Electric Vehicles: What to Know About Charging, Maintenance & Performance
There’s no doubt about it – electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common. We’re already seeing more and more electric cars on our roads from top brands such as Kia, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and even electric-powered classic cars.
When people think of electric vehicles (EVs), they often think of sluggish golf buggies that lack range, speed and technology. Fortunately, electric car manufacturing has come a long way. Advances in technology, the pursuit of affordable electric cars and environmental concerns mean that the future of cars could lie in electric hands.
If you’re unsure about the basics of how electric vehicles work, how they charge and how to get started with an electric car, this post will tell you all you need to know and more.
How do electric vehicles work?
Unlike petrol or diesel cars that run off a traditional internal combustion engine, electric vehicles are powered by an electrically charged battery pack. This powers the motor, turns the wheels and does everything else in between. With that in mind, these cars rely on being electrically charged rather than being topped up with petrol or diesel.
Charging your electric vehicle
One of the biggest myths about electric cars is that they constantly need to be charged. Fortunately, plugging in your vehicle to charge quickly becomes second nature. Unlike filling up a fuel-burning car, which only takes a few minutes at the pump, recharging an electric car can take anywhere from 25 to 60 minutes, depending on the battery size and charging speed. Most modern electric cars on today’s roads have a range between 150 and 200 miles before they need to be charged.
EVs can be charged either at home or via the use of public charging points. It’s becoming increasingly common to have a charging point installed at your house, especially since the UK government has set aside funding to subsidise up to 75% of the cost of doing so.
For some, a home charging point may not be feasible – but that doesn’t rule out getting an electric car. There are around 15,500 public charging points in the UK with that number increasing every year. These days, you can charge your car when parked at the supermarket, gym, cinema, retail parks, work, parks – you name it.
MOTs for electric vehicles
With an EV, you may be able to avoid paying road tax but your vehicle will still need an MOT. EVs have to pass an MOT after they are three years old as with any other car. The biggest difference between EVs and petrol/diesel cars during the MOT test is that there’s no emissions test. Although you’ll save time at the test centre, you may not necessarily save money.
Electric car maintenance
Maintaining an electric car, according to some estimates, will cost around one-third of the current cost of maintaining a petrol-powered car. Although EVs aren’t indestructible, they do require considerably less maintenance than fossil-fuel-burning cars.
The good news is that EVs use regenerative braking, which means that the car slows without using the brakes at all. When the brake pedal is pressed in an EV, the motor reverses, which slows the wheels of the car but at the same time generates energy that is transferred to the car’s batteries for later use. As a result, you get to save on brake replacements and energy.
When it comes to EV maintenance, there are some top tips you should follow from day one.
- Battery – It will become less efficient over time and may eventually need to be replaced. However, many manufacturers provide a battery warranty that lasts for 8 to 10 years or 1000,000 to 150,000 miles.
- Fluids – As with any car, certain fluids are essential. Check the coolant, brake and windscreen wiper fluid regularly, topping up as needed.
- Brake pads – Thanks to regenerative braking, maintaining brake pads is much easier in an EV than a traditional car. Even so, it’s worth keeping them in good condition year-round.
- Wipers – Electric vehicles have standard windscreen wipers, and need to be maintained in the same way as a traditional car. Generally, it’s a good idea to replace wiper blades twice a year (at the start of winter and the start of summer).
Getting top mileage out of your electric lease car
One of the main concerns for motorists about EVs is the number of miles they expect from a single charge. Fortunately, the range of electric cars is better than ever – and continues to improve with every new model that comes out. But there are still plenty of ways you can squeeze out a few bonus journeys from your electric car before you need to plug in again.
- Drive smoothly – Aggressive driving will drain your EV’s battery at an accelerated rate. Maintain an even speed and avoid hard braking. Keep scanning the road ahead to anticipate changes in speed.
- Slow down – Whenever possible, keep your speed under 60 mph. If your car has an ‘eco’ mode, engage it for gentler acceleration.
- Maximise regenerative braking – Enable your car’s maximum regenerative setting to send extra power back to the vehicle’s battery while decelerating and only use the brakes when necessary.
- Steady climate control – Running an EV’s heater, especially at full blast, puts a drain on battery power. Likewise, operating the air conditioning consumes battery power at a rapid rate. Pre-heat (or cool) your car while it’s plugged in so you can use climate control less while on the road.
- Tend to the tyres – As with a conventional car, proper tyre maintenance is imperative. Under- or over-inflated tyres can reduce your EV’s range and lead to uneven tread wear. Check the air pressure of each tyre at least once a month, preferably when the tyres are cool.
- Plan a more efficient route – If you can, avoid areas known for heavy traffic. Traversing steep grades uses more energy, too. It may take less time to get to your destination by driving on the motorway, but you could get more miles to your charge by opting for a route that allows you to drive steadily at lower speeds.
Keep in mind that as EV technology continues to evolve, the range of these vehicles will only increase.