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How Electric Cars Are Charged And How Far They Go: Your Questions Answered

The announcement that the UK is to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, a full decade earlier than planned, has prompted hundreds of questions from anxious drivers. We’re going to try to answer some of the main ones.

 

Q1 How do you charge an electric car at home?

The obvious answer is that you plug it into the mains but, unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple.

If you have a driveway and can park your car beside your house, then you can just plug it straight into your domestic mains electricity supply.

The problem is this is slow. It will take many hours to fully charge an empty battery, depending of course on how big the battery is. Expect it to take a minimum of eight to 14 hours, but if you’ve got a big car you could be waiting more than 24 hours.

A faster option is to get a home fast-charging point installed. The government will pay up to 75% of the cost of installation (to a maximum of £500), though installation often costs around £1,000.

A fast charger should typically take between four and 12 hours to fully charge a battery, again depending how big it is.


Q2 How much will it cost to charge my car at home?

This is where electric vehicles really show cost advantages over petrol and diesel. It is significantly cheaper to charge an electric car than fill up a fuel tank.

The cost will depend on what car you’ve got. Those with small batteries – and therefore short ranges – will be much cheaper than those with big batteries that can travel for hundreds of kilometers without recharging.

How much it will cost will also depend on what electricity tariff you are on. Most manufacturers recommend you switch to an Economy 7 tariff, which means you pay much less for electricity during the night – when most of us would want to charge our cars.

The consumer organization Which estimates the average driver will use between £450 and £750 a year of additional electricity charging an electric car.

 

Q3 What if you don’t have a drive?

If you can find a parking space on the street outside your home you can run a cable out to it but you should make sure you cover the wires so people don’t trip over them.

Once again, you have the choice of using the mains or installing a home fast-charging point.

 

Q4 How far can an electric car go?

As you might expect, this depends on which car you choose. The rule of thumb is the more you spend, the further you’ll go.

The range you get depends on how you drive your car. If you drive fast, you’ll get far fewer kilometers than listed below. Careful drivers should be able to squeeze even more kilometers out of their vehicles.

These are some approximate ranges for different electric cars:

Renault Zoe - 394km (245 miles)

Hyundai IONIQ - 310km (193 miles)

Nissan Leaf e+ - 384km (239 miles)

Kia e Niro - 453km (281 miles)

BMW i3 120Ah - 293km (182 miles)

Tesla Model 3 SR+ - 409km (254 miles)

Tesla Model 3 LR - 560km (348 miles)

Jaguar I-Pace - 470km (292 miles)

Honda e - 201km (125 miles)

Vauxhall Corsa e- 336km (209 miles)

 

Q5 How long does the battery last?

Once again, this depends on how you look after it.

Most electric car batteries are lithium-based, just like the battery in your mobile phone. Like your phone battery, the one in your car will degrade over time. What that means is it won’t hold the charge for so long and the range will reduce.

If you overcharge the battery or try to charge it at the wrong voltage it will degrade more quickly.

Check out whether the manufacturer offers a warranty on the battery – many do. They typically last eight to 10 years.

It's worth understanding how they work, because you won't be able to buy a new petrol or diesel car after 2030.

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