EVs at HockertonMotivated by planning restrictions on our use of fossil-fuelled cars, between us we’ve now got experience of owning or leasing 3 EVs, a Nissan Leaf, a Volkswagen e-up!, and a Renault Zoe, and one PHEV [1], a Mitsubishi Outlander. We’re often asked about the running costs, but it’s not all about the money.  If you’re thinking of getting one, here’s who we think they work for, and who they don’t…

Yes – if you want lower running costs.

Our Leaf and e-up! get around 4 miles per kwH, which at our off-peak tariff costs 2p per mile. This compares with 8p for a comparable petrol-fuelled up!

All-electric cars [2] have zero Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), even after upcoming changes, saving £140 each year from the second year of ownership. Hybrids and PHEVs don’t get such a good deal under this Government’s restructuring of VED.

If it is a company car both company and employee pay less the more efficient the car, with employees currently paying 5% benefit-in-kind rates, compared with a maximum of 37% for the least efficent cars.

Of course there are still costs, which will now fall on your electricity bill. Annoyingly there is no smart tech built into our chargers, or the car, to easily track usage and costs, but hopefully that will come.

Yes – if you care for the global environment

We have long been aware of the environmental impact of batteries – our homes are grid-connected for this very reason. Battery technology is now evolving in a way that addresses some of this impact, but this is not just a question of a battery, or even low carbon transport.

EVs are central to the planned decarbonisation of the grid, provided the right tariffs and signals come forward to enable them to soak up otherwise unwanted renewable and low carbon energy, and supply to homes during peak demand hours.

Yes – if you care for the local environment

I’ll assume that if you read this blog you would charge from renewable power so are not simply adding to pollution levels elsewhere! The Government claims that the adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles could prevent 29,000 premature deaths each year from air pollution.

Yesif you are happy to plan ahead.

Don’t base your choice of vehicle on the claimed range. Cold weather has a big impact on battery efficiency.

Consider what charger type the car uses. The language used around these is unclear, as is a future standard, so our recommendation is to be flexible. When you get a charging point, don’t get a built-in cable

Work out where you are going to charge, which for us is normally at home. It may take time to arrange a home charging point, so do consider whether you have an interim solution, which could be as simple as a standard outdoor socket.

Yes – if you don’t like planning ahead.

For all the talk about range anxiety, the standout benefit of EVs is no longer having to build petrol station visits in to your travels. For most of us, charging just means plugging in when we get home.

Yes – if you don’t like noise pollution.

Some critics cite the danger of quiet cars. Yes, you’ll find yourself giving pedestrians and cyclists an (even) wider berth, but do so in the knowledge you are cutting noise, as well as air, pollution.

Yesif you have solar PV or other renewables.

At HHP, we estimate we’re losing £500 a year exporting power we can’t use onsite. The more we can store power in EVs or our immersion heaters, the less we need to draw from the grid, and the greater our autonomy.

Yes – if you want the best parking space

OK, this is only going to be the case whilst EV user numbers are low, but the free charging at service stations, the local Park&Ride, and Ikea(!) also means accessible spaces even on the busiest days.

Maybe – if you regularly travel long distances

Whether this is a problem depends whether your wallet is in Tesla territory, but even if you are not, there are options. Either take up the PHEV option or consider whether you are happy to stop for a coffee break. Both work for us, but there have been teething problems with some of the charging points on motorways.

Also, be warned that the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has allowed a patchwork of propietary charge cards to develop, meaning you have not only to work out where chargers are, but what charge card you need, and sign up accordingly.

In any case, there’s always the train!

Maybe – if you need to tow manure/sheep/caravans

Your choice will be limited, and this need was the major factor in the selection of the Outlander by one household. Pure EVs, and for that matter hybrids such as the Prius, don’t have this capacity.

If you do go down the PHEV route, take a look at online forums to understand real-life mpg for your type of journeys.

Noif you can’t charge at home.

Convenience is the EV’s unsung benefit. If you can’t charge at home and are not within easy walking distance of a public charging point, the hassle is probably not worth it. If you are close to one, you are probably also close to public transport – why not use that?!

No – if you are in it for the cost savings alone

The Treasury won’t easily give up the £31.58 billion [3] it earns from Fuel Duty and VED, as seen in this summer’s budget which undermined the fiscal incentive to purchase efficient petrol cars. Don’t expect ‘free’ charging points to remain free, or to always have a tax advantage over fossil-fuelled cars. If and when they become the norm, we should expect to see some radical changes to VED in response to the loss of revenue from Fuel Duty.

And finally…

A few more good things: the acceleration; increasing your range going down a big hill; more data for us energy geeks; and some decent cupholders too.

[1] Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which can travel up to 30 miles on a single charge before switching to hybrid mode.

[2] That cost less than £40,000

[3] http://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/Economics

 

Date posted: September 9, 2015 | Author: | 2 Comments »

Categories: Sustainable living

2 responses to “Are EVs for everyone?”

  1. Luke Tilley says:

    Yes – if you care for the global environment
    You do not mention in this article that a society where private car ownership is necessary is not sustainable and a major contributor the global socio/ecological catastrophe we are experience. adjusting our lifestyle to reduce our reliance on cars will improve our communities, and environment and reduce the inequality in the world. Cars are incredibly useful but are incredibly damaging for the environment wether electric & powered by renewables or not, we should be transitioning away from a culture of car reliance.

    • HHP says:

      Agree, but restrictions on car ownership are not going to work in the face of systemic problems including poor public transport and cycle safety; poor local employment/earning options; and high house prices (so both adults need and want flexibility to work). Where there are other options we use them – but EVs are a way both to reduce the impact of private transport and, potentially, significantly improve the efficiency of our power microgrid.

Leave a Reply to HHP Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *