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Why you can't afford to ignore Electric Vehicles

Did you know that if you drive 10,000 miles per year, charging an electric car could save you up to £1000 per year compared with running a Petrol or Diesel car?1

While the initial purchase price of an electric car may be higher than a traditional petrol or diesel car, the fuel savings can be significant. With the rapidly rising cost of oil and the impending ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, you really can't afford to ignore them anymore.

In this article we want to look at the EV from all angles in order to demystify technology a little, look at the past, current trends, the future and what you can expect when buying and running an EV.

Article Index:

  • History of the electric vehicle
  • Why are EV’s important in the 21st century?
  • Current Trends
  • Current consumer thoughts about EV’s
  • Pros and cons of EV’s
  • Types of Electric Vehicle
  • Running an EV (cost and charging)
  • Demystifying charging
  • Types of chargers
  • The cost of fuel vs electricity

Petrol and diesel vehicles are in many ways precious to the auto buying public. They have been with us a long time and everyone naturally hates being forced to change - even when it all seems for a good cause. The Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) on many levels still remains a bit of an unknown quantity.

“Electric cars and vans will be cheaper to make than fossil-fuel vehicles in every light vehicle segment across Europe from 2027”

BloombergNEF

Even now, EV’s are cheaper to run than a fossil-fuel driven vehicle.   In fact, over the next 5 years, as BloombergNEF have found in their study, we are likely to see an increase in performance, charging infrastructure and a real fall in car price2.

It is good to know that most experts and commentators in the car industry accept that while there is need for development in technology and infrastructure in many areas, the EV has some great benefits. Over the next decade, demand is likely to ensure further technological development and so create an optimistic future.

Like all changes which need big investment, a good buy demands knowledge and preparation. So, let’s prepare...

A history of the Electric Car

This may come as a little bit of a shock but electric cars were invented before the petrol car. It was first developed in 1832 in the Netherlands and America.

As can be seen from the graphic below, electric vehicles were invented originally in 1832 – well before anyone had considered petrol and diesel. And it became popular for the same reasons it is becoming essential today: it offered cleaner and greener travel, it was a smooth ride and, eventually it was found to be so much cheaper than its fuel reliant cousin. However, when the price of petrol fell in 1912, the market leader became fossil fuel cars. The first production of the first EV’s ended around 1935.

Electric Car Development Timeline

  • 1832 - First small scale electric car
  • 1870 - First successful electric car in the UK
  • 1899 - Electric cars became popular for the same reason we see today
  • 1901 - World's first hybrid car built by Porsche
  • 1912-35 - Electric cars fall in popularity due to Henry Ford's cheaper petrol-driven car
  • 1968 - Petrol prices soar, triggering renewed interest in electric vehicles
  • 1973-79 - Car manufacturers experiment with EV Car development, but this interest eventually dissipates due to concerns over limited range
  • 1992 - Introduction of new 'green' regulations in the USA trigger new research and developments
  • 1997 - Toyota introduce the Prius, the first modern hybrid car. This goes on sale worldwide in 2000
  • 2006 - Tesla produces an electric sports car with a range of 200 miles. This triggers other car manufacturers into making new developments
  • 2010 - General Motors releases the first plug-in hybrid and Nissan releases the LEAF

Information source:  https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car

Interest in electric road transport returned at the end of the 1960’s and 1970’s, but this was short-lived (1968 – 1979).

It has really been the issues of global warming which have propelled it into the limelight for a third time. Following the new US green regulations in the 1990’s, the modern day development of the electric vehicle was revitalised and this development has subsequently continued through the 21st century. 

Why are EV’s important in the 21st century?

  1. The biggest factor has to be its green credentials. Greenpeace are behind the electric car (they emit 25% less carbon) while it is estimated that road transport in the UK accounts for 30% of our carbon footprint3.
  2. As we will see below, EV’s are good value for money. Running costs are much better than fossil-fuel vehicles and are likely to get even better in coming years.
  3. Despite popular ideas, fuel powered cars have never been efficient. A lot of valuable energy just turns to heat and noise causing a lot of waste. The electric engine however is highly impressive in this regard. It is considered to be 77%3 efficient - or to put it another way, it can cover double the miles using the same amount of energy.

    Greenpeace accept that the electric car is of yet not perfect – there is still a great deal of room for development and new technology, but the fact that it can emit 25% less carbon – is something to hold onto.

    Current trends

    Like all industries across the globe, car manufacturers were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2022, but now it is thrilling to see the auto-world could be bouncing back to something approaching full strength4.

    As the threat of global warming has intensified, the need for greener technology and eco-friendly behaviours has increased during the 21st century. Consequently, real investment has poured into the future of the electric car in an effort to negate the use of fossil fuels. New investment both in time and money over the next ten years will lead to a greater range of cars for consumers to choose from, higher performance and a more streamlined infrastructure (such as charging points, factory processes and logistics).

