While switching to an electric car may feel like a far-off prospect, we’re approaching the point at which electric vehicles (EVs) are going to become part of everyday life. With an expanding number of EVs coming to market, a ban coming into place on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, and ever-growing infrastructure in the form of EV charging stations across the UK, it’s high time you start thinking about making the switch.
Why Are We Making the Move to Electric?
The true impact of our love affair with fossil fuel vehicles is immense; the figures really do speak for themselves. Internal combustion engines (like the one in your car) emit an estimated 5 billion tons of CO2 – in other words, 10% of the whole of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It is true that certain types of transport like airplanes, boats and heavy goods vehicles present a bigger challenge in terms of moving to electricity as a fuel source, but this excuse does not hold true for our cars. Viable EV technology has been around since 1890, believe it or not, and since then the technology has only improved. With such untapped potential to transform the impact we are having on the environment, removal of fossil fuel engines in favour of electric alternatives is an arguably overdue transition.
The energy efficiency of EVs far outweigh traditional vehicles; 77% of the energy they take during charging goes toward powering the vehicle, whereas this is just 12-30% for petrol-powered vehicles. So you could be powering your EV from an electricity source as dirty as you like (coal, we are looking at you) and the lifetime emissions would still be considerably less than your petrol-powered pal. A moot point, anyway, as more and more of our electricity is coming from renewable sources.
Not only does this benefit the planet, it’ll be a blessing to your wallet too in terms of the annual cost of running your car. And that’s before you consider the financial incentives for EVs too.
Does Driving an Electric Car Feel Any Different?
The first thing you’ll notice is that you’re driving a car without gear changes. The simple reason for this is the electric motor’s extraordinary ability to achieve very high RPM, so having a single gear becomes the most practical engineering solution.
As most of the torque is still at the lower end (aka the engine’s rotational power; typically, a lower torque makes for a more responsive vehicle), you will also notice that acceleration is impressive in almost every class of vehicle.
Finally braking is noticeably different. Without a clutch, easing up on the accelerator results in your car slowing down correspondingly, due to the engine-breaking effect. Indeed, you will probably find yourself using the brakes much less often, which again is good for the environment.
All this does feel different to start with, but you will soon become accustomed to it. In recent studies run by motoring organisations, an incredibly high percentage of owners say they would find it difficult to go back to a non-electric car.
What About Charging?
Being conscious of your car’s charge level may feel like a bug bear to begin with, but before long it’ll be no different to watching your mobile battery. Infrastructure for EV charging is ever growing, and although it cannot be denied that it does not yet parallel that of petrol points, the upcoming 2030 ban on new petrol vehicles means that it will do nothing but improve. Also worth noting is the impressive ranges (how far the car can go after charging) of the EVs already on the market; typically ~150 miles and as high as 400+ miles at the top of the market; we would seriously recommend upping sticks if your commute really exceeds that!
But look at it another way. How many of us can fuel petrol or diesel cars at home? Home EV chargers will become commonplace soon, so we highly recommend getting one installed. Not only massively more convenient, with change on the horizon it could also increase the value of your home. You can read more about whether you are eligible for a grant to get an EV charger here and be sure to head over to our recommendations to find our favourite products on the market.
If you’re still feeling a little uncertain, there are also several iPhone and Android apps that can help you get to know the charge-point infrastructure available in your area; Zap-Map and Electric Highway to name just a couple, not to mention many EVs come with this technology built in for a helping hand.
Moving to an EV can seem like a big decision, but for all the reasons above alongside a rapidly expanding first and second-hand EV market, now is a great time to invest.
If you want to try before you buy, look for a car sharing scheme to give one a go, and perhaps you also find an EV that will fit happily into your lifestyle.