Guide to Electric Cars

Electric Car Guide

Our basic guide to Electric Cars. All the different types of electric cars have one thing in common, they have an electric motor which drives the car forward. Some are 100% electric, relying on batteries for power, others have a combination of electric motors and a combustion engine (petrol/diesel).

100% Electric

These cars rely 100% on electricity and only have electric motors, powered by batteries. The batteries are charged by a regenerative braking system, kinetic energy and by plugging the car into an electricity supply, depending upon the charger the recharging can take from a few minutes for a top up, to 24 hours for a full charge. They normally have a medium operating range (70 to 150 miles) and some like the Tesla models have ranges over 300 miles.

Pros

  • There are no gears in an electric car, so they are very simple to drive.
  • They are ultra-low emission cars so attract the best possible tax incentives.
  • They are cheap to run, recharging costing a few pounds a fraction of the cost of traditional fuels.

Cons

  • They are 100% reliant on battery power, if you run out of charge you can’t go anywhere! Like your smartphone, your battery life is now an important part of your life.
  • Home charging is a problem for those without a garage or a drive.
  • Although growing quickly the charging network is still limited.

Popular 100% Electric Cars

Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, e-Golf

Range Extended Electric

These cars are driven by an electric motor powered by a battery which is charged by a regenerative braking system and a small combustion engine. When the battery requires it the engine will re-charge it on the move. Depending upon the model the range can be increased 100%.

Pros

  • Attract tax breaks and congestion charges.
  • Good for short journeys (school runs/shopping)
  • Boosts range of electric cars, a good combined solution.

Cons

  • Not a pure electric solution
  • Not many available

Popular range extended electric cars

BMW i3

Hybrid

The most common type of EV they are a combustion driven car with an added electric motor. The electric motor is used for small distances (20 to 40 miles) and an extra boost when accelerating. The battery that powers the electric motor is charged when the vehicle is moving using kinetic energy and/or a brake regeneration system.

Pros

  • Like any other car so easy to drive and get used to.
  • Attracts tax benefits and avoids some congestion charges.
  • Uses electric motor for short journeys, e.g. school runs

Cons

  • Normally based on a car designed for a combustion engine which doesn’t maximise efficiency like a pure EV
  • Added weight of two motors can be less fuel efficient
  • Electric range normally very small
  • Cannot plug in to recharge therefore can be difficult to keep charged if only short drives are the norm

Popular Hybrid Cars

Mercedes C and E class, all Lexus models, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Prius

Plug In Hybrid (PHEV)

These cars are becoming more popular as technology improves, in principle they are the same as a hybrid car but with the added benefit of being able to plug in to a charger to re-charge the battery.

Popular PHEV Cars

Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota Prius Plug In, VW Golf GTE, Volvo XC60 Twin Engine, Mini Countryman S E, BMW 330E

Fuel Cell

Probably the most complicated and difficult to develop electric car, this technology involves Hydrogen being converted into electrical energy, heat and water (the only emission). The electricity charges the battery which drives the electric motor. The car is ‘filled up’ using specialist hydrogen pumps which keep it in a pressurised liquid state and into the pressured tank in the car. Obviously, hydrogen is highly flammable and needs careful management.

Pros

  • The long range (300 miles) of an equivalent combustion engine vehicle
  • Water is the only emission

Cons

  • Lack of refilling infrastructure
  • Very expensive to produce
  • Production of hydrogen is through fossil fuels (natural gas), some argue this is ‘less green’ than battery driven EVs

Popular Fuel Cell Cars

There are currently only two in the market, which can only be leased, Toyota Mirai and Hyundai ix 35 fuel cell. Do you lease one? please contact us, we would love to add your car to our Reviews and include your expert opinion.

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