With the ever growing popularity of electric vehicles in the UK there are now more than 100,000 plug-in cars on our roads compared with 3,500 in 2013. With more choice than ever before the UK electric car market is booming, which is no wonder as eco friendly cars are more economical, smoother to drive, see lower tax and maintenance costs and are much quieter than their conventional diesel/petrol counterparts.
Traditional EV’s are the perfect choice for those who have short commutes, and are popular for those that live in cities. However, as technology moves forward we are seeing the emergence of vehicles such as the new Tesla which include models that have a range of 300 miles on one charge. This alongside prices becoming more affordable, the benefits of owning an EV outweigh the initial cost by providing a greater reward of lower running costs and a cleaner environment.
Helping the Environment
For those that are concerned about the effects on the environment, purchasing an electric vehicle will help reduce the pollution rates produced by diesel/petrol-fuelled equivalents. We are now seeing a change in the buying patterns of more environmentally conscious purchasers who are ditching their polluting vehicles for EVs in the hope that this help to clean up our cities.
Carl Bennett, Managing Director at Trade Skills 4U, has been thinking about changing his car for a while now, and being an environmentally conscious person himself, has decided to take the plunge and invest in a new Tesla.
We caught up with Carl to ask what his reasons were for buying an Electric Vehicle:
What made you choose a Tesla? Initially to help control my personal pollution output for future generations, also as Managing Director of an innovative electrical training company I like to promote electrical innovations such as this. Elon Musk, co-founder, CEO and Product Architect at Tesla describes people buying Tesla’s as 'Early Adopters’, and are being rewarded by receiving free charging for the life of the car. It’s clearly the future, and I believe that the Tesla supercharging system is the best available, with charging points all over the UK and growing.
What model did you choose and why? I’ve chosen the Tesla X. It’s an SUV type with 6 seats, which also has plenty of storage space, which when travelling between our facilities around the UK is useful, especially if I’m asked to carry materials and all manner of equipment. Plus the front has a handy space for my golf clubs!
What attracted you to this car? With an extended range of 300 miles, it enables me to travel between Birchwood and Gatwick on a usual overnight home charge, then I’ll charge it again at Gatwick for the journey back home to Warrington. Plus it looks great! Less sporty than the previous Tesla models which suits me as I don’t do sporty!
What are the benefits of owning an EV? Not having to fuel-up on a smelly cold raining garage forecourt on a February morning really appeals to me. Essentially with the home charger I have a fuelling station on my own drive. It’s so easy, I plug it in at night, I wake up and its fully charged with 300 plus miles, ready to take me anywhere, and obviously, the costs of petrol v electrical charging.
What is the driving experience like? Superb, I’ve test driven a few Tesla’s now. The drive is smooth, quiet, not silent and instantly responsive. I’ve also used the auto pilot which is scary but brilliant and statistically safer than human control. However, other than maybe sitting in slow moving M25 traffic, I have no doubt that I’ll use it fully when regulation allows it.
What are the best features? The technology, the huge computer screen in the dash contains all sorts of goodies, including a huge Google map, a web browser, rear facing HD camera, plus the interior cabin is like a spacecraft, and gorgeous.
How do you intend to use the car? Commuting between our facilities around the UK, especially so as we expand further. Plus the usual short journey errands, oh and to Rugby League matches along the M62.
How will you charge your vehicle? I’m currently having a charger installed at my house, but I’ve also applied for TradeSkills4U to be a Tesla destination location. The charger bays will be installed at our Gatwick and Birchwood centres in August, which will be free-of-charge for anyone to use, even none customers.
What do you think about the Governments plans for electric vehicles? With the ever increasing news about banning new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, there will be a greater need for Electrical Car Charging installers in the UK, which will give electrical installers the opportunity to generate an additional income stream. As the UK’s premier specialist electrical training provider my aim is to increase our Electric Car / Vehicle Charging Point Installation training to become the biggest in the UK.
