page title icon Electric Car FAQ

Last updated: 23 Sept 2019

Electric Car

EV stands for Electric Vehicle. Any type – so it could mean an electric car, van or truck.

Some websites use this term – it means ‘Battery Electric Vehicle’. Some cars are being developed with a Hydrogen / Fuel Cell so they don’t have a battery. These are in prototype and not available for sale.

This is when the EV uses the motor to slow down the vehicle, instead of the brakes.

This has two benefits:

  • Energy is returned into the battery (instead of being lost as heat through braking friction)
  • Your brake pads and discs last longer through reduced use

Range anxiety is the fear of running out of battery capacity before your trip is completed!

There are ways to reduce this – see our blog post. This will reduce as more charging stations are installed and EV range increases (which it does every year).

Electric cars are really better. They accelerate faster, 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!

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.

EVs typically have between five and eight years warranty on the electric motor and battery.

The length of the general car warranty depends on the manufacturer – ranging from 3 years / 60,000 miles up to 7 years / 100,000 miles.

PHEVs and Hybrids

PHEV stands for Plug-In Electric Hybrid. As well as the battery pack and motor it also has a combustion engine (gas/petrol or diesel). You can plug it in to recharge the battery or run it solely on fossil fuel.

See our blog post comparing EVs and PHEVs for more information.

A hybrid car has a conventional gas/petrol engine but also has a small battery and electric motor. The only way of refuelling is at a gas/petrol station and you can’t plug it in to recharge the battery.

The EV technology is there to improve the MPG of the car and it’s not designed to run on the battery only (except for extremely short journeys – say a couple of miles). Biggest MPG improvement is gained on urban journeys with many stop/starts. 

We don’t feature standard Hybrid vehicles on the EVchoice website.

REx stands for Range Extender. A REx electric car is basically a PHEV, but it works in a different way. The REx EV has a small lightweight engine which kicks in to recharge the battery when it is nearing empty. The car will run purely on the battery until it needs recharging, whereas in a PHEV the combustion engine will kick in & out at varying times (e.g. when more power is needed for an overtake)

Charging and Chargers

Tethered means the charging unit has a cable(s) and connectors attached to it. Rapid chargers are all tethered.

Untethered means the charging unit has a socket (usually Type 2) into which you connect your own charging cable.

See the manufacturer’s spec.

In general a Japanese or Korean make will have both a Chademo rapid and a Type 2 fast connector. Earlier cars will have a Type 1 connector instead of a Type 2.

US and European makes will have a CCS connector.

Tesla and Renault Zoe have their own particular variety of the Type 2 connector which supports both rapid and fast charging. For information about the connector types check out our guide to charging page.

If it is Tesla branded it can only be used by a Tesla. Superchargers only support Tesla.

There are some charging units which are Tesla make but have a Type 2 connection which can be used by any car. These are typically at private locations such as hotels.

There used to be fairly widespread free public charging but this is reducing with increased EV takeup.

Most commonly now this will be at private locations such as car dealerships, hotels and workplaces.

It varies. If you charge at home you will pay your standard home electricity tariff. Some suppliers will do a special EV tariff. In the UK this will be typically £0.13-0.15 per unit (kWh).

At public chargers you can expect to pay around double your home tariff, plus sometimes a per-connection fee or a monthly subscription fee.

Batteries

EV’s have li-ion (lithium ion) batteries which is the most common technology available now (2019). Other technology is being developed (e.g. using sodium).

Unlike the battery in your phone, an EV battery has much more sophisticated charging and control equipment. So the battery will last a lot longer – expect 10 years or more. 

Battery capacity drop-off in electric cars has been much less than predicted. Around 1% per 10,000 miles is typical from owner reports. Tesla offers a battery warranty of 8 years or 120,000 miles for the Model 3. Early model Nissan Leafs have run over 150,000 miles on the original battery. 

Yes the battery can be replaced completely or just individual cell packs. Battery prices have been falling around 11% per year so you can expect the replacement price to be much less than now.

Information coming soon (Aug 2019)

SOC = State of Charge. How much charge is remaining in the battery at a point in time. Usually measured as a %.

SOH = State of Health. How much of the battery’s original capacity does it now have when fully charged (i.e. 92% of original capacity)

Other / Miscellaneous EV Questions

Apart from how to add fuel/energy and the range considerations there is pretty much no difference.

All EVs are auto – there’s no manual / stick-shift gearbox – and you’ll need to learn the different driving modes of your vehicle.

In day-to-day use there’s really no difference. You drive it, load it up and clean/wash it in exactly the same way as any other car.

There are very few EVs rated for towing. (You can technically fit a towbar which you could use to carry cycles for instance, but you can’t legally tow with it). As soon as we’re able we’ll bring you an EV towing test.

PHEVs – You can tow in many of the larger SUV-type vehicles (such as the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Volvo XC90). Frequently the towing performance will be the same or better than the equivalent diesel.

However this will be changing in the near future – a US startup manufacturer called Rivian is introducing 4×4 EVs with huge towing capacity (5000kg).

In a battery EV the only way to add fuel is to charge the battery.

In a PHEV you need to fuel it with (usually) petrol or gas.

Safety

Electric cars have equivalent safety as gasoline / petrol cars. In the USA EVs must undergo the same rigorous safety testing and meet the same safety standards required for conventional vehicles as well as EV-specific standards for limiting chemical spillage from batteries, isolating the chassis from the high-voltage system to prevent electric shock and disconnecting the battery system when airbags deploy.

Most EVs tested by Euro NCAP have a 4 or 5 star rating.

There have been 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 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 have been driven a total of 7.5 billion miles, and about 40 fires have been reported. That works out to five fires for every billion miles traveled, compared to a rate of 55 fires per billion miles traveled in gasoline cars.

 

Manufacturers undertake very stringent safety testing and approvals. The same applies to the charging stations. Common sense should prevail – don’t stick yor finger or anything metal into the charging ports on the car or the charging station.

Charging at home is safe – but ensure you comply with the charge point and the vehicle installation and usage instructions. In the rain more care should be taken to ensure the connector is kept dry (by always putting it back in its holder rather than leaving it on the ground for instance).

Charging from a standard 240v or 110v socket has more risk than charging from a dedicated charging station or charge point. The main risk is overheating of cables and subsequent fire.

Here are some ways to reduce this risk (there may be others…):

  1. DO use a heavy load rated cable.
  2. DO unwind the cable fully and completely from its holder. This is really important as the amperage rating of a cable is reduced when it is wound up (meaning it is more likely to get hot).
  3. DON’T use a simple 4 gang extension socket.
  4. DO charge using a garage or outdoor socket as this is likely to have a higher rating and remain cooler.
  5. DO check the cable frequently to make sure it is not getting hot.