Best Electric Cars For The Summer Holidays?

summer holiday and beach

Another Impending Airline Strike Perfectly Timed To Kill Your Hard-Earned Holiday 


With the looming British Airways strike perfectly timed for the summer holidays, it is another harsh reminder that ‘flying’ is a poor option for a holiday getaway.  In fact, the BBC headlines this morning underscores the point very well: ‘Super break and late rooms holiday firms go into administration’. With two packaged firms collapsing and affecting more than 50,000 travellers!

The UK certainly tops my list for a summer holiday destination.  In fact, last year I was hiking Ben Nevis and across the Isle of Skye.  I am always keen to remind myself that ‘middle age’ is only a state of mind! 

It is, but impossible, not to find a destination across the British Isles that does not meet the most demanding of holiday expectations.  So for all those, who may have their well deserved holiday ruined by an airline strike, or for those yet deciding what to do, I have the perfect suggestion: rent an electric car and take an electrified driving holiday! 


Not All Is Lost: Rent An Electric Car And Truly Electrify Your Family Holiday


happy children

I have said it numerous times.  The best way to buy a car, is to rent one for a few days.  Taking a car for a ‘test drive’ for fifteen minutes, with some over zealous car salesperson pounding you with a well rehearsed sales pitch, is not the best way to make one of your biggest purchase decisions as a family! 

With the holiday season upon us, there is no better a time to try a new electric car. Two weeks of driving around will certainly give you a very good and ‘real’ sense of an electric car. 

For many of you, electric cars are still a fairly ‘new concept’.  Many of you have seen these silent emission free vehicles in your towns and villages, but have never had an opportunity to drive one.

Some fear misconceptions like ‘range anxiety’, while others fear changing to a new technology i.e. an electric motor versus an internal combustion engine (ICE).  I am like many of you, in that, I too am hesitant in adopting new technology.  For the longest time I did my very best to avoid using a ‘smart phone’.  But when I finally did start using my iPhone, I never looked back.  In fact, I wish I had done it earlier.  

Many drivers who have already migrated to electric vehicles echo the same sentiment ‘I wish I had just done it earlier’!  


What Can We Garner From Renting An EV For A Summer Holiday 


Short answer ‘loads’! In a driving holiday, I encourage both mum and dad to share the driving workload.  This way both will get a good sense of how an EV fits in the context of everyday practicalities.  

Below are just some of the issues to ascertain:

  • Is an electric car easy to drive? 
    • my sister, who has been driving a BMWi3 electric car for the past two years, has found driving the EV really easy.  And my sister is no Susie Wolff
  • Is an EV easy to charge?
    • plugging an EV cable for charging is really quite as simple as plugging in the kettle.  Try it and you will come to the same conclusion! 
  • Is range anxiety really an issue?
    • my favourite EV myth!  Depending on the EV you rent, you will realise that the latest all-electric models have a comfortable ‘real world’ range of 150 miles and over.  Depending on the distance you intend to travel for your holiday, you can plan your recharging stops to coincide with a nice family lunch or tea break! Remember, it is a holiday not a F1 race.  The destination alone is not important, so enjoy the journey!   
  • Is an EV spacious?  Can I easily fit all the family and luggage?
    • one of the key advantages of an electric car is that, it is usually more spacious than a traditional petrol or diesel car.  The reason for this is simple.  Electric cars (BEVs) have far fewer moving parts and components compared to an internal combustion engine and therefore do not need as much space.  Moreover, most of the latest EV models are designed ground up as electric cars and therefore placing the EV batteries in the most appropriate manner for performance and cabin space.
  • Do I cherish the smoother and lower noise drive of an electric car?
    • if you are like most of us, yes! Also keep in mind this could be your first experience of regenerative braking!
  • Do the kids like emission-free driving?
    • children have a far greater affinity to the environment than adults. I suspect, the kids will not need any convincing whatsoever in migrating to an EV.
  • Is it cheaper to drive an EV versus a petrol or diesel engine?
    • yes:  recharging an EV, even at public charging points, will only set you back up to £15 for a full recharge. Filling a full tank of petrol and diesel will set you back up to £80.  Yes, you are right to scream in delight i.e. more money to spend on wonderful meals during the holiday.

