When it comes to electric cars are you plugged in, switched on and raring to go? Or do you need to charge up your depleted database?
No matter how long you have been driving and how much of a petrolhead you are, pure battery electric vehicles are new technology and many motorists will have more questions than answers.
Moving to electric motoring is not a decision you are going to rush into. Research shows that many EV drivers spent years doing their homework and overcoming their fears about range anxiety – being stranded with a drained battery – and how to keep it charged.
And that is before you think about how much they cost.
One thing is for sure – EVs are not going away and will just become more popular.
An AA survey of drivers predicts one in five vehicles on the road will be purely electric by 2030 which is when the ban on the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars comes into force. Hybrid sales can continue until 2035 if they can travel ‘substantial’ distances on battery power alone but that is yet to be revealed.
So you need to consider several factors when looking at EVs with the priority being recharging, range and the reality of living with one.
Recharging – The bulk of electric cars are charged at home, usually with a dedicated wall charger that will fully replenish the battery overnight ready to go again.
That usually means off-street parking – a driveway, garage or a dedicated space in a communal area near enough to your home for a power supply. If not, you might be able to charge at work or rely on the public charging network but it is not so convenient.
Range – What sort of driving do you do?
Many EVs now have official ranges of around 300 to 400 miles but remember, just like quoted petrol or diesel MPG, you are unlikely to achieve it in the real world. Factors like your driving style and cold weather eat into range.
That said, many family cars will deliver 150 to 200 miles and city cars more than 100 miles, driven sensibly.
We Brits drive just 20 miles a day on average so range anxiety is not an issue. Occasional longer journeys might need some planning for a recharging stop, along with a comfort break, or you could rent a car for longer journeys.
EVs are at home in urban traffic – quick off the mark with instant torque and power and driving at speeds that are not so demanding on the stored energy. You can also top up the battery a bit when braking and slowing down.
So, if you never drive more than 100 miles in a day, an EV with a smaller battery might fit the bill. And a lower list price makes it more affordable.
Many models offer different-sized battery options to widen their appeal. The bigger the battery in kWh the longer it will take to charge but the greater the range. Kia, is a UK market leader in electric vehicles and its e-Niro crossover is consistently the best-selling car.
It offers 39kWh and 64kWh batteries with power outputs of 100kW (134bhp) and 150kW (201bhp)
The smaller battery gives an official combined range of 180 miles and city range of 251 miles on a single charge. The bigger battery’s ranges are 282 and 382 miles.
A full charge from 0 to 100%, using a 7.2kW domestic wall charger, takes six hours 10 minutes for the 39kW model and nine hours 35 minutes for the 64kW e-Niro.
Ian Robertson, editor and publisher of Diesel Car and Eco Car, says many people go for the biggest battery available in a model, for maximum range to avoid the fear of running out of electricity.
But range anxiety is not an issue once people adapt to living with an EV and knowing how far they can go on a charge and where to top up if needed either at home, the workplace, supermarket or other public charging points.
Many manufacturers predict a move to smaller batteries, so reducing purchase cost, as people get into the EV mind-set and can better evaluate what range they need and get used to topping up the charge more regularly than they would fill the fuel tank on a petrol or diesel car.
Reality check – Some people never test drive the car they buy but it is advisable to get behind the wheel of a few EVs before taking the plunge. It will help you find out what the EV is capable of and dispel some myths. You will also have to get used to an automatic gearbox.
Pricing – More affordable EVs are coming to market all the time and economies of scale and shared technology and development will help to drive costs down.
EVs tend to cost more than equivalent petrol or diesel cars but lower running costs help offset that.
Electricity charging is considerably cheaper than fossil fuel, you pay no annual road tax and EVs are usually cheaper to service with fewer moving parts to maintain.