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Electric Car Guide: EVs Explained

“They’ll never catch on”

“They’re just a fad”

“They’re too much hassle”

All of the above has been said about electric vehicles. And yes, when EVs first made their way onto UK roads, it was only natural for drivers to have their reservations about whether they would live up to the hype around them.

Fast forward to 2023 and we now know the hype is real. The popularity of electric cars continues to grow year-on-year; as of June 2023, there were 810,000 fully electric cars on UK roads and a further 510,000 plug-in hybrids.

If you’re still unsure about electric cars or simply need to know more about them before you make the switch, we’ve got you covered. In our electric car guide, we explain everything you need to know, from what they are to their benefits and the available types.

What is an electric car?

An electric car doesn’t rely on petrol or diesel as traditional cars do. Rather, electric cars have an electric motor to power the car and in the case of fully electric cars, are charged up using electricity from the grid.

How do electric cars work?

Electric cars are fully automatic, as they don’t have any gears. When the accelerator is pressed, power is sent from the battery to the electric motor which turns the drive shafts to start rotating the wheels.

When you brake, the electric motor acts as an alternator to send power back to the battery. This is designed to prevent power loss and maximise the miles you can get from your vehicle.

Benefits of electric cars

For so many drivers to make the switch to an electric car, you know they’ve got to have a tonne of benefits! Here are the main electric car benefits:

1. Fully electric cars emit zero carbon emission

Traditional petrol and diesel cars are known polluters. On the other hand, fully electric cars emit zero emissions or exhaust fumes as you drive. They don’t rely on fossil fuels and are more efficient with their power so less is wasted than traditionally fuelled vehicles.

As electricity can be generated from renewable energy sources, EVs are a greener, environmentally friendly choice.

2. EVs are cheper to run

The cost of charging an electric car is significantly less than the cost of a tank of petrol or diesel. According to PodPoint, charging a typical electric car with a 60kWh battery and ~200 mile range will cost around £17 for a full charge. Compare this to the price per litre of fuel and you can make a huge saving over time by switching to electric.

3. Electric cars are cheaper to maintain

Although the tech used in an electric car is some of the most advanced on the market, EVs are actually cheaper to maintain over the lifespan of the vehicle.

The electric motor has fewer moving parts than a traditional combustion engine, so is less susceptible to wear and tear. In fact, in general, there are fewer parts to an electric car, which means fewer problems can arise!

4. EVs are quieter than traditional cars

The noise and rev associated with a traditional petrol or diesel car is due to the combustion and air intake process that happens within the engine. Combustion isn’t required in an electric car which results in EVs being significantly quieter by comparison – they’re almost silent!

In fact, because they’re so quiet, manufacturers have designed the cars to emit noise when travelling at slow speeds to warn pedestrians of the oncoming vehicle.

5. You can charge EVs at home

There’s no need to set off early to visit the petrol station before your morning commute. You can charge your electric vehicle overnight at home, so it’s fully charged and ready to go the next day. It’s more efficient to do so using a home charging point but you can also do it using a standard 3-point plug.

Find out more about charging an EV in our guide.

6. Electric cars are futureproof

As the growth of EVs has shown over the past few years, electric cars are most definitely the way forward. The UK’s electric car infrastructure is developing rapidly, making public chargers more widely available to increase charging convenience for drivers.

7. Equal or better performance

Some people still believe that electric cars can’t match the performance of petrol or diesel cars. However, in many models across manufacturers, the electric version often outperforms the traditionally fuelled counterpart.

Because electric cars are manual, no acceleration is lost through gear changes. Fewer moving parts within the car mean power can transfer quickly and easily to the wheels.

8. You may be able to park or charge your EV for free

There are more and more designated EV parking spaces in the UK, some of which are free to park in and provide a charging point so you can charge your car while it’s parked up. Taking advantage of these spaces can help you reduce the cost of running your electric vehicle.

Drawbacks of electric cars

As with everything, electric cars aren’t perfect. Here are some of the potential drawbacks that come with EVs and how they can be mitigated:

1. Limited battery range

When EVs first entered the market, the miles you could drive on a single charge was low. This is less of a concern these days as technology has advanced rapidly.

Take the Nissan Leaf for example; the first Leaf car had a range of 109 miles. Nowadays, modern leaf editions are capable of achieving around 226 miles on a single charge.

2. Concerns about battery lifespan

Some people are concerned about how long the battery in an electric car can last. On average, a modern EV battery can last around 10 years, while some last up to 20 years!

Of course, with a short-term monthly car subscription, you needn’t worry about the longevity of your EV’s battery.

3. Long charging times

Admittedly, charging an EV takes more time than filling up at a petrol station does. However, it’s also a lot more convenient; you can charge your car during the dead time in your day, such as during the night when you’re sleeping or when you’re parked up and away from your car.

Of course, not letting your car’s battery drain fully will quicken the time taken to recharge. Top-up charges take significantly less time than charging from 0-100%.

4. Charging infrastructure

When electric cars were first introduced, available charging points were few and far between. The UK’s charging infrastructure has developed rapidly so this is less of a concern for motorists today, although the availability of chargers does vary throughout the country.

Electric range explained

Whereas you have MPG in petrol and diesel cars, the range is the equivalent in electric vehicles. A car’s electric range is how many miles you’ll get from a single, full charge. In theory, the larger a car’s electric range, the further you can drive and the less often you’ll need to drive it.

‘Range anxiety’ is a term associated with electric cars and describes the fear of running out of charge before you reach your destination. As vehicle range has developed, range anxiety is less common today as EVs are more capable.

Just like with traditional cars, there are some factors that can affect an electric car’s range, reducing the number of miles you can get from a charge. These include:

  • Your driving style, including rapid, frequent acceleration
  • The weather, such as wind and cold weather can affect battery performance
  • Using your car’s air conditioning or heating
  • How full your car is; heavier loads make the electric motor work harder.

Types of electric car

So far, we have mainly discussed fully electric cars. However, there are different types of electric cars.

1. Battery eletric vehicle (BEV)

Also known as fully electric vehicles, this type of EV has an electric motor powered by batteries which are charged at home or at a public charging point. They emit zero emissions.

2. Plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV)

The best of both worlds, PHEV has a small battery that can power an electric motor alongside a traditional petrol or diesel engine. The battery delivers a much smaller electric-only range than a BEV (usually around 40 miles). PHEVs emit higher emissions than BEVs but are slightly reduced against full petrol or diesel vehicles.

3. Hybrid vehicles (HEV)

Known as hybrids, full hybrids or self-charging hybrids, this type of car cannot be charged via the mains. Instead, the car is powered by a combustion engine and the battery is charged through regenerative braking as you drive.

The electric-only range of a HEV is significantly less than both BEV and PHEVs; in most instances, the battery is used as a power boost for the main engine to improve efficiency.

4. Mild Hybrid Vehicles (MHEV)

Mild hybrids can’t be driven in electric-only mode. However, they do have a small battery pack to give a boost in acceleration and improve the efficiency of a combustion engine. Fuel efficiency is often improved with a mild hybrid vs. a traditionally fuelled vehicle.

Popular electric cars

At EZOO, we have a huge range of electric cars to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a compact city car or a larger family car, we have some of the UK’s best-loved EVs available for you to choose from as part of your car subscription.

The best-selling EVs of 2022 were:

The good news is you can find many of these vehicles, as well as many more to choose from, right here at EZOO. Start your car subscription with us today. Want to find out more before you commit? Check our guide to car subscriptions first; it covers all the essential information.