The beginner’s guide to buying an electric car in 2021


Efficiency? I thought the reach was the big concern

It is true that range is the main concern of many people with an electric car, but also do not forget about efficiency. Considering the first without thinking about the second is like worrying about the size of your car’s gas tank without thinking about its fuel consumption.

The problem is, for a manufacturer, it’s easy to add range to a car by simply equipping it with a bigger battery. But a bigger battery adds weight, and that extra weight can mean that those longer-range electric cars are less efficient and therefore cost you more to run, especially if you’re using public chargers all the time.

How to know the efficiency of an electric car?

Most manufacturers now list efficiency figures in their brochures; if you can’t find the number, ask the dealer instead.

Different manufacturers use different units to measure energy efficiency, but here at The telegraph we have decided that it is easier to use miles per kilowatt hour (mpkWh). This makes it easy to determine how much an electric car trip will cost you: simply divide the distance traveled in miles by the efficiency figure in mpkWh, then multiply by your electricity rate in kWh.

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What is a kilowatt hour?

A kilowatt hour, or kWh, is a unit of energy: 1 kWh is enough to run an electrical device (in this case a car) with a power of 1000 watts, or 1 kilowatt (kW), for one hour.

It may be helpful to think of a kilowatt hour as a bit like a liter of fuel. Your battery (or fuel tank) can only contain a limited number; once exhausted, the car will stop.

If you have a bigger battery (that is, with a higher kWh rating), it will hold more charge – or fuel – and your car will move further.

But also, if your EV is more efficient, it will travel further with less kilowatt hours, so it will cost you less and you won’t need such a big battery.

Is charging an EV as complicated as it sounds?

It’s possible, but it’s getting easier and easier. Nowadays, many public chargers offer instant payment through an app, so you no longer need to have a subscription like you used to, while many are now starting to offer contactless payment by credit card. credit and debit.

The network is still not as reliable as it should be, however, with users complaining of a high rate of inoperative chargers, but again this is improving and reliability is also expected to improve. ‘improve as new chargers are deployed across the country.

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It used to be that you also had to worry about what type of charging socket your car used – there were several at one point – but now most manufacturers have standardized around a particular type, called a Type 2 / Charger. CCS. Almost all charging points will now be compatible with this type of charger.

How easy is it to install a charger at home?

Very. This will set you back around £ 800 (although there is another government grant available here which gives you a cut on the cost, bringing that price down to around £ 300). Most chargers will come with equipment included in the price, and an engineer will install it for you.

You said it takes a long time to charge an electric car, but how long?

You won’t get in and out as quickly as if you were stopping to refuel, that’s for sure. But you won’t ‘refuel’ the same way either. Think of an electric car as being a lot like your smartphone – it’s best to plug it in to charge it overnight so that when you want to use it in the morning, the battery is full.

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If your car needs more juice during the day, a quick swipe on a quick charger should be enough to get you to your destination. Some of the fastest chargers currently installed can charge at tremendous speeds, adding around 100 miles to your EV’s range in just 10 minutes.

Sounds awesome – can any electric car use these faster chargers?

No. An electric car is only able to receive a charge at a certain rate and this is limited by its on-board charging equipment. Today the UK’s fastest public chargers are capable of charging to 150 kW.

Charging speeds are measured in kilowatts (kW). Think of them as the number of kilowatt hours you can add to your car’s battery in an hour. So, during this time, a 50kW fast charger will add 50kWh to the battery.

But if your EV is only able to receive a charge at 50kW, this is the speed at which it will charge the fastest, even if you are connected to a 150kW charger. So if you want to charge your car in record time, you need one that is capable of being charged quickly.



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