Which EV is right for me?

Switching to an EV doesn’t have to be confusing.

If you’re interested in the benefits of switching to an electric vehicle (EV) but you’re confused by the options available, we’re here to help. Let’s dive in and demystify the world of EV s for you, starting with the fully-electric car.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)

BEVs (more commonly known as fully-electric cars) use a large battery for power. From speed and steering to the temperature inside the cabin, everything’s battery powered.

They’re quiet, emission free to drive, and much cheaper to run (most are under £10 to fully charge from empty). And they have a typical range of around 200 miles, which is more than enough for the average journey.

By now, most of the big car makers have made moves in the EV market to meet ambitious government plans and customer demand. And they come in all shapes and sizes; from luxury Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to smaller run-arounds for town and city, such as the Vauxhall Corsa-e, Toyota Proace City and the Honda e.

BEVs use a large battery for power.

Charging options

How and where you charge is up to you. A home charge point is a popular choice for EVs. It offers easy, convenient charging and government grants can help reduce the cost. Until then, your EV will have its own cable that connects to your standard 3-pin plug at home.  

For recharges during a longer journey, there are almost 40,000 EV charge stations in the UK. Simply sign up to that provider and pay per charge (the type of charger and what EV you own will affect charge times).

Find out more on government grants

Other BEV benefits

As well as being much better for the planet and massively reducing air pollution, the day to day running costs offer serious long-term savings for drivers.

With the typical charge costing under £5 (you’ll rarely – if ever – charge an empty battery), over the long term you’ll save significantly compared to petrol or diesel. Just bear in mind that EVs can be more expensive to buy new on the forecourt compared to their fuel-burning counterparts.

The cost of servicing is another advantage of the EV when compared to petrol or diesel. With less moving parts and no combustion creating a build-up of residues, servicing is often cheaper.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)

Plug-in hybrids are powered by a combination of petrol engine paired with an electric battery, which you plug in to charge. The battery is much smaller than the one used by a fully electric though, so the car prioritises electric then automatically switches over to petrol once the battery runs out. Ford (Kuga) and Toyota (Prius) are a just a few of the manufacturers offering PHEV versions of their more-familiar models.

Plug-in hybrids are powered by a combination of petrol engine paired with an electric battery.

Get the most from your PHEV

The PHEV’s ideal for a typical daily journey within a 30-mile radius, using the engine as a backup for those occasional longer trips. And by charging overnight when electricity’s cheaper (see our dedicated EV tariff for more), you’ll have more than enough battery power for the week – and with minimal impact on your electricity bill.

How cost-effective are PHEVs?

PHEVs typically have an electric-only range of around between 20 and 50 miles, so to fully recharge the battery will probably cost less than £5 each plug in.

It’s not so great for regular longer journeys, though, because once the electricity runs out, you’re effectively carrying the weight of the battery on fossil-fuel power. That’s less cost-effective for you and less good for the environment.

And unlike the fully-electric car, the PHEV has all the parts of an electric and combustion engine, which can make for a more expensive service should something go wrong. It’s worth bearing in mind when you’re making your list of pros and cons for each version.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)

HEVs are fuelled by a petrol engine assisted by an electric battery. It optimises fuel economy by storing and transferring the energy you create when driving. But unlike the PHEV, you don’t need to plug it in to charge the battery.

HEVs are fuelled by a petrol engine assisted by an electric battery.

HEV pros and cons?

Hybrids also have a battery-only range of 20-50 miles, with the added advantage of not needing to plug in to recharge. They’re far more fuel-efficient than standard petrol/diesel cars, but how efficient depends on the engine in your chosen model.

And like the PHEV, the combination of engine and battery-related components can make breakdowns potentially costly. The HEV is also not a great choice for regular motorway users. With higher speeds and without regular braking to replenish the battery, you’ll be relying more on engine power to get from A to B. 

Electric vehicle conversions

It’s not an easy job and requires a specialist, but it’s entirely possible to convert most petrol or diesel vehicles to electric – often for much less than the cost of purchasing a new electric vehicle. It’s also an attractive option for bus operators and large fleets looking to reduce fuel and servicing costs.

Choosing your EV

So there you have it – a quick breakdown of the differences between EVs. Why not arrange a test drive in the different models to see which you prefer? One thing’s for certain – the EV evolution is with us, and with various grants and subsidies available, it’s a great time to get on board.

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