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Electric Cars 101: A First-Timer’s Guide to Owning an EV

BymeganwilsonPR

Jul 31, 2023 #Motoring

With more than 31,700 new electric cars registered in June 2023, accounting for 17.9% of all vehicle registrations across the country, EVs are increasingly at the top of British drivers’ wish-lists.

As of July 2023, there are more than 810,000 fully electric models on UK roads, as well as some 510,000 plug-in hybrids. So as the number of EVs continues to rise, increasing numbers of motorists are now seriously considering making the switch to electric.

If you’re a motorist doing your homework on buying your first electric car, there are several factors to take into consideration before making your purchase. cinch, the faff-free way to buy a car online, guides you through what you need to know about owning an EV.

Types of electric vehicles

First things first, ‘electric vehicle’ is an umbrella term that refers to any kind of car that’s powered solely or partially through electricity.

This means there are different types of EV available on the market. Sam Sheehan, motoring editor at cinch, said: “When thinking about electric cars, the first model that’s likely to spring to mind is the battery electric vehicle (BEV).

“BEVs don’t have a combustion engine, and with no exhaust, they produce no emissions. So, if you’re trying to play your role in preserving the environment, it’s certainly an option worth considering.

“BEVs are powered by batteries which you can either charge at home or by using the public charging network. Even when they’re in action, BEVs can generate electricity through braking, meaning extra power can be regenerated into your battery when out on the road.”

Another type of electric car, but which doesn’t rely exclusively on electricity to get the tyres turning, is the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

PHEVs feature both internal combustion engines (ICE) and an electric traction motor. Most urban and short trips can be powered by battery, while longer drives and more intense, short bursts of acceleration, for instance, will be powered by the internal combustion engine.

Some PHEVs have the capacity to use the ICE to recharge the battery meaning a car can run for much longer.

Charging options

While fuelling your petrol or diesel car never changes – you always have to visit a petrol station for this – replenishing the battery of your EV comes with a few different options.

One of the most common methods to charge your electric vehicle is at home. As well as saving you time when out and about, home charging can spare you a few quid too. In fact, according to the RAC, fully recharging your EV at home will cost you £6 on average.

One way to do it is to connect your EV to a domestic three-pin socket through a cable that runs inside your house. While it’s a valuable solution in an emergency or when staying at a friend’s place, it shouldn’t be adopted as a long-term charging method.

Instead, a more reliable and safer alternative is to install a home charger. Installation costs are around £1000. To ease the cost, electric car owners living in flats and rented accommodation can apply for an EV chargepoint grant. This is a government-funded scheme that provides funding of up to 75%, or a £350 discount, to help cover the expenses of domestic installations.

If you have no place to fit a charger at home, don’t worry – there are plenty of public chargers across the UK. As of May 2023, there were roughly 43,600 public EV chargers across the UK, which represents a 38% increase compared to 2022’s figures.

What’s more, there are some supermarkets that offer free EV charging, including Aldi, Sainsbury’s and selected Asda stores. So, as you push your trolley from aisle to aisle, your electric car can get a power boost at no extra cost.

Maintenance

An attractive advantage of owning an EV is that it’s much easier to maintain than its fuel-powered counterparts. Why? Because electric cars have fewer moving mechanical elements that need servicing.

This means that your trips to the garage will be much quicker and potentially less expensive, as the drive train in an EV has barely 20 components. Internal combustion engines, instead, contain hundreds of moving parts, so there’s a greater chance that something may need fixing at some point.

EV maintenance checks will include assessing the condition of your battery, brakes, tyres and wipers. So, if everything is working as it should be, you won’t have to break the bank to keep your car in great condition.

Government incentives

Finally, it’s worth noting that the UK government has introduced several incentives to encourage drivers to buy electric cars.

We have already mentioned the EV chargepoint grant for people living in flats and rented accommodation, but that’s only one of the many schemes currently available.

For example, there’s a workplace charging scheme in place to support businesses, charities and public sector organisations in sustaining the expenses of EV charger installation outside their offices. This way, companies can allow employees to charge their cars for the duration of the working day without any fuss.

Additionally, several cities across the country have also implemented clean air zones within their town centres to improve air quality, protect the environment and preserve people’s wellbeing.

In the capital, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is set to expand its borders on 29th August to include all London boroughs. If you’re driving a fuel-powered vehicle that doesn’t comply with ULEZ’s emission rules, you’ll have to pay a £12.50 daily fee.

But if you’re at the wheel of a fully electric vehicle, which automatically meets the ULEZ requirements, you’ll be able to navigate the city at no extra cost.