Despite what the ex-Top Gear guys on The Grand Tour may think, electric vehicles are here to stay. But, well, what exactly are they and why should you consider them as a viable alternative to petrol or diesel?
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
An Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) is a car or van that emits 75g of carbon dioxide (CO2) or less per kilometre travelled.
There are three kinds: pure electric vehicles (EVs), electric range-extender vehicles (E-REVs), and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), more of which in a minute. But first a break from the acronyms…
Are Friends Electric?
Or, as this section should have been titled – but being partial to a bit of Gary Numan, we couldn’t resist – What are the benefits of greener cars and vans?
Apart from doing their bit to save the planet, ultra-low emission vehicles have some other, less obvious benefits going for them:
Lower running and maintenance costs
You’ll save money on fuel, with a pure electric vehicle costing £2 to £4 for a 100-mile trip (source: Energy Saving Trust). And as there are fewer mechanical parts, servicing and maintenance costs are also lower.
We’re partial to a bit of Gaz.
Government grants mean potentially thousands of pounds worth of savings, while the lower the emissions, the lower the Benefit In Kind tax rates for company car divers. There are also lower rates of Vehicle Excise Duty.
They may not be Clarkson’s cup of tea, but plenty of folk reckon greener cars are actually a better drive than petrol or diesel vehicles. We debunk this myth, and a few others, below.
What different types of ULEVs are there?
Pure electric vehicles (PEVs) use an electric motor powered by a high-performance battery. They need to be charged.
Self-charging hybrid also run on electricity, but they also have a small petrol engine that is able to act as a generator to top up the battery charge when needed.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) feature an electric motor powered by a small battery, and a petrol or diesel engine. PHEVs typically only have a short electric driving range, possibly between 20-30 miles (depending on make and model); the vehicle will operate on its petrol or diesel engine for longer journeys.
Charging a ULEV
Most people charge their electric vehicles at home overnight using a home charge point. Grants are available for home charge points. There is also an ever-increasing public charging infrastructure around the UK (there are more than 19,000 connectors at over 6,000 locations across the UK), many of them at motorway service stations (96% of motorway services have rapid chargers).
Some public charging points are ‘open access’ (free). But most belong to one of the main network providers. You may need either their contactless RFID card or mobile app, depending upon the provider.
There’s an agreed standard for the sockets found on the latest charging points – all now using the universal ‘Type Two’ socket.
Myths and facts about ULEVs
Myth #1: There’s only a small variety of electric vehicles
The range of electric vehicles is increasing month by month, and this trend is set to accelerate over the coming years. Already there is an electric vehicle in most car body styles, there is an increasing number of electric vans coming to market, and there are even electric trucks and buses.
The following manufacturers already produce electric vehicles…
Cars: Audi, BMW, BYD, Citroën, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Mitsubishi, Morgan, Nissan, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Vans: BD, Citroën, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Ford, Renault and LDV.
Things have come a long way since 1985.
Myth #2: Electric vehicles are expensive
Some electric vehicles are more expensive to buy than similar petrol vehicles, but have much lower running costs – usually around one-fifth of the running costs of petrol vehicles – so are typically cheaper to run on a whole life cost basis.
Myth #3: Electric vehicles have limited driving ranges
Many electric vehicles had real-world ranges of around 80-100 miles over recent years, but these are now typically over 200 miles in the case of many pure electric vehicles, subject to individual make and model. It’s worth bearing in mind that 56% of car trips are under five miles (source: National Travel Survey: England 2017).
Myth #4: Electric vehicles are difficult to charge
Most electric vehicle owners charge their vehicles at home overnight using a home charge point. There is an ever-expanding public charging infrastructure, with rapid chargers at virtually all motorway service stations.
Myth #5: Electric vehicles aren’t good to drive
This is a common statement from people who haven’t driven electric vehicles. People who have driven electric vehicles have a very different view. Electric vehicles have instant responses when accelerating due to 100% of torque being available at all times, they’re extremely quiet, and very refined. Most EVs have their batteries in the floor, resulting in a low centre of gravity, and therefore excellent handling.
See also: Why create a greener vehicle fleet?
Want to talk to us about your ULEV options? Call us on 01925 713 212 for an informal chat, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get right back to you.