Guide to Electric Vehicles - Battery Life
If you’re considering an electric vehicle (EV), there is more choice now than ever. As well, the quality of the offerings available is becoming increasingly better while the costs are becoming more competitive.
There are many advantages to an electric vehicle over a traditional combustion engine vehicle. A lack of local emissions, less noise both externally and inside while driving, and financial benefits such as lower rates of motor tax, maintenance, and running costs are positives. Plus, most mainstream EVs feature automatic transmissions, meaning less effort to drive.
Most of the current crop of electric vehicles feature designs that place the battery within the floor of the car. Doing this can help to free up space inside the cabin. As EVs don’t have a larger combustion engine under the bonnet, often there is a second, smaller boot there, which can be used to store smaller items such as the charging cables.
Understandably, for anyone that hasn’t previously owned an EV, there are a lot of questions and specific things to consider before buying one. One of the most common concerns is battery range, i.e. how far the car can travel on a single charge. Worrying that the battery will run out of charge while driving referred to as range anxiety.
In earlier EVs, range anxiety was a more legitimate concern as the batteries had much smaller capacities, weren’t as efficient, and couldn’t cover the same kind of distances that the latest electric cars can nowadays. For example, when the Nissan Leaf first went on sale, it had a claimed maximum driving range of 175km1. Now, just a few years later, cars like the Hyundai Kona Electric offer ranges up to 449km2, while premium cars like the Tesla Model S claim a driving range of up to 610km3.
The driving range is still something that you need to take a serious look at before buying an electric vehicle. But first, accurately calculate how far you drive each day. According to recent data from SD Worx, the average daily commute in the EU is 28.56km.
In addition to your commute, consider trips such as taking children to and from school and other domestic and social journeys. It can help to then add a little extra to your final figure to build in a buffer. This buffer should cover factors like temperature change; During colder winter months you will use the heating more in the car when driving, which consumes energy and drains the battery, and the air conditioning will have a similar affect during summer.
Be mindful that the stated maximum driving range by a manufacturer is just that: the maximum. New models now indicate this figure as WLTP (worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure), which is designed to be a more accurate representation of real-world driving.
Now that you have a more accurate idea of the total daily or weekly driving that you do, it places you in a better position to gauge just how viable an electric vehicle is to your lifestyle and which type may suit you best.
Where to Charge?
Having access to a home charger unit can help create a stress-free EV ownership experience as public or workplace chargers may not always be available to use when needed. Installing a home charger isn’t as easy for those living in rented accommodation, in apartment blocks where there may be shared parking spaces, or with only on-street parking. While these factors may not necessarily prevent you from buying an EV, it is crucial that you consider how you will charge the vehicle at home.
The cost of the charger itself and installation is also something to factor into your purchase. There are a variety of different chargers available, so do your research and find one that is most suitable for your needs. Similarly, numerous professional companies can advise and carry out the installation to guarantee that it is done correctly and safely.
Types of Charger
In general, the type of charger that you likely be installed at home or in a place of work provides either 3.5kW or 7kW of power. The purpose of these is to slowly charge the vehicle during the day or overnight. Many modern EVs also feature timers, meaning that you can plug the car in when you get home, but delay charging until a set time later. This can help take advantage of lower night rates for electricity.
With a typical home charger, it can take anything from five to eight hours to fully charge the average EV, hence why most people do it overnight. But in many instances you may not be fully charging the battery each time. Alternatively, depending on your daily usage, you may only need to charge the car two or three times a week rather than every day.
The amount of public charge points is increasing as are the types in use. Most of the public charge points offer up to 22kW while the rapid chargers can deliver up to 50kW. Newer stations offering even faster charging rates are being rolled out on main motorway routes, capable of delivering charge rates at up to 150kW. This means cars with more powerful onboard chargers can add significant range to the battery in a shorter amount of time. It is best practice to use the rapid chargers to get the battery level up to 80%. Above that it can take longer to add in the final 20%, making it less time efficient to do so. Topping a Nissan Leaf back to 80% with a rapid charger can take about 30 minutes4.
With a little planning and consideration, you can make the most out of your new (or new to you) electric car.
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 or accessory 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 23rd, 2019