Some other points to consider:

  • Can we use an EV for the following:
    • as a primary household vehicle?
    • to drop the children to school?
    • to do all the local grocery shopping?
    • to go meet family and friends?
    • for the gym? 
    • for work?

Which Type Of Electric Car Should We Rent For Our Holiday? 


Nissan Leaf Hatch Electric
Nissan Leaf BEV

Before I answer which type of EV is most appropriate for your holiday, let us first make certain we are on the same page with the basics:

  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): These EVs are also referred to as ‘pure electric vehicles’ or ‘all-electric vehicles’.  A BEV is any EV that runs only on rechargeable EV batteries. A BEV will not have any other type of power source/ drivetrain i.e. like an internal combustion engine.  BEVs are recharged via dedicated external power sources at home, the workplace or at public charging points.  A BEV has zero tailpipe emissions. The all-electric Jaguar I-PACE is an example of a BEV.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs): It is another type of an EV, except it has dual fuel sources i.e. a rechargeable EV battery and an internal combustion engine (ICE).  Yes, it has both drivetrains in the vehicle. With a PHEV you need to fill the fuel tank and also recharge the onboard EV batteries.  The on-board batteries are recharged in a similar manner to a BEV i.e.  a dedicated external power source. A PHEV does have tailpipe emissions but is significantly lower emissions than traditional petrol or diesel cars and a PHEV is capable of driving a certain number of miles emission-free.  The Mini Countryman Cooper PHEV is an example.

Now, back to the key question: ‘Which type of EV for the holiday’?  I certainly recommend that you rent an all-electric car i.e. a BEV instead of a PHEV.  My reasons for this are as follows:

  • In the fast moving transition from polluting petrol and diesel cars to low emission driving, PHEVs are merely a stepping stone to zero-emission driving.  I therefore encourage everyone to take a ‘longer stride’ towards BEVs.  In any case, you are only renting the BEV for the holiday i.e. you are not buying one.  Therefore do not fear taking the leap! 
  • I am convinced that:
    • For those of you skeptical about electric cars, your concerns will be largely diminished. In fact, I believe, you will be impressed enough to convert to zero emission driving 
    • For those of you, who are already EV ‘converts’, you will find the experience reinforce your convictions  

Which Electric Car Should We Rent For Our Holiday? 


I suggest two options:

  • If you are just two adults or a small family of three, the following BEVs should be suitable.  These can be rented from rental companies like ecarclub:  
    • Nissan Leaf 
    • BMWi3
    • Renault Zoe 
  • If you are a larger family, then I would recommend the following:  
Jaguar IPACE SUV Electric
All-Electric Jaguar I-PACE SUV
  • Jaguar I-PACE 
  • Tesla Model X 
  • Tesla Model S

Practical Tips For Driving An Electric Car For Holidays


road map
  • Plan ahead:  like everything else in life, ‘forward planning’ is the key to an enjoyable holiday.  Plan your route using tools like Charge Map. This way you can identify public charging points:
    • Check if fast or rapid charging is available.  Where possible, always look for faster public charging points.  This way you can plan your stops i.e. lunch etc.
  • Check the WLTP mileage of your EV.  Best to then reduce this estimate by 20% to be prudent in your planning. This way you will know how many recharging stops you will require. 
  • Please do not drive the battery all the way down to a very low charge level.  Be sensible. Look to recharge once the battery is down to 30% charge.  This way you do not need to panic, and you certainly do not want to be left stranded without battery juice! 
  • Make sure you understand the type of charging cable required.  Do not feel shy to ask the rental company a million questions.  I am never shy to ask!  
  • When you book your holiday accommodation, do ask in advance if they have EV charging. You will be surprised, but many hotels etc. now cater for EV charging points.  If there are no EV charging points at you hotel, identify early on the EV charging points closest to your hotel.  Again use Charge Map.
  • Identify the network operator for the charging points you intend to use. Do you need to download the app in advance to use the charge point?  How do you pay? Via the app or contactless etc.? For example, ecotricity, an e-zoomed partner, owns and operate the Electric Highway. Use it!

Don’t fret, all this may seem daunting, but honestly it is not.  Once on the road you will fast get used to it.  I wish you all a wonderful and electrified summer holiday.  I hope you return converted to EVs and I would love to hear about your experiences.  

Hopefully on your next holiday, you will keep an empty seat in your brand spanking new electric car for me! 


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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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