Image for post One Woman Owner – Should I buy an electric car?

One Woman Owner – Should I buy an electric car?

The electric car is a buzz word right now, and with good reason. Between ever more stringent emissions zones in the centre of London, and soon other major cities in the UK and Europe, and rising taxes on diesel cars, it’s easy to see why the motoring masses are thinking much more seriously about plugging in rather than filling up. We deal with the question of which electric car you should buy in [link]this separate article[link]. First, you should ask yourself whether your lifestyle actually suits an electric car, and if it does - what kind of electric car? These are the knotty questions you need to answer and that we’re here to demystify for you. – and that we’re here to help you figure out - before you start Googling how far you can go in a Nissan Leaf. What sort of electric cars are there? There are three types of electric car. The first is a pure electric car, just like the aforementioned Nissan Leaf. These cars have a large battery pack that powers an electric motor. The benefits include the zero exhaust emissions and rock-bottom fuel costs (a full charge is typically between £9 and £20 from a home socket depending on the car and energy tariff), but the downside is that you can face restrictive driving range of anything from 50 miles right up to 300 miles depending on the car you’re considering. Charging an electric car is measured in hours rather than minutes, hence the angst when it comes to longer journeys. Do also remember that if you buy a used plug-in car then you’re eligible for the government’s OLEV grant – a £500 discount on a dedicated car charger for your home. This brings the price for a home charger down to under £400, and it could make life with an electric car much easier – and much cheaper given the convenience of being able to top up quickly at home. Check out PodPoint and Chargemaster - two of the biggest home car charger providers – for more information. The second type of electric car is a plug-in hybrid. These cars have a mid-sized battery pack and electric motor that typically delivers just 20 miles of pure electric running, but then there’s also a normal petrol or diesel engine to keep you going. This means that those with short daily commutes can manage seriously cheap or even fuel-free journeys in the week, with the freedom of a normal petrol or diesel car for the occasional longer journey. The emissions are great for low tax and free access to London, too. It’s electric smugness and cost savings, without the anxiety. Or that’s the idea. Just bear in mind that plug-in hybrids such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (a common name for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) are often expensive to buy and are rarely economical when the normal engine is in action, so you need to be able to plug in regularly to get the benefits. Then there are full hybrids, which are also sometimes called self-charging hybrids; it’s exactly the same thing. You’ve heard of the Toyota Prius? Well, that’s the poster-child of the hybrid car. You don’t plug these cars in at all. They have a small battery that is only ever charged by the car’s petrol engine and braking system, giving a limited amount of electric running. This generally delivers great emissions (although not all are good enough to warrant free entry to the congestion zone) and fuel economy – particularly if you spend most of your time bustling about the city. However, they’re rarely more economical than your average diesel when out of town. Which one suits my needs? The critical thing here is to consider your mileage. If you regularly do hundreds of miles in a day, then a pure electric car is unlikely to suit. It’s not impossible, but a used Tesla, or the new-in-2019 Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh and Kia e-Niro are really your only options for that sort of distance. The long-haul drivers are still, until the infrastructure and average driving range improves, better off with a conventional efficient diesel. If you more often do short journeys, but also do long jaunts every so often to far flung places, then a plug-in hybrid could be for you. Just make sure that you do have access to a plug (a normal three-pin domestic socket will do), as running a plug-in hybrid without charging it regularly will likely actually cost more in fuel than if you just run a normal petrol or diesel car. Just have a serious think about whether a pure electric car might do the job for you. Most drivers average well under 30 miles per day, and public rapid chargers are now common on the main motorways, and are even encroaching on more rural areas – with only more due to arrive. There are, in fact, nearly 20,000 public car chargers in the UK. Pure electric cars are cheap to run and far more reliable than a normal petrol or diesel car, and you shouldn’t notice significant drop in the battery performance (and therefore the maximum driving range) until the car is well past 100,000 miles. They’re not for everyone, but they are dead easy to live with for many motorists – particularly those who have off-road parking to allow a home car charger. A full hybrid car is a great option for those who do higher mileage, especially if it includes inner-city runs, just be sure that an efficient diesel won’t be more economical still. Read on to have a look at our favourite used electric cars to suit any lifestyle…

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