    Electric Car Registrations UK

    There is continuing development within the electricity industry to ensure that the infrastructure is as clean – as far as sustainability goes – as possible. For that reason, we can expect the electricity grid to continue to get cleaner and cleaner3.

    Consumer thoughts and feelings about EV’s

    Cost of Electric Cars

    A poll of 15,000 drivers by the AA in 20185 found that 81% feel that electric cars are too expensive. As an example, the Volkswagen Golf and ID3 cost £23,360 and £28,370 respectively.  That’s £5000 difference. Another example: the Mini Hatchback in 2021 cost £16,605 and its electric equivalent cost £26,000. It is hoped that as demand increases and factory processes get better, EV costs will fall. It is hoped that by 2027 EV’s will in fact be cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles.

    Electric Car Range and charging

    Similar research carried out by NFU mutual this year6 found that nearly half of 1000 drivers surveyed had concerns about EV range (i.e., the distance an electric car can travel without being charged) and also the amount of charging points available.

    The survey also found concerns were linked to where you were located in the UK. For instance, a lower percentage of London drivers had concerns about the lack of chargers. 68% of drivers living in Wales had real concerns.

    A more optimistic finding was the fact that 29% of those surveyed would consider buying an electric car in the next five years.

    Pros and cons of buying an EV

    So let’s look at the real facts as put forward by ezoomed.

    Pros and Cons: buying an EV

    Pros

    Cons (current)

    Greener: It is estimated road transport currently creates 30% of the total carbon emissions in the UK

    Expensive to buy: They remain very expensive to buy. 

    Less running costs: EV’s are cheaper to run than its fossil fuel cousins by quite a margin

    Shortage of charging points: The amount of charging points is still woefully restricted

    Lower Maintenance costs: BEV’s have less moving parts than an internal combustion engine (ICE)

    Restricted model choice: In comparison to fossil fuel cars, choice of model is still limited. 

    Less risk of Breakdown: Again because of less moving parts

    Limited availability: However, as demand increases so will availability

    Capacity for Solar: This can reduce overall costs when charging from home

     

    Tax benefits: Grants for car and charging and no congestion charge. No road tax.

    Lower noise pollution: EV’s are silent

    Stunning acceleration: EV’s deliver maximum torque

    Smoother drive: Smoother and more refined drive

     

    Info source: https://www.ezoomed.com/blog/buy-new/electric-vehicles-pros-and-cons/

     

    Types of Electric Vehicle

    The good news is that most of the leading car manufacturers have ventured down the electric route and are offering their own specific models. So, in a very short time since the re-birth of the electric car at the beginning of the 21st century, consumers can see real options and an element of choice. But before getting to specific models, there are also four different types of electric car on offer:

    Types of Electric Vehicle (EV)

    Mild hybrid Electric Vehicles

    These vehicles are not really hybrids as described below. They have a very small battery pack on board which improves efficiency, boosts acceleration a little, improves fuel economy and reduces carbon emissions. But they can’t really be driven as an electric car. As well as performing much the same as an ordinary car, they sell for about the same price.

    Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    HEV’s allow for driving by electricity or fossil fuels. It cannot be plugged into an external source of electricity (it is powered when driving by petrol), and, as it has a very small electric battery, there is only a small range in electric mode. Great for town driving, lower carbon emissions and tax benefits.

    Battery Electric Vehicle

    Often termed a pure electric car, it does not have an internal combustion engine (ICE). With all the green benefits, the BEV runs silently and smoothly with excellent acceleration. Regenerative braking also improves vehicle efficiency and range. Most recently, BEV’s have been developed which have a range of up to 300 miles.

    Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    A PHEV also provides reduced carbon emissions. But it has a much larger battery on-board that is used to propel the vehicle in its own right as well as support the ICE. As the name suggests, it has the capacity to be charged externally. The range is better than a HEV but unlikely to be above 40 miles with current models

     

    Info source: https://www.ezoomed.com/blog/buy-new/types-electric-vehicles/

    https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/electric-cars/choosing/types-of-electric-vehicles-evs-explained/

    Hybrid cars (offer fuel power and electric power) allow consumers to get used to electric vehicles at an easy pace instead of having to make a sudden change to a new way of driving. Hybrids are also useful during a period when prices are falling, performance is advancing and the overall EV infrastructure is still being streamlined. Some consumers will choose hybrid because it gives the backup of a petrol powered vehicle if things do not go to plan.

    Overall though performance in battery mode (especially range) still does not match that of a BEV.

    Cost of Running/Owning an Electric Car

    Recharging your car at public stations

    At public EV charging points consumers will swap price per litre for cost per kWh (a kilowatt hour). You will soon see different kWh at different charging stations so you can make a choice as to what is the cheapest option for you.

