend to get a more advanced/ futuristic dash on most of the cars, which will display lots of fascinating facts about your charge consumption etc.
Well, clearly there is the environmental benefit of zero CO2 emissions. Yes, people will argue about the emissions to build the cars and that the batteries will pollute the world when they are disposed of etc. and I don’t claim to have any answers here, but less CO2 from our cars is definitely a good thing.
But we’re not all eco warriors, so for those of us not wearing hemp underpants, we’ll be more interested in the benefits to our pockets. In this case, electric really can give some brilliant savings. It’s generally thought that your fuel outlay can reduce by 90% for an average user e.g. if you’re spending £200 a month on petrol/ diesel you could cut this to £20 a month in electric. That’s a pretty big reason to consider electric.
Maintenance is also another area where savings. There’s no engine to service, filters to replace, oil to top up etc. The brakes also get less use due to the motor braking, so they won’t need replacing as often.
Congestion and parking charges are hugely reduced or eradicated with electric vehicles. TFL’s congestion charge is waived if you have an electric car, you just need to apply for your exemption. And in certain areas around the country, parking is also free at the charging points.
The main one people tend to worry about is range. There’s no hiding from this, the range on an electric car is less than a conventional car with a full tank of fuel. However, if you’ve got an average commute, what’s the problem? The average range on a fully electric car is circa 100 miles now, which would do most people.
Charging is probably the biggest issue I have from a practicality perspective. Most of us don’t live in a house with a drive, or work in an office with dedicated parking, therefore charging your car whilst it’s sat there for hours on end becomes tricky. There are grants available for on-street charging points, but this may still not be that practical as it doesn’t guarantee you a space where the charger is. For me, I would say, unless you have a drive at home, full electric probably isn’t right for you.
The government actually gives you money! Yes, I did say that and it is true. It’s a rarity in today’s world, but the government has a grant for low emission vehicles and full electric cars get the maximum level of grant, which is currently £4500. Not to be sniffed at.
In addition to that, there are grants to help with the installation costs of charging points at home, on-street or at work, which make these costs pretty negligible.
Ongoing costs, warranty and battery life. Now this is still a big question mark and the reality is it’s still too early for anyone to be certain of the long-term lifespan of electric cars and vans. We’ve had a 100+ years to get an understanding of how long conventional cars run for, so it will take a while before we understand electric cars that well, by which time we’ll probably be using some kind of nano-cyclonic-hyperdrive anyway. However, the benefit of leasing an electric car is that you’ll be handing the car back before any of that becomes a problem.
Electric cars have come a long way since the milk float and the Gwizz and they are definitely a fantastic option for some people.
Full electric isn’t right for everyone, but maybe a PHEV or Hybrid would be? If you’re considering an Electric Car of some type, then have a look at a sample of what’s available and speak to one of the Vehicleflex team.