A guide to electric vehicles

A guide to electric vehicles

Sales of electric vehicles in the UK have risen considerably over the last few years. As of June 2022, there were approximately 477,000 electric cars on UK roads. With the increase in EV sales and the constant media coverage they are gaining, we understand that consumers are still asking that all-important question ‘is an electric car the most suitable option for my car buying needs?’

We want to help you answer that question and this guide will cover topics such as the pros and cons of buying an electric vehicle to how much they cost to run. If you are thinking about making your next car an electric one read on.

Types of electric vehicles

If you’re just getting started with electric vehicles, you may have noticed there are a few different types on the market. New models are appearing on UK roads so it’s important to understand how they differ so you can choose the right model for you.

  • Battery electric vehicles (BEV) – An electric vehicle in the traditional sense, and there’s no surprise here, these vehicles are powered completely by battery.
  • Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) – Most commonly referred to as hybrids, these EVs are powered by electricity and feature a petrol or diesel engine. These are powered by an internal combustion engine as well as one or more electric motors that use energy stored in batteries.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) – A best-of-both-worlds option for those wanting to dip their toe into electric vehicles. They use batteries to power an electric motor and another fuel to power an internal combustion engine. PHEVs can be charged by plugging into the mains supply.
  • Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) – Still very limited in their circulation, this new form of electric vehicle uses hydrogen for fuel, converting it via fuel cells into electricity which in turn powers an electric motor.
  • Range-extended electric vehicle (RE-EV) – This is a predominantly electric vehicle but includes a small petrol or diesel engine. The big difference between a range-extended electric vehicle and a hybrid is that the fuel engine never drives the wheels – that’s the job of the electric motor.

What are the pros of an electric vehicle?

  • Cleaner environment
  • No congestion charges
  • Decreased running costs compared with non-electric vehicles
  • Reduced noise pollution
  • Increased resale value

One of the most common questions we get asked is “Why are electric cars better for the environment?” EVs don’t emit any exhaust gases, which reduces local air pollution, particularly in overcrowded cities.

What are the cons of an electric vehicle?

Whilst electric vehicles are growing in popularity, they’re not dominating the market…yet. Range anxiety remains the main fear for going fully electric for many, but there are other considerations when making the decision to go fully or partially electric.

  • Charging stations – whilst charging stations are on the rise they’re still not as commonplace as regular petrol stations. Ensuring there is the right sort of charging point in your local area (especially if you don’t have a main-supply plug-in) is important for driving in your area and beyond.
  • Time consumption – charging an electric car takes longer than refuelling. Make sure you factor this process into your lifestyle.
  • Higher initial purchase cost – As technology develops it’s expected that electric vehicles will come down in price but at the moment there is still a large price gap between EVs and fuel vehicles.

Why are electric cars so expensive?

The price of electric vehicles remains high in comparison to typical fuel engines. There are reasons why this remains the case:

  • They’re still a newcomer – whilst electric vehicles have been on the scene for a while, they still feel new and different from the norm. As new petrol and diesel engine cars are still in production (until 2030), electric vehicles aren’t dominating production yet. At this point, the range of models on offer is still limited.
  • Battery technology – Whilst manufacturers are trying to lower the price of key components, it is often the parts, namely the cathode, which are making the production of electric cars expensive. This component, in particular, is responsible for storing and releasing battery power in the vehicle.
  • Servicing and maintenance costs – What makes an electric vehicle service expensive is the technology involved in its maintenance and repair. The usual things to be repaired in electric cars are batteries, electric motors, brakes, tyres, cabling, suspension, and lights.

How to finance an electric car?

You should have very similar options for spreading the cost of your new electric car as with fuel-powered vehicles. These are Hire Purchase Car Finance, PCP Car Finance, and Car Leasing.

You should check with the finance provider that the car’s specification meets their lending criteria such as mileage and particular model of car. Some finance providers may have restrictions on certain models.

How much does it cost to run an electric vehicle?

A great explanation of the running costs for an electric vehicle is best explained by EDF Energy:

Just like traditional fuel engine vehicles, the cost of running an electric vehicle varies depending on the model, make, and specification of the vehicle.

In simple terms, the maths works like this: size of EV’s battery pack × electricity cost of your energy supplier (in pence per kWh) = cost to charge an electric car from empty to full.

If you have a vehicle that is powered by a 77.4kWh battery pack. At the time of writing, British Gas listed the average electricity cost per kWh in the UK as 52p, up from 28p a unit as a response to the ongoing global difficulties in the energy markets.

So, 77.4 × £0.52 = £40.24 (up from £21.67 before the Ukraine invasion and soaring energy prices) gives you the cost of charging the car from empty to full at home.

Rapid charge points are typically found at motorway service stations and can also be free for certain drivers but are generally seen as one of the more expensive options. Because they offer a faster charge and greater convenience, they tend to come at a premium.

Rapid chargers cost 40p/kWh at Lidl, which is about £9.30-£10.70 for 30 minutes of charging (about 90 miles of range).

Are electric vehicles exempt from congestion charges?

Battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are exempt from the London Congestion Charge via the Cleaner Vehicle Discount.

Are electric vehicles tax-free?

Currently, zero-emission cars are exempt from paying any road tax, including the expensive car supplement. Alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids pay a discounted rate of road tax. From 1st April 2025, all of these car fuel types will move to paying a full rate of road tax.

How do you charge electric cars at home?

You have two options when it comes to charging your EV at home.

The first one is to use the charger provided with the vehicle or have a wall box installed. The charger that comes with the car uses a standard 3-pin plug to take power from your domestic supply, this option is simple to use and extremely portable. But these units can take over 24 hours to deliver a full charge and as a result, manufacturers recommend; they are only for ‘emergency use’.

The second, and the better long-term option is a wall box charger. Installed on the side of your house or in a garage, it can deliver faster charging times safely and reliably. It’s also easier to use and doesn’t require numerous cables running from the house.

Will electric vehicles get cheaper?

Yes, they are set to come down in price over the next few years due to the below reasons:

They will become cheaper to make – The price drop is partly due to advancements in batteries as well as carmakers producing more cars.

Second-hand EVs are about to hit the market – As first-time owners come to the end of their PCP or lease deals, these cars will be sold on.

When do all cars have to be electric?

The sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will stop in 2030 and the sale of hybrid vehicles in the UK will end in 2035.

Looking for car finance for your next set of wheels? We are specialists in providing car finance for those who may have experienced bad credit in the past. Apply today and you could be in your new car sooner than you think.