The world of motoring is in the middle of a sizeable shift. The internal combustion engine is being gradually retired, and the electric motor is taking its place.
If you’re considering making the switch to an electric car, van, or bike, then you might find life on the road a little bit different, and special considerations have to be made if you want to get the most from the experience.
EVs are renowned for their smooth performance and near-silent operation. The lack of an exhaust system means they are much quieter than traditional cars, as well as providing smoother acceleration and deceleration.
This article provides several top tips for first-time EV drivers.
Let’s jump in!
The cheapest ways to charge
The cheapest way to charge your EV is for free at supermarket chargers if you are lucky enough to have participating supermarkets nearby.
You can identify free chargers with Zapmap (just make sure the charger is operational before heading down).
The next-cheapest charging method is at home, where you can possibly take advantage of an Economy 7 or EV tariff with electricity prices around 10% lower than the standard rate. While some tariffs are being removed from the market due to spiralling energy prices, some remain in 2023.
If you don’t have off-street parking for a home EV charger, consider signing up to a charger sharing app, where you can use someone else’s charger to charge.
The most expensive way to charge is in public at a fast, rapid, or ultra-rapid chargers, with faster charging speeds usually equalling a higher charging price.
Note that in most cases, charging an electric car is cheaper than filling up with petrol or diesel, although your driving habits will play a critical role.
Electric cars are designed with the same safety features as ICE cars, yet insurance quotes for electric vehicles can be higher than their combustion counterparts for first-time drivers.
This is due in large part to the higher cost of electric vehicles from new – comparable ICE models usually have a lower price point, reducing insurer risk.
We recommend using two or three price comparison websites in addition to quoting with direct insurers for quotes. You might also take out some temporary provisional insurance to get you covered, so that you can take your time while learning.
In any case, you should always go for comprehensive insurance.
Eeeking out your vehicle’s range
Range anxiety has been an obstacle for many would-be EV drivers and it turns many people off from making the plunge from petrol and diesel.
Think about how far you’ll need to travel in less-than-ideal circumstances. If you’re called on to take a long drive at short notice, then you’ll want to be confident that you aren’t going to end up stranded or needing to charge in public at high cost.
The outside temperature greatly affects the performance of electric cars. Generally, electric cars perform best in moderate temperatures and can experience reduced range in extremely cold or hot temperatures. You can maximise range in cold temperatures by preheating or preconditioning the battery before driving.
Our article on EV range factors provides more insight.
What are you using it for?
Your life on the road will make a big difference to your decision. For certain kinds of driver, an EV is worthwhile; for others, the case can’t quite be made as convincingly.
Think about whether you’re going to be taking long trips or short ones, and how much time you’re going to have available for charging. These factors should inform your choice of car, as well as any home charging facilities you install.
The range an electric vehicle can travel on a single charge is strongly associated with its battery size, typically measured in kWh. If a vehicle model is available with multiple battery options, such as the Tesla Model 3, those offering larger kWh will often travel substantially further than those with smaller kWh batteries.
Make charging a habit
You’ll need to keep your car topped up. This isn’t something that drivers of traditional gas guzzlers need to worry about, since they can fill up in minutes.
If you’re in an electric car, you’ll need to think about how available your local fast chargers are going to be – and perhaps consider installing a charging point at home for maximum peace of mind.
While you can charge your EV at home using a traditional three-pin plug, the charging rate is very slow – a 3-pin plug charges at 2.3kW, adding up to 8 miles of range per hour, or 4 miles in half an hour in ideal conditions.
We recommend keeping your SoC above 60% but no more than 80%, which will help to preserve the battery life in the long-term.