Tech corner

A lightning-fast guide to electric cars

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The popularity of the electric car has significantly increased in recent years. We’ve put together a mini guide on what to consider when investing.

This year has seen a huge boost in the sale of electric cars. Thanks to the shift in public attitude to the technology, alongside the improved recharging network across the UK and the government's Plug-in Car Grant guaranteed until 2020, an electric vehicle is now a feasible option for modern motorists.

These clever battery-powered designs have several core advantages, such as reducing your carbon footprint and lowering household expenses.

However, there are still some questions flying around amongst potential buyers, such as “How do they work?”, “Where can we charge them?” and “Will owning one actually save me money?”

We've gathered up some of the key information you need to know if you're thinking about purchasing an electric car. 

How do you charge it?

Electric-powered motors are most suited to those who have access to charging facilities at home or work. For example, it’s best if you have access to off-street parking, such as a garage or driveway, so that you can safely recharge your electric vehicle (EV) overnight.

Meanwhile, the public charging network, which is rapidly growing, offers a range of charging options if you’re travelling further afield.

There are three main EV charging speeds that are all defined in kW. Slow charging provides you with up to 3kW, which is best suited when you have six to eight hours to spare, for example overnight. Then there’s the fast option, which gives you the ability to charge some models in three to four hours. Impressively, the top level, rapid charging, enables you to charge your motor up to 80% in around 30 minutes.

To get a better idea of where you can fill her up with electricity, ZapMap is one of the top places to find your nearest EV charging spot.

Are electric cars cheaper than their petrol-powered equivalents?

Currently, electric cars are more expensive to purchase than your usual gas-reliant vehicle. Luckily, the Plug-in Car and Plug-in Van Grants offer some subsidies to those eligible, which has allowed many people to invest in an EV. 

In general, their running costs are typically lower than those that use diesel or petrol.

Currently, electric cars and vans are the only vehicles that are exempt from car tax (Vehicle Excise Duty). Meanwhile, fuel costs are very low, whilst their efficiency remains high. It has been estimated that for an annual mileage of 10,000 miles per year, you could save £800 by switching to electric.

Leasing an electric car is a viable option for many. This cuts out the uncertainty about the resale value of the vehicle and also reduces the initial outlay compared to buying one straight off the market.

What about hybrids?

If you’re still not fully convinced that an electric vehicle will suit your lifestyle, you should at least look at hybrid options. Combining electric and gas-driven engines, these motors offer you the best of both worlds in terms of convenience, efficiency, lower CO2 emissions and reduced running costs.

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