Check out the EVNow Electric Vehicle FAQ. Comprehensive information answering your most commonly asked questions on electric cars in 2021.
Electric car information
What is an EV?
EV stands for Electric Vehicle. Any type – so this could mean an electric car, van or truck.
What does BEV stand for?
This means ‘Battery Electric Vehicle’. Some electric vehicles are powered by a Hydrogen Fuel Cell – they do have a (very small) battery but it’s not the main power source.
How does an electric car work?
It uses electricity to charge a large onboard battery, which powers an electric motor. There is no fuel tank or gasoline. Checkout our electric car guide for more information.
What is regeneration in an electric car?
Regenration (or regen for short) is when the EV uses the motor to slow down the vehicle, instead of the brakes. This has two benefits:
1 – Energy is returned into the battery (instead of being lost as heat through braking friction)
2- Your brake pads and discs last longer through reduced use
What is Range Anxiety
Range anxiety is the fear of running out of battery capacity before your trip is completed!
This will reduce as more charging stations are installed and EV range increases (which it does every year).
Are electric cars better than gasoline / petrol or diesel cars?
Electric cars really are better. They accelerate faster and are smoother and quieter. They are super easy and responsive to drive. They are cheaper to run and don’t emit any pollution from the car. And there’s no vehicle tax in the UK!
Is driving an electric car different?
If you drive an auto you will feel right at home. There are no gears and 2 pedals the same as your gasoline car. However there will be more driving modes: most EVs have at least ‘D’ which will feel like your auto, and ‘B’ which adds more regen braking.
Some EVs (like the Nissan Leaf) also have a ‘one-pedal’ driving mode – which means they have more regen and will come to a complete stop without using the brake. But you can turn it off if you don’t want to use this.
Are electric cars more reliable?
Yes. There is much less to go wrong with an electric motor. An EV has 20 moving parts whereas a combustion engined car has around 2,000. There is no need for oil or fluid changes and servicing requirements are minimal. Think about what could go wrong with your current car – gearbox, clutch, flywheel, exhaust, cooling system, starter motor, etc. Most electric motors have a design life of at least 500,000 miles.
What are the disadvantages of driving an electric car?
In almost all respects an electric car is better than a gasoline (petrol car). The main disadvantage is the limited range and also the limited number of public charging stations. So this means you may have to do more planning for long journeys.
PHEVs and Hybrids
Electric car costs
Can I charge my electric car at home?
Yes – and this is highly recommended. You will need to get a home charging unit (wallbox) installed. These are typically rated at 7kW and so will charge you car much faster than using the standard home electricity circuits, which should only be used occassionally.
You can find electric car installers at http://www.ev-directory.net. Search for electric car chargers near me if you are looking for a local installer.
Should I charge my electric car every night?
You don’t need to do this. EV manufacturers recommend you keep the battery between 20-80% charged as much as possible.
How long does it take to charge an electric car at a public charge point?
There is no single answer to this question. It depends on:
- The capacity of your car’s battery (in kWh)? The larger it is the longer it will take to charge.
- What type of public charger you are using? These are DC Fast or Level 2. DC is MUCH faster – typically 50kW up to 150kW, whereas level 2 will usually be 7kW. In Europe these are called Rapid and Fast charging respectively.
Do electric cars lose charge when parked?
They do lose a very tiny amount of charge but in daily use you won’t notice this. When leaving it unused for extended periods your car may have a ‘power-saving’ mode – check your user manual.
Should I drain the battery right down before recharging it?
No. It’s not a good idea to let the EV battery drain to zero or near-zero before charging. It’s recommended to keep the battery between 20-80% charged – the optimum range.
Do electric cars charge when driving?
No they don’t.
Running and operating
What happens if your electric car runs out of battery charge?
Electric cars have battery management systems so they won’t just stop suddenly. You will get at least 2 warnings.
Firstly a ‘low battery’ warning will appear (around 15 miles) and you will be able to continue to drive the car normally. Then when your range gets extremely low (perhaps 2-3 miles) the car will change into a ‘get you home’ mode. This will usually reduce the power and top speed (and also turn off the a/c or heating) to maximise the remaining range. Every car will differ slightly in the warnings displayed – so check your user manual.
Ultimately the car will just gently slow to a stop and you will need to get the vehicle towed. We don’t recommend you do this for safety and other reasons.
What can go wrong with electric cars?
In general electric cars are more reliable than internal combustion engine (ICE) gasoline/petrol cars. This is because there are massively fewer parts which means they are less complicated, so less to go wrong. The motor will be good for at least 500,000 miles.
Some individual models may have reports of isolated issues (e.g. there are some reports of failing touchscreens on early versions of the Tesla Model S) so you should check on a car-by-car basis.
Are electric cars better for the environment?
Yes – electric cars are better for the environment than gasoline/petrol or diesel. Research has demonstrated this. There is zero emissions from the tailpipe, but even if the electricity used is generated by a ‘dirty’ fuel such as coal this still works out better overall.
What licence do you need drive an electric car?
You need a full automatic licence.
Can you learn to drive in an electric car?
Yes you can. When you pass your test you will get an automatic licence, which means you cannot drive a stick-shift / manual car (in the UK).
You can find driving instructors who use electric cars at www.ev-directory.net
Do electric cars need oil changes?
No. There is no engine oil, transmission oil or radiator fluid. This is one reason why servicing is cheaper.
Service items such as a/c coolant, brake pads and windscreen wash are still required.
Do electric cars need MOT?
Yes an MOT is required in the UK. The cost and MOT interval is the same as every other car.
Is there any risk in daily use of an electric car?
In normal use there is minimal risk, same as in a gasoline car. Car manufacturers undertake very stringent safety testing and approvals. The same applies to the charging stations. Common sense should prevail – don’t stick your finger or anything metal into the charging ports on the car or the charging station.
Can I wash an electric car?
You can use your electric car in exactly the same way you would use a gasoline / petrol car. You can wash it, load it up and drive it as normal.
Do electric car batteries catch fire?
In around 2015 there were a small number of well-publicised electric car fires, the most obvious examples being Tesla and the Chevrolet Volt. There’s not much public data, but it suggests the chance of a fire in an EV is much less than a gas/petrol car.
CNN reported that “About 174,000 vehicle fires were reported in the United States in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the National Fire Protection Association. Virtually all of those fires involved gasoline powered cars.
Tesla claims that gasoline powered cars are about 11 times more likely to catch fire than a Tesla. It says the best comparison is fires per 1 billion miles driven. It says the 300,000 Teslas on the road (2018 figure) have been driven a total of 7.5 billion miles, and about 40 fires have been reported. That works out to 5 fires for every billion miles traveled, compared to a rate of 55 fires per billion miles traveled in gasoline cars.“