What Car? Top 10 electric cars
Below we've shared with you the What Car? count down of their favourite EVs and look ahead to the models you'll be able to buy soon.
10. Volkswagen e-Up
The regular Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars, and this electric version is just as practical and good to drive; it feels almost entirely uncompromised by its conversion to electric power. It's just that unfortunately, it costs twice as much as the petrol models.
9. Nissan Leaf
One of the more affordable electric models on sale, the Leaf is about the same size as a Vauxhall Astra and similarly easy to drive. There are two battery options to choose from: a 24kWh that allows a theoretical range between charges of 124 miles, and a 30kWh that extends this to 155 miles. The latter is only available on the more expensive trim levels, though.
8. Toyota Mirai
The Mirai is a hydrogen-fuelled car, which means that you'll need to fill it up with hydrogen at specially chosen filling stations, of which there are currently very few. It's powered by a single 152bhp electric motor and can travel for up to 400 miles between refills. We found it to be quiet and well controlled, but at around £66,000 it's certainly pricey, and with limited volumes coming to the UK it's likely to be a very rare sight.
7. Kia Soul EV
The Soul EV is Kia's first attempt at an electric car, and is actually better to drive than the petrol model. For starters, it feels more eager, thanks to the instant torque from its electric motor. What's more, it's quiet and decent to drive. However, problems include a high price and an interior that feels rather cheap.
6. Tesla Model X
On paper, Tesla's all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.
5. Hyundai Ioniq
The Ioniq is really three cars in one - it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles, and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.
4. Volkswagen e-Golf
Unlike purpose-built electric vehicles such as the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, the e-Golf is based on a conventional hatchback. However, this is no bad thing, because it means it has all the good points of the regular Golf, along with greatly reduced running costs.
3. BMW i3
A smart interior and great handling make the i3 one of the most appealing electric vehicles on sale today, while it's groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor. In addition to the fully electric model, BMW offers a Range Extender model with a two-cylinder petrol engine that can generate extra power for the car's batteries.
2. Tesla Model S
The quiet and comfortable Model S saloon is as capable as it is desirable, offering staggering performance and an impressive range for an electric car. It’s practical, too, with seating for up to seven, while almost all of the car’s controls are accessed via a massive 17in touchscreen that's easy to personalise and updates wirelessly.
1. Renault Zoe
The Zoe’s main strength is that it feels like a conventional, stylish, nippy small car, and just happens to cost pennies to run. The electric motor has enough shove for the Zoe to lead the charge away from traffic lights, and the interior has room for four to sit in reasonable comfort. Even the boot is larger than you’ll find in many regular small cars; it's easily big enough for a family's weekly shopping.
The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which is being introduced by the government, includes electric car charging points being installed at all large filling stations in Britain. This is great news for the EV owner, as many of the UK’s 8,500 garages will have to provide charging facilities on their forecourts. There are some great websites out there to help find vehicle charging points around the UK ie Ecotricity and Zapmap.
Government invests in battery technology
With the ongoing improvements in battery technology the EV’s range is now much less of an issue than ever before. This is being helped by the Governments announcement of a £246 million investment in battery technology which will undoubtedly help towards making the UK a world leader in battery technology.
Government plug-in grant
Car manufacturers and dealerships are being offered government grants to reduce the price you pay for brand new electric and hybrid vehicles. The Government Plug-in Car Grant can help you save as much as £4,500 on a selection of new environmentally friendly electric and plug-in hybrid cars which cost less than £60,000. To qualify, a new car must emit less than 75g/km of CO2 and be able to travel at least 10 miles in silent electric-only mode. Click here for a full list of cars currently eligible for the government plug-in car grant.
Here at Trade Skills 4U we offer the C&G 2919-01 Electric Car / Vehicle Charging Point Installer course, which you can book on-line using our course page, alternatively if you would like to speak to a course adviser please call 01293 529777 or 0800 856448.