Here are the answers to all your burning questions about electric cars. From batteries to charging, from performance to cost, and not forgetting safety and terms, you’ll find all the electric car questions and answers in this electric cars FAQ.
An electric vehicle (EV) is a vehicle that is either partially or fully powered by an electric battery. The battery is recharged by plugging it into an external power source. There are three different types of EV – pure electric vehicles (PEV), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) and range extended electric vehicles (REEV).
In addition to electric cars, there are also hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. While electric cars are fully electric, hybrid cars are a combination of traditional petrol and electric car technology. They are powered by an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors that use energy from batteries. Self-charging hybrid car batteries are charged primarily via the engine and supplemented by regenerative braking.
Plug-in hybrids can be plugged into the national grid, as with an electric car, and can drive on electricity for a short range (approximately 19-37 miles), saving on the amount of petrol needed.
The typical range of the e:Ny1 on a single full charge is around 256 miles. This range should be enough for everyone from casual drivers to people with a long daily commute. The range of your EV will depend on the model.
The cost of charging an electric car in Europe can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including the location, the time of day, and the specific charging station used. In general, the cost of charging an electric car in Europe can range from around £0.17 per kilowatt hour (kWh) at home to £0.52 per kWh at public charging stations, although prices can be higher or lower depending on the country and the specific circumstances.
The length of time it takes to charge an EV varies. On an average, it takes around 31 minutes to charge from a low-battery warning to 80%. This is when using a rapid charger at 50kW. Charging a typical EV from empty to full at a 7kW charge point takes just under eight hours. These are the type of chargers in service stations or outside supermarkets. The bigger the battery and the slower the charge point, the longer it takes.
Although it’s the future of driving, the technology behind EV batteries is more simple than traditional cars. These are lithium-ion batteries, with positively charged lithium ions carried by a liquid electrolyte. They travel from the anode to the cathode via a separator. The movement discharges electrical current, which powers the vehicle.
People considering switching to an EV car often have concerns about lifespan of the batteries. Lithium-ion batteries do degrade over time. However, you can expect around ten years or 99,419 miles of use from an electric car. Performance doesn’t suffer much as the battery degrades, but range may shorten over time.
Electric cars have electric motors that power the vehicle. This is instead of the internal combustion engine in traditional petrol or diesel-powered vehicles. Instead of refuelling at a petrol station, the EV battery is recharged via grid electricity. This is done either through a wall socket or at a dedicated electric car charge point.
Charging an electric car is different to filling up an traditional car with petrol or diesel. Depending on the location, charging starts as soon as you plug in, or you use an app, contactless card or RFID card to get started. When your car is charged, simply unplug it.
Using an electric car charging point at home is the cheapest and most convenient way to charge an EV. Some car manufacturers offer chargers at a discount, or even for free. You would need to decide between a tethered charger with a cable attached, or an untethered unit without.
Also, consider whether you want the charge point on view or hidden away, the length of the charging cable, and access to your home’s Wi-Fi for smart features. If you’re renting a property, you would need permission to install it from your landlord. Once you’ve thought about all these, there are lots of installation packages available online, with installation by engineers thrown in as part of the package.
Running completely out of battery shouldn’t be a problem with most modern EVs. This is because the technology gives plenty of time for you to find a way to charge – and the number of charge points is always increasing. When your battery runs low, you’ll get a warning on the display. Some navigation systems will then kick in and help you find the nearest charger. Even when you’re at 0% charge, you may be able to drive on reserve power for around 5 miles. After that, you’ll only be able to drive at a reduced speed and use basic features. At some point however the car will stop running.
EV servicing costs vary, depending on the vehicle and where you take it to be checked. But in general, EVs require less maintenance than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars. This is because there are fewer parts inside EVs, making maintenance more straightforward. You can expect to pay around 18% less for the full service of an EV, compared to an ICE car.
While electric cars can drive differently to ICE cars in some ways, there aren't many differences between the two, and you don't need any special skills to drive an electric car. One area in which they can differ is acceleration, especially from a standstill, where an EV can be much quicker than in an ICE car.
Most electric cars are automatic – with a few rare exceptions. Some drivers like the familiarity of a gearbox and gearstick. Because of this, some manufacturers have produced EVs with gearboxes and gearsticks. However, this is predicted to stop in the future, as people become more used to driving EVs automatically.
Electric cars can go roughly as fast as their ICE equivalents. High-end sports EVs are faster than city driving models, just as with petrol or diesel models. The average top speed of an EV is 110 mph, which is a little lower than ICE equivalents.
Currently, electric cars are more expensive to insure than ICE cars. This is because EVs still have higher purchase prices than traditional cars. Also, EV replacement parts can be expensive (particularly batteries) and there is less data available for EVs than for ICEs. However, the cheaper the technology becomes, and the more widespread EVs become, the more likely it is that insurance prices will come down. You may be able to find lower prices with an insurance company that specialises in EV insurance.
Yes, electric cars are better for the environment than traditional petrol and diesel cars. EVs don’t have tailpipes producing emissions like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and small particulate matter, which reduces air pollution.
Generally, electric cars are as safe as ICE vehicles. Some people may be concerned by the fact EVs contain flammable batteries and high voltage electric systems. However, EVs are built to meet the same strict regulations as traditional cars and are usually assessed by Euro NCAP. EV batteries are well-protected, mounted low and as far away as possible from likely impact areas. And safety systems can isolate the battery if a crash occurs and disconnect power.
One of the main concerns over EV car batteries is whether they can explode. While this can happen, it’s very rare – EVs are no more likely to explode than other vehicle types. EVs are equipped with cooling systems to prevent fires and explosions.