    Calculating overall cost is simple:  multiply electricity unit price by the kWh capacity of the car. However, just as if you were filling with fuel, the cost is likely to be less than the amount calculated as your battery is unlikely to be completely empty. Instead of MPG (Miles per gallon) you will have kWh/100mi (the amount of kWh needed to drive 100 miles) but this also depends on how the car is driven and the fundamental driving conditions.

    EV’s are cheaper to run

    But charging an electric car is still cheaper than running a car on fossil fuel per mile, even though the cost of charging your car via a public rapid charge has increased by 21% over the last nine months. Clearly if you are charging your car at home you are going to notice hefty rises too. But it would be unfair to lay this blame on the technology of the EV itself, currently all fuels are experiencing unheard of rises in price.

    In 2022, charging your electric car is nearly half the cost per mile when compared with an average petrol driven family car.

    RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams has quoted that even with current environmental factors “…the electric vehicle still represents excellent value for money”

    In their investigations the RAC have found that, depending on residential tariffs, charging at home can be a lot cheaper than charging at a public charge point. This is partly due to the fact that you will be taxed (VAT) in public places.

    Demystifying charging

    Electric Car Charger

    The way an electric vehicle is charged can be split into three categories:

    In-car or external

    Some hybrid cars are charged when the vehicle is driven by fuel. For this reason, models of this type do not have point on the vehicle to allow for external charging. In an all-battery car (BEV no fossil fuel – just electric driven), recharging the battery is through an external charge point.

    Home and public

    The amount of charging points is still far too low in the UK but we are already seeing growth in the number of charging points in public areas. They can be found in service stations, hotels, car parks and supermarkets.

    When you charge your car at a public charger, there will be a fee for doing so. Also, when charging publicly it is more likely you will subscribe to a provider and pay for the points as you need them but pay-as-you-go are slowly becoming available.

    Charging your EV at Home

    A recent survey by Zap Map6 found there to be over 400,000 charging points in residential properties. At the moment, you can claim a grant from the government to help finance having a charging point installed.

    If you are thinking of charging your car from home, there will be an upfront charge to cover the cost of a charger but this is likely to be a good investment as it will mean accessibility, peace of mind and lower travelling costs in the future. Costs are between £400 and £1500 plus installation fees. You can also claim a grant off the government (The electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme). You may also be able to get the wallbox as part of your new electric car cost.

    Three charging speeds

    Just to make things a little more complex, you are able to charge at different speeds. These speeds are defined as Slow, fast, rapid and ultra-rapid. At the slow end of the range (found at lampposts etc) these chargers will take about 12 hours; Ultra-rapid and Rapid can charge in 20 minutes and 40 minutes respectively (found typically at motorway services etc.); fast chargers are usually found in the home and can give full charging in 6 to 8 hours (dependent upon kilowattage).

    We Need for more EV chargers

    The charger network is gathering speed. In urban areas you can find lampposts you can attain power. They have a blue light to make them easily recognisable. A pop up solar charger point has recently been reported by Yahoo. Designed to be introduced at workplaces, hospitals and sports venues etc - they are easy to install8

    It is true there is need for more charging points but there are already over 30,000 public charging points in the UK and the amount available is increasing at a pace.

    Conclusion

    Electric vehicles in 2022 are cheaper to run but remain much more expensive to buy than their fossil-fuel counterparts. However, as we approach the end of the decade, it is widely believed by experts in the car industry that performance, running costs, charging infrastructure and initial cost will improve significantly over the next 5 years. Hybrid models especially allow consumers to get used to driving and charging EV’s - meaning that when the time comes to let fossil fuel cars go for good, we will all hopefully be able to enjoy a superior driving experience at affordable prices.

     References

    1. https://www.fasterevcharge.com/resources/ev-fuel-savings-calculator/
    2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54981425
    3. https://www.whichev.net/2021/05/13/electric-will-be-cheaper-than-fossil-fuel-cars-by-2027-says-bloombergnef/#:~:text=A%20study%20by%20BloombergNEF%20commissioned%20by%20Transport%20%26,%28B%20segment%29%20will%20follow%20in%202027%2C%20BNEF%20projects.
    4. https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/electric-cars-greener-petrol-cars/
    5. https://descrier.co.uk/business/how-has-covid-19-affected-the-automotive-market/
    6. https://www.theaa.com/about-us/newsroom/what-drivers-think-about-electric-vehicles
    7. https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1614156/electric-cars-petrol-cars-diesel-cars-EV-charging-driving-range-department-for-transport
    8. https://www.zap-map.com/statistics/
    9. https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/news/pop-solar-electric-vehicle-charging-112615461.html