Before even thinking about whether to buy a Hybrid or Electric vehicle, every prospective owner should want to know what they are and how they work.
Electric and Hybrid vehicles can be split into a few main types, best summarised into:
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)
BEVs are fully electric vehicles that run on rechargeable batteries alone. You can charge them up using a domestic plug, although this does take longer, a wall mounted charger installed at home or a public charging point.
Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)
FCEVs are powered by hydrogen, more efficient that the internal combustion engine, and produce no harmful tailpipe emissions emitting only water vapour and warm air. Instead of needing to charge them up you can refill them with pure hydrogen gas at hydrogen fuel stations.
Full hybrid electric vehicles (FHEVs)
FHEVs have both a combustion engine and a battery. They can run solely on the combustion engine or solely the electric engine or a combination of the two. It’s worth noting that the battery can only be recharged by running the combustion engine so you wouldn’t be able to plug it in to charge.
Mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEVs)
MHEVs have both an electric and combustion engine however, unlike the FHEVs, the electric part of the engine can’t power the car on it’s own. Instead, the electric battery will assist the engine, but not enough to power the car fully, basically a milder version of the full hybrid electric. The mild hybrid recharges its electric battery through regenerative braking.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)
One of the most commonly seen types of hybrid vehicle, the PHEV is usually what comes to mind when people use the term ‘hybrid car’. The plug-in hybrid type, as the name suggests, requires plugging into a power source to charge the electric battery. Unlike regular hybrids however, the plug-in varieties tend to have a higher battery capacities and can drive short distances on all-electric power.
All-electric vehicles need to be charged with electric whereas hybrid vehicles use electric to supplement an internal combustion engine.
A cheaper form of motoring
The number one driver for owners of an electric vehicle was the cheaper form of motoring to support their lifestyle. When referring to their mileage, EV lives up to the promise of saving you money.
Free charging points
Whether finding a free charging point by a local shopping centre or where you do your weekly food shop, there are free charging options to fit around your lifestyle.
Greater annual savings
By taking a look at a range of different energy suppliers, and taking the time understand peak and off-peak times, it can be possible to compare the annual costs of owning an EV directly with an ICE counterpart. Many have found the greater cost benefits outweighed the greater upfront cost for purchasing an EV.
EDF energy, for example, offer GoElectric EV tariffs, with Britain’s lowest off-peak rate for cheaper charging overnight, at 4.5p per kWh. (Price correct on 13/04/2021).
Extended warranties when purchasing new from a manufacturer softens the blow of transitioning to electric, with a large draw that your vehicle will be looked after.
Relationship with Hybrid
Even though you may have shunned switching to an EV straight away, hybrid cars act as a perfect stepping stone and can be a lot more comfortable building a hybrid vehicle into your lifestyle, if you’re not yet ready to switch to full-electric.
The added space within newer EV models is an attractive draw for people to switch. When you find an EV model built from the ground up, with careful consideration of where the battery will be, you may find yourself with extra space in your vehicle, ideal for carrying shopping, travelling with luggage or transporting your family from a to b.
EV for life
Consumers that make the switch to EV are converts, and it is tricky to find an EV driver that would switch back to an ICE counterpart.
Savvy hidden savings
Driving an EV offers more incentives to be had. Simply by owning an electric car, you can uncover hidden savings, such as free AA membership by having an EV serviced, or discounts off a ferry ticket.
Owners exceeded range capabilities
Despite non-switchers doubting the promised range of electric vehicles, many EV owners have be thrilled when they could get more range than specified by the manufacturer, by careful driving.
Driving an electric car certainly feels different when you try it for the first time! The first thing you may notice is that it is almost silent, with engine noise only apparent when you are going fast and you get the wind and tyre sounds you are used to.
Apart from that, EVs drive in a similar way to cars you may be used to. They usually have an automatic transmission, and are therefore very easy to drive. But what is exciting about them, is that they have lots of "grunt" or "torque" from a standing start, which means that when you want to accelerate quickly, you really can feel the power and performance.
There are lots of myths about electric car batteries requiring replacement after 10 years, but with care and maintenance, electric cars can often last far longer than 150,000 miles.
Electric cars are proven to be more fuel efficient and better for the environment. Depending on your focus, there are a number of factors that make owning an electric car beneficial.
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Road tax is based on vehicle emissions and year of registration. Pure electric vehicles are exempt from tax. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) pay reduced road tax.
Fewer moving parts often equate to cheaper maintenance costs for electric cars because there is no need for components like oil, gaskets or spark plugs to be replaced.
The key to electric car longevity is the battery. But these can be replaced. On average most manufacturers guarantee between 100,000 and 150,000 miles’ worth of battery life.
How long it takes to charge an electric car depends on the car, whether you want a full battery or nor, and the type of charging point you plug into. The range of time taken can be from under an hour to eight hours to charge an electric vehicle fully.
Some public charging points, such as those at supermarkets, are free to use. Rapid charging points found at motorway service stations usually require a fee. Some companies offer a monthly subscription service that enables you to access some charging points without any additional fees charged.
Electric cars actually have fewer moving parts in the engine. Because of this they are considered a reliable option.
Regenerative braking captures energy that would otherwise be lost through braking and uses the motor (that continues to spin as the car slows down) as a generator to create electricity which recharges the battery. Hybrids and plug-ins tend to use regenerative braking too.
Despite there being public and home charging options for EV owners. The lack of EV infrastructure in the UK is a concern among consumers. A common worry is the possibility of owning an EV, but with limited or no access to charging. People living in flats, terraced housing, for example, may not feel comfortable charging from home or feel insecure about relying on charging points away from home.
Although manufacturers provide the range of an EV, consumers may still question the true range of an EV they are looking to buy. To counter this, people are able to check third party websites to get a better understanding of what their mileage would be and how this translates to electric vehicle range.
Those looking to switch, may have questions about how car features such as headlights and air conditioning could affect their general range.