Looking to buy or lease your first electric vehicle (EV)? It may seem like a big step into the unknown, and if you’ve only driven around burning fossil fuels it’s going to be a new experience. But it shouldn’t be daunting.
In fact, living with an EV can be as easy – or even easier - than living with a petrol or diesel car. You’ll be driving on the same roads, with the same rules, in a car that’s even easier and smoother to drive. You can sample that for yourself by booking a test drive with GRIDSERVE.
We examine the changes and benefits driving an electric car can bring to your life, and those around you.
Changing from fuel filling to battery charging
It won’t surprise you that ‘refuelling’ an EV is a whole different ball game to filling a big tank full of smelly, flammable liquid at a pump and trying to resist buying snacks at the till. The electric car recharging process is much more civilised – particularly if you can charge at home.
Having off-street parking or an allocated space in a private car park makes the EV experience a game changer. Fitting a home charger means you can rock up at home after work, plug the car in and know that by the time you’re ready for the commute or the school run the next morning, the battery will have topped up overnight. You’ll never have to go out just to get fuel again.
Recharging this way is substantially cheaper, too. Even with the rise in energy prices charging at home is still better value than refuelling. Better still, having a tariff with cheaper overnight rates can net you even bigger savings.
For example, with an off-peak tariff of 12p per kWh you could completely fill the battery of a Tesla Model 3 for about £8.50, giving range of up to 300 miles. Compare that to nearly £75 to fill the tank of a new petrol Ford Focus (with current fuel prices) and you’ll be quids in from the off.
If you need to travel further than the range of your EV – a seriously long journey in some of the latest models – you’ll be making use of the public charging network. Usually located at motorway service stations, shopping centres and car parks, they’re more expensive than home charging – but much faster if you go for ultra-rapid chargers like those on the GRIDSERVE Electric Highway.
You might only need to spend 15-30 minutes there for an ample charge, and it’s done while you’re parked and already taking a comfort break on your journey.
Simply put, charging is cheaper, easier and a lot more pleasant than inhaling petrol and diesel fumes at a forecourt.
Electric cars are quieter
Modern petrol and diesel engines are quieter than ever, with huge strides in engineering reducing unwanted noise and vibrations. Even diesels – which used to make a right old racket – are reasonably quiet these days.
But an electric car is in a different league when it comes to the absence of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) – you’ll soon get used to the peace and quiet.
It’s not just about what you hear, it’s also about what you feel. With no gear changes to think about and feel it’s incredibly smooth, making cruising around town a pleasure rather than a chore. Plus, instant acceleration from the get-go means they’re a lot of fun.
Many EV drivers report feeling calmer in their electric cars as a result. Driving can be stressful, so anything that takes the edge off should be celebrated. Improving your mental health and as well as the lung health of others – it’s a win-win.
There's more space in an electric car
Internal combustion engine (ICE) cars don’t merely use an engine and a fuel tank to propel you along: there’s all manner of bulky, complex mechanical bits such as an exhaust system, the clutch and gearbox assembly and belt driven auxiliary systems.
By removing all this and replacing it with an electric motor (or two), a battery pack and electronic bits, such as an inverter, you’re not only making the drive system much simpler, you’re also freeing up a lot of space in the car itself.
Some electric cars make more use of this space than others. For example, models designed to be EVs from the start (rather than being adapted from an existing ICE model) give a lot more freedom to car designers to dispense with the traditional ‘three-box’ (engine bay, cabin, boot) shape of a typical car.
With the battery pack spread out across the EV’s floor, and motors mounted on the wheel axles, the cabin can be airier and more spacious for passengers. What’s more, many electric cars have boots at the front AND the rear. This allows extra luggage space and a small separate area that’s great for muddy boots or securing items away from prying eyes.
Electric cars have fewer things to go wrong
Your typical modern petrol or diesel engine has over 2,000 separate components – and that’s just in the engine itself. By contrast the electric motor in an EV has fewer than 20 parts needed to make it run.
With far less mechanical complexity, there’s less chance of something going wrong. Electric motors are effectively maintenance-free, and the absence of items such as clutches, gearboxes, belts and pullies dramatically reduces the risk of a breakdown.
Of course, electric cars still have bodywork, suspension systems and brakes that need maintenance. But on the latter point, an EV makes use of its friction brakes much less than an ICE car thanks to regenerative braking (more on that in a sec). According to the RAC, you might go up to 100,000 miles before they need attention.
You also have to get an electric car serviced, just like you do in an ICE car. However, because there’s no engine oil changes to worry about the service intervals are longer, and the service itself is usually cheaper.
Electric cars are safer
Cars are safer than ever. Thanks to independent crash tests and ratings by EuroNCAP, it’s incredible how capable a new car is at protecting its occupants from harm in a collision compared to just 20 years ago.
The same tests apply to EVs. In fact, the vast majority of electric cars tested by Euro NCAP have achieved the maximum five-star safety rating. Partly this is thanks to most of them being more highly specified as standard than petrol or diesel equivalents, with extra active safety systems to help mitigate the effects of a crash or avoid one altogether.
But what about the risk of battery fires and high voltage cables? Don’t listen to the fearmongers on this one: A study by CE Safety noted there were 323 reported electric car fires in the UK between 2017 and 2022, out of around 100,000 overall car fires per year. Many experts agree EVs are less likely to catch fire, particularly in a crash where flammable liquids are spilled from petrol or diesel cars.
Electric car safety is improving all the time, too. An EV’s battery is extremely well protected by a crash resistant structure and is mounted low in the car’s body away from key impact areas. Battery cells are engineered to reduce the risk of overheating, while some EVs have special systems that sever high voltage cables in the event of a crash to avoid any issues. Evolving technology will continue to improve safety.
And speaking of tech…
Electric cars have more tech
In our fast-moving, always-connected society, technology has become central to how many of us live. Car companies have had to adapt to keep up: you might upgrade to a new smartphone every year or two, but a new generation of a car model can take six or seven years.
Carmakers have put technology at the heart of the latest electric cars. As well as the clever electronic safety systems we mentioned, there’s now features such as over-the-air updates that can improve the in-car touchscreen systems over time, and even increase the performance and range of your car in the case of Tesla.
Regenerative braking is another bit of clever tech fitted to all electric cars. By harvesting energy when you coast and brake and transferring it to the battery pack, you’re actually adding to the car’s range every time you slow to a stop. This is really satisfying.
More space in the cabin also allows for new dashboard designs with larger-than-ever screens. Cars like the Honda e and Mercedes EQS can have screens covering the entire width of the dashboard, and several EVs also have screens relaying live video images from cameras that replace wing mirrors. This is the shape of the future.
And while self-driving vehicles are still some way off, they will be EVs. The additional space that is now available to car designers and engineers means that there’s more room for processors and the additional electronics that will be required for autonomous cars. The electric motors in EVs are also easier to control more smoothly than an engine.
Electric cars are planet friendly
Running an electric car doesn’t absolve you of recycling, or avoiding single-use plastic, or the myriad other ways we all need to change to limit humanity’s damage to the planet.
But a big part of your carbon footprint is rubbed away. Although EVs use more carbon in their production process (a process which is rapidly becoming more eco-friendly over time) you start paying that back as soon as you drive.
Countless studies show that EVs are much better for the environment over the life cycle of the car because they don’t emit any CO2 during use. What’s more, there’s no nasty pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and particulates, improving the local air quality for those around you.