Is An Electric Car Right For Me?

electric car charging

Should I Seriously Consider Buying An Electric Car!  

I have come across a number of discussions, by aspiring owners of electric cars.  In most cases, these discussions remind me of my gruesome science lectures in high school. Yes, you guessed correctly. Science and I are poles apart!   

So, no surprise, in that, my affinity for complex ‘academic’ discussions about EV battery density is near zero! I rather assess buying an electric car in the context of everyday practicality i.e. is an EV right for me?

Electric vehicles charging
Electric Vehicles Charging

Below are some basic explanations on EV terminology.  For a more detailed list of jargons, please follow this link

  • Ultra-low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs): any vehicle that is capable of reducing pollution to below 75g of CO2/km and capable of a zero emission range of at least 10 miles, is a ULEV.  Yes, all EVs are ULEVs!  
  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): Any EV that runs only on a rechargeable battery is a BEV i.e. a BEV will not have any other type of power source, like an internal combustion engine.  Still confused, then walk to the back of the vehicle. If you do not see a tailpipe, then rest assured it is a BEV! 
  • Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs): It is another type of an EV, except it has dual fuel sources i.e. a rechargeable battery and an internal combustion engine (ICE).  Yes, you do both, recharge the battery from an external source and go to a traditional fuel station to fill the tank.  What fun! 

Do I Need A Car?

It is a question worth deliberating.  Not over a nice glass of wine, but under a cold shower.  It is an astounding statistic that most cars are parked 95% of the time.  Incredible, but hardly surprising.  So, only buy a car if you are really going to use it!   

Public transportation, car sharing schemes and walking are great alternatives! 

Public transportation London tube
Public Transportation: London

If you live in a city with good public transportation, then use it.  If public transportation is not your thing, then use a car sharing scheme, like e-carclub.  Car clubs are both easy to use and cost effective.  Last but not least, walk.  Great for the mind, body and soul!  

However, if you live away from good public transportation, have limited access to car mobility schemes and the nearest grocery store is a few miles away.  Then maybe, buying an electric car is worth considering.  Of course, there are numerous excellent reasons to buy an EV versus polluting petrol and diesel cars.  Below are just a few!

Top Reasons To Buy An Electric Car!  

  • Cheaper to run
  • Cheaper to maintain and service (fewer moving parts)
  • Low to zero tailpipe C02 emissions (yes, the planet matters)
  • Low to zero road tax 
  • Government PiCG incentive (take advantage before it is removed)
  • New models with longer ranges (lower range anxiety and more confidence)
  • Recharging an EV battery is far cheaper than filling a full tank of fuel 

There are certainly a number of factors to assess in the ‘discovery process’ of buying an electric car.  However, apart from budget, the two other most relevant factors to assess are range and charging.  

Will I be using the EV for short commutes or long distances?

The good news, is that EVs today, are capable of meeting the needs of both short and long distance travel.  Even pure electric cars i.e. BEVs, are capable of a range up to 300 miles on a single charge.  However, most BEV models can achieve an emission free range of up to 150 miles on a single charge. Of course, extended range electric vehicles (E-REVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are capable of longer distances.  

Though range anxiety is a ‘hot topic’ of discussion, in my view, the issue of range anxiety has been exaggerated to a large extent.  Do not get me wrong.  It is a valid concern, but needs to be placed in the appropriate context.  

The average commutein the UK is 12 miles. Now, unless your local grocery store, pub, gym or school is 300 miles away, rest assured you will get to your local destination and back without a worry!  So bottom-line , most EVs will easily meet the demands of everyday commutes, to include leisure and work.  

However, if you have finally discovered the Shackleton in you, and want to travel the length and breadth of the country, I suggest buying a conventional hybrid.  At least, in your explorations you will keep the emissions lower. 

Do I have access to charging?  

Charging an electric car
Charging An Electric Car

Home Charging

If you live away from a big city and have access to private parking, then in all probability, charging your EV at home will be relatively straightforward.  Moreover, you can take advantage of the government subsidy for home charging i.e. the OLEV grant scheme.  

However, if you do live in a city, ‘charging at home’ is not quite as easy.  Let’s assume you live in an urban area with no ability to charge at home.  Your best bet would be to identify the closest public charging points to you and to use it.  To be honest, it is not the most convenient, but it is an option worth considering. 

Now to public charging and workplace charging.  Yes, public charging infrastructureneeds to develop further.  And I sincerely hope it does.  Having said that, last month, EV charging points in the UK surpassed the number of petrol stations. Wow!  

But lets put this concern in context.  The majority of EVs are charged overnight at home.  Public charging infrastructure, though critical,  is not quite as extensively used as home charging.  Moreover, workplace charging infrastructure is being deployed rapidly. 

So bottom-line. If you are that individual, who has found Shackleton within, lives 300 miles from your local school, pub, grocery store.   And has no home charging, no workplace charging and very limited public charging.  Well guess what?  An EV is not right for you today! However, for everyone else, it works! 


Other points to consider

Just like ‘location, location, location’ is the mantra for real estate success, ‘research, research, research’ is the mantra for buying the right EV.  Please do not take everything a car salesperson says as gospel.  

From my rounds of calling automotive manufacturers and dealers to learn more about their electric car models, the most common theme was ‘Let me find out and get back to you!’.  Honestly, most of them could not even spell ‘electric car’, let alone discuss the differences between BEV, PHEV, E-REV, traditional hybrids etc.  Research, with a capital R!  

Also, do not be in a hurry to buy an electric car.  I would suggest rent one for a few days or weeks.  Assess how it fits in your everyday life.  Is it easy for you to charge?  Are you comfortable with the range?  Do you like the driving experience?  You cannot answer these questions reading websites!  So, please go rent an electric car.  

A brief comment on budget. I am a cautious spender and would encourage you to keep a conservative budget. Do not go and buy the most expensive EV. Buy something in the mid-range, like a Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf. In due course, you can always upgrade to a fancy Jaguar I-PACE.

There is loads of useful information on the e-zoomed electric living blog. Also, you can easily source your electric car from our Buy New section. You can also get insurance, green energy, breakdown cover and car finance from us.

I suspect, if you are like most of us.  You relish clean air. Detest noise and air pollution.  And certainly love our only home ‘earth’.   Then no doubt, you will become an electric car owner!   



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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