What is an electric vehicle or EV?

All your electric vehicle (EV) questions answered in simple, straightforward language.

What is an EV?

An Electric Vehicle (EV) is a vehicle which uses a battery to power a motor to drive the wheels. As an EV drives, it uses up the energy stored in the battery, in the same way that a petrol or diesel car uses up fuel in the tank. This means an EV needs to be recharged to top-up the battery, much like putting petrol in the tank.

What are the types of electric vehicle or EV?

There are different types of EV. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) only use an on-board battery to power the motor. While Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) use a combination of a battery and a petrol or diesel engine.

The battery in a PHEV can be charged in the same way as a BEV, however, it is smaller and the electric range is typically limited to around 30 miles. For longer trips the petrol or diesel engine needs to be used. If PHEVs are left with batteries uncharged, then this can actually result in higher emissions than a conventionally-fuelled vehicle as the extra weight of the battery and electric motor is being carried around.

How do you charge an EV?

EVs are recharged using a dedicated charging socket called a chargepoint. EVs charge in a similar way to a laptop, phone or tablet. A cable is plugged in and carries electricity from the chargepoint to the EV to top-up the battery.

How long does it take to charge an EV?

The power delivered by the chargepoint will affect how long the EV takes to recharge. A standard chargepoint will take many hours to fully charge an EV and tends to be used for overnight charging. A high-powered rapid chargepoint will typically recharge an EV in under an hour but these are more expensive to use.

Where can I charge an EV?

Modern EVs can be charged at any chargepoint which are often located in car parks, on street kerbs and at service stations. People with off-street parking or a driveway typically install a chargepoint at home.

What are the benefits of switching to an EV?

EVS are cheaper, smoother and easier to drive. They are also better for the environment as they don’t produce tailpipe emissions and are classified as zero emission vehicles. This means that they are more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel powered vehicles.

Are EVs good for the environment?

While an EV is zero emission when driving, greenhouse gases are emitted during the life of the vehicle. Extracting raw materials, manufacturing the vehicle, generating the electricity and disposing of the EV all result in greenhouse gas emissions. Even so, EVs are considered better for the environment as they emit fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants over their life than a diesel or petrol car.

How far can an EV drive?

The typical range of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is around 180 miles. The range of the EV depends heavily on the capacity of the battery. Older models had ranges of around 80 miles, but improvements in battery technology with more compact battery packs now allow for much longer ranges. Today’s larger EVs can drive for over 250 miles before they need to recharge.

What is the range of an EV?

The actual range of an EV will depend on how you drive and the conditions you drive in. Just like petrol or diesel car driving, lots of acceleration will use up the range quicker than a smooth driving style.

Weather conditions can also have an impact on range because batteries tend to be less efficient in cold temperatures. This means that an EV with a small battery may meet the needs of the driver in the summer but might struggle with longer journeys in the winter months.

Are EVs cheaper to drive?

Fuel and maintenance costs for an EV are lower than a petrol or diesel car. Running cost savings often make EVs cheaper over the total ownership period despite their higher purchase price.

Are EVs silent?

EVs are quieter to drive than a petrol or diesel car. The electric motor is almost silent during operation.

Are EVs easy to drive?

The electric motor doesn’t require gears so only the direction of travel needs to be selected. The motor simply spins one way to go forwards and the opposite way to reverse. The weight and distribution of the batteries helps handling and comfort.

Are EVs fun to drive?

The instant power of the electric motor means EVs often have great acceleration. The motor also enables regenerative braking which feeds energy back into the battery. For more information, please visit the very informative educational resources from our partner Cenex for more detail on low emission transport covering electric vehicles and their infrastructure.