Choosing the Electric Vehicle that's Right for You
With more choice in the market than ever, there are some important things to take into consideration before purchasing an electric vehicle (EV).
Costs and savings
The initial purchase price of a new electric vehicle (EV) remains higher in most cases than its combustion engine equivalent. As battery technology and production methods improve, this cost will likey come down; In the meantime, there are financial incentives in the form of government grants and subsidies to help make EVs more affordable.
With the purchase of a new full electric (BEV) car, there is €10,000 subsidy comprising of a €5,000 VRT rebate and a €5,000 SEAI grant. Check to see if the price that a manufacturer advertises is the net price after these subsidies have been taken into account. The VRT rebate for BEVs has been confirmed up until the end of 2021. PHEVs receive a lower level of support totaling €2,500 VRT rebate, and this is in place until the end of 2019. There is no confirmation yet as to how grants and subsidies for new EVs will continue beyond these deadlines.
- Domestic Charging
There is an additional grant available to domestic users of up to €600 towards the purchase and installation of a home charger unit through the SEAI. While higher powered home chargers can be more expensive, in the majority of cases the grant will cover most or all of the cost of purchase and installation. However, this scheme is limited to private owners and the EV charge point must be on an off-street location such as a driveway or garage.
The installation must be carried out by a qualified electrician who is registered with Safe Electric Ireland. Once the work is carried out, a payment request form along with the other necessary paperwork must be submitted prior to the grant amount being paid out.
Typically this work will also include a switch to a domestic night rate with the electricity supplier. Doing so will reduce the cost of charging the car overnight. Depending on the EV’s battery size and state of charge, the cost of a full charge on a domestic bill can range from €3 to €6. This should provide a driving range of between 250-480 kilometres. In comparison to the same driving range in a combustion engine car, the savings are significant. PHEVs have a much smaller battery and generally only require 2- 4 hours to fully charge.
- Public Charging
At present, there is generally no cost for using the public charging network, but some local councils do require that parking is paid for while in use. It is expected that from mid-2019 the ESB will begin to charge for using the public network, starting with the higher powered rapid chargers and then expanding to the more widespread on-street charge points from mid-2020.
Other companies have already entered this part of the market, including IONITY. It is building a network of 150kW chargers along major routes. These can charge the latest high capacity batteries in a much shorter time at a fixed cost of €8 per session currently, regardless of how much electricity is used.
- Additional savings
Another saving EVs benefit from is the lowest rate of motor tax, which at present is €120 per annum. Most PHEVs fall into the second lowest rate, which is €170 per annum. As of July 2018, BEVs and PHEVs qualify for 50% and 25% toll reductions respectively, up to an annual threshold of €500 for private vehicles. For business users, BEVs qualify for a 0% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) rate on cars up to a value of €50,000 without mileage conditions. This policy is in place until 2021. It is also worth noting that BEVs generally do not require as much maintenance due to the nature of their design. There are fewer moving parts and fewer consumables, such as engine oil, but they do still require scheduled maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Does Maintenance Differ?
While there are fewer moving parts in an electric vehicle, they aren’t entirely maintenance-free. It can be a good idea to have at least one maintenance visit per year to check over the general health and safety of the car. With no combustion engine, there are not as many serviceable items in comparison to a regular vehicle that would require engine oil and filters to be changed. Suspension and tyres, for example, still incur similar levels of wear and brake fluids do need to be checked and replaced at set intervals.
Modern EVs utilise a feature called regenerative braking. When you lift off the throttle pedal the car’s electric motor is reversed, slowing the vehicle down while also harvesting energy that it can feed back into the battery system. This process also happens when braking. Increasingly, this type of technology has become more advanced, leading to what many EV owners call ‘one pedal driving’. The car can often slow sufficiently in normal driving by lifting off the throttle pedal, resulting in less use of the brakes, thus increasing the service life of some parts.
Which Car to Choose?
Right now there is an ever-increasing choice of electric vehicle models becoming available from a growing number of car brands. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes so you shouldn’t find your choice too limited.
In some cases, manufacturers will offer the same model with a choice of battery sizes, and these are measured as kWh. The higher the number, the larger the battery (which takes up more space) and the greater the driving range, but this will also usually mean a higher price too. Having an accurate idea of your usage requirements is important in this instance. You may not need the largest battery size if your average daily or weekly drive doesn’t cover a great distance. Alternatively, you may prefer to have the additional driving range offered.
Go New or Buy Used?
While the number of new electric vehicles continue to increase in volume and choice, so too does the variety of models in the used market. Choosing a used model can also save you a good deal of money compared with the purchase price of a new car.
One thing to be aware of is that the condition of the battery will degrade over time depending on use and frequency of charges. It isn’t something to be that alarmed about as the majority of modern EVs are designed to cope with this, but it is important to understand that a 3-5 year old EV is unlikely to have the same performance as a brand new model. Most retailers can provide a used EV with a battery health check report that will show the current state of the battery. Additionally, retailers will often offer some limited warranty when purchasing a used vehicle.
When you have a shortlist of potential cars narrowed down, go and take some test drives. As mentioned earlier, there are some differences in driving an electric vehicle in comparison to a traditional combustion engine car. Saving a substantial amount of money on weekly fuel and running costs, as well as lower maintenance expenses, are big plusses. The behaviour of EVs when driving also differs from that of combustion engine vehicles. Being electric means that you get all of the car’s power instantly, so they can seem nippier in traffic but also run much quieter than regular petrol or diesel engines.
Research is Key
It’s always recommended that you do some proper research before buying a new car and this is especially true when considering an electric vehicle, as they may be less familiar to the average person. Yes, there are some more factors to consider like getting a home charger installed, but these will mostly apply to the first time you switch to an EV. After that, it’s mainly about choosing a shortlist of cars that pique your interest and see which ones will best suit your budget and needs.
As you can see, there are some factors that you will need to consider, but don’t let these things deter you, as the long-term benefits can be excellent. And with an increasing number of brands offering a choice of models, all of which offer very usable driving ranges, not to mention the prospect of significantly reduced running costs, making the switch to an EV is no longer a daunting prospect. There’s never been a better time to consider an electric vehicle.
This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance. Allianz are not affiliated with any Electric Vehicle manufacturers.
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About the author:Motoring journalist on 2 & 4 wheels. Road Test Editor @CompleteCar, Editor @50to70 & @EngineRoomShow. Writer for @CE_editorial & more. AUTOBEST Jury member
Date:July 02nd, 2019