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Electric Vehicles – What’s it all about?

Tue 07 Apr 2020

electric car
The cost of owning and running a car can be one of the most expensive things you’ll pay for after housing costs. It’s never been an easy choice, deciding on the right vehicle for your circumstances - should I choose a diesel or petrol, SUV or estate, performance over economy? Well this decision has got a bit more complex – will my next vehicle be an Electric Vehicle (EV)?

Since the UK Government introduced the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) in 2011, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), annual registrations of EVs have grown year on year, with sales of nearly 230,000 pure electric and hybrid vehicles in 2019. It’s worth remembering that not all EVs are eligible for the grant, so bear this in mind in your decision making.

What is an Electric Vehicle (EV)?

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology describe them as:

Electric Vehicles use electric motors to drive their wheels. They derive some or all of their power from large, rechargeable batteries. The distance an EV can drive between recharges is known as its range.

  • All-electric EVs - where the battery is the only power source. Most current (non-luxury) models have a quoted range of 80-120 miles. In practice, range varies according to driving style, terrain and the use of auxiliary equipment such as heating/air conditioning.
  • Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) - can switch between running on electricity, petrol or diesel. They typically have a smaller battery, and therefore a lower battery powered range of between 10-40 miles. However their maximum range is equivalent to a petrol or diesel car. Both Plug-in Hybrid and all-electric EVs are recharged by plugging them in to the electricity grid.
  • Hybrids (HEVs) - which do not plug in, such as the Toyota Prius, have a much smaller battery which is recharged while driving. HEVs can drive in electric mode for a few miles and then revert to using petrol or diesel.
  • Fuel Cell Vehicles - generate their own electricity on-board from a fuel such as hydrogen, and do not need to plug in to the electricity grid to recharge. Re-fuelling is similar to a petrol or diesel car.

Which type of EV is best for me?

This is a personal choice and will be dependent on a number of factors including, affordability, the type and distance of journeys you make and charging infrastructure where you live.

How much do EVs cost?

Currently EVs cost more to buy than a comparable petrol or diesel vehicle. While they have less mechanical parts than a conventional vehicle, battery prices are a substantial cost. Many modern EVs use lithium-ion batteries and it takes a lot of time and effort to turn raw lithium into something that can be used. Some manufacturers offer incentives and lease plans for the battery, so include this is your car purchase research.

As EVs become more popular and manufacturers produce more vehicles and models, plus technology improvements, prices are anticipated to reduce.

Vehicle range

While vehicle range isn’t an issue with hybrids, as they will run on petrol and diesel, in addition to electric, according to  most modern electric cars can go for well over 100 miles between charges, with many of the latest cars having a range of around 250 miles. Of course, some of this will be reflective of the driving conditions, roads and the way you drive, plus use of aircon and technology within the vehicle.

Charging points

The term “range anxiety” describes a very real fear of running out of battery and knowing where to charge it up.

While you can have a charger fitted at home, clearly there will be times when you need to recharge when out and about.

The good news is that, the number of charging points is increasing. According to zap map the number of charging points for fast, rapid and ultra-rapid grows by the day and as of the 11th March 2020, there were 31,112 public charging points across 11,124 locations. You can view local ones to you or your journey at zap map live – you might not have even known they were there!

What about insuring your EVs

Do I need specialist insurance?

The simple answer is no. Whilst you can buy specialist insurance for your EV, most major insurers now cover electric cars.

Does it cost more to insure an EV?

Yes, EVs are currently – in general - more expensive to insure than their directly comparable petrol or diesel counterparts. One of reasons is the current cost of repairs and the availability of garages with qualified mechanics. While electric cars have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel vehicles, some components like the lithium-ion batteries are very expensive to repair if damaged.

As EVs become more commonplace this may change, but it’s worthwhile noting that the cost of insurance is based on a number of other factors – you can read our article on what affects your car insurance price here.

Police Mutual Car Insurance offers policies for a range of EVs. You don’t need to buy a special EV policy and you can get a quote in the usual way.

You can either call us on 0151 242 7640 or go visit our Car Insurance page.

Police Mutual Car Insurance is provided by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

PMGI Limited, trading as Police Mutual, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England & Wales No. 1073408. Registered office: Alexandra House, Queen Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6QS.

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Type of article: Articles
Category: Wellbeing

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