It is inevitable that sooner or later we will all be driving electric vehicles (EVs). At Auva, we recently took delivery of our first fully electric vehicle and thought we would share with you our experience and opinion on the value and convenience of using one. There is a lot of scepticism about electric vehicles, mainly about their range and the time it takes to charge. When we first started to talk about ordering our first EV, there were some wary comments, but we found it odd that no one we spoke with had actually experienced one or even knew anyone who has one. So, we decided we needed to research this carefully for ourselves.
Value and convenience
The first major factor to consider is the cost, no doubt electric vehicles are considerably more expensive to purchase or lease than traditional combustion engine cars and the choice is currently limited. There are some incentives available for electric vehicles such as Government grants (depending on which country you are in) and in the UK very low benefit in kind costs (currently zero, increasing to 1% and then 2% year on year). For this we would suggest you talk to your accountant.
The distance range of vehicles on a single charge varies. Most vehicle manufacturers offer a standard range and an extended range battery option. We opted for an extended range which is said to have a range of 375 – 397km (233 – 246 miles), this range in colder weather is closer to 300km (200 miles). The most common thing we are asked is how long does the battery take to charge, that is not a straightforward question! The battery in the vehicle we have is 95kWh, to charge this from 0% to 100% plugged in with a standard three pin plug at your home or office will take almost 48 hours. This is because the car is only getting 2kW of charge per hour.
We have had chargers installed that increase this to 7kW per hour, so the charging time decreased to under 14 hours. 7kW per hour makes the charging more practicable, if you leave the car plugged in overnight at home (if you have a charger there) or if you leave it charging whilst at the office for 8 hours, you are getting a reasonable charge. The other option is you visit public charging points – the cost of electricity is higher but the kW per hour rate can be hugely increased. There are a large number of charge points offering 50kW per hour, so the charge time is less than two hours. The vehicle we have purchased can take a maximum of 150 kW per hour, so this charge time is a little over 40 minutes, however these chargers are currently few and far between. The cost we pay for electricity at our office is 14p a kW, so for a little over £13 we can charge the vehicle with a 200-mile range. Using public chargers can increase this cost to almost £40.
There is also scepticism about the end-of-life batteries, and not being able to recycle them. This in fact is incorrect. They can be recycled, however the cost currently does not make it particularly economical to do this although there are lots of options becoming available for reuse for retired batteries. Even with these concerns, we must consider that EVs do not require oil and oil filters like combustion engines do.
When considering the time it can take to charge the electric vehicle, we were initially worried that it wouldn’t be suitable for a high mileage user. Obviously due to lockdown, driving has reduced hugely but there have been some essential journeys to site and also commutes to and from the office. The key thing is to plan ahead. Do this for each journey you take, whether that is tomorrow or in the weeks to come. Ideally you want to keep the number of charges as low as possible to make it as convenient as possible and also to help long term preservation of the battery. The weekly charge our vehicle is averaging is easier than visiting a petrol station, especially in cold weather. If we had to make an urgent journey and the vehicle was say only 25% charged, it’s reassuring to know that within 2 miles of the office there is a 50kW public charger that would fully charge the vehicle in a little over an hour if it was already 30% charged. This charger has never been in use when we have needed it or faulty. Also, there are many apps available (as well as the sat nav in the vehicle) that tells you where chargers are, the speed of the charger, cost and the status.
So, when asked, do we think it is worth the additional expense? Without a doubt we do! It not only massively reduces our carbon footprint, it stops dangerous particulates being released into the air, it’s cheaper to run than most petrol or diesel cars and it is probably cheaper to maintain. We hope to be adding two more EV’s in the coming months.