FUNDAMENTALS OF \ EV DRIVERS
Going electric can make sense for head and heart – but how do you get drivers on board?
Plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles accounted for more than one in ten new car registrations during 2020, according to the SMMT, with respective volumes up 91% and 186% compared to 2019. The vehicles are increasingly mainstream, and barriers to adoption are dissolving too – here’s what drivers need to consider.
WHICH VEHICLE TYPES ARE AVAILABLE?
Plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are available in the majority of bodystyles, from city cars to large MPVs and SUVs, often offered alongside other powertrain options. Improvements in battery chemistry are delivering more range from a smaller pack, while BEV-only platforms are enabling manufacturers to package bulky components more efficiently within the vehicle. Some – but not all – plug-in models can also tow a trailer or caravan. For the majority of drivers there’s no need for a lifestyle compromise when going electric.
HOW MUCH DOES A PLUG-IN COST?
According to BloombergNEF, battery pack costs have declined rapidly during the last decade; from an average $1,100 (£786) per kilowatt-hour of capacity in 2010, to $137 (£98) per kilowatt-hour in 2020. Scaling up and localising production in Europe should deliver further cost efficiencies, which means manufacturers can provide longer ranges and bring pricing closer to the equivalent petrol or diesel car. Drivers can also benefit from sizeable company car tax incentives, discussed here.
WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE FOR HOME CHARGING?
One of the advantages of plug-in vehicles is they can top up while they’re parked, so access to charging at home is an important aspect of broadening their use case. The UK government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) provides the following funding:
Drivers who own, lease or are the primary user of an eligible plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle can claim up to 75% (or £350) of the cost of one chargepoint, plus installation, through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.
Installation takes a couple of hours and typically doesn’t require other electrical upgrades, but funding is only available to off-street parking spaces and these cannot be shared with other properties.
Funding is also available for the 40% of UK properties without off-street parking. The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme has provided £20m in funding to local authorities since 2017, supporting the installation of 4,000 charging points. An additional £20m was made available for the 2021/22 tax year, aimed at doubling the size of the network. Funding is capped at £7,500 per unit.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO CHARGE AT HOME?
This depends on the capacity of the vehicle battery (in kilowatt-hours) and your energy tariff, so it makes sense to shop around. The UK average cost per kilowatt-hour of energy was 17.4p in 2020, according to data from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. For a typical compact electric family car with a 50kWh battery, that equates to around £8.70 to fully charge. Charged overnight on an Economy 7 tariff, the equivalent cost would fall to £5. Some tariffs also include discounted access at public chargepoints.
With UK average cost per kilowatt-hour of energy of 17.4p in 2020
The equivalent, charged overnight on an Economy 7 tariff
WHAT ARE THEY LIKE TO LIVE WITH?
Electric motors are near silent and vibration free, providing strong pulling power from standstill and with a comfortable two-pedal driving experience similar to a conventional automatic gearbox. They can help reduce local air and noise pollution, and offer convenience features no petrol or diesel car can match, charging while drivers sleep, then pre-conditioning the cabin and demisting the windows ready for departure.