EV Sales Rocket
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), new battery electric vehicle (BEVs without combustion engines) sales accounted for a whopping 25.5% of market share in 2021. Year on year sales grew by 26.4% on 2020, even as pure diesel car sales plummeted by 67.1% and accounted for 4.5% of all new cars sold.
As is to be expected, used cars sales are just kicking off where it comes to EVs. SMMT data for 2021 showed that used BEV sales grew by 119.1% to 40,228, far behind that of petrol (10.7% growth to 4.23 million) and diesel (9.8% growth to 3.046 million). As more 2020 and 21 models come on the market, so BEV sales are set to continue to head north, while we may well see ICE car sales head south in the same way as they have new recently.
However not all EVs are equal. Some are more efficient than others, while some are full of gadgets and others less so. Lets look at seven essential elements to think about when it comes to a new or used EV.
7 Essential Elements to Consider in Buying a New or Used EV
EVs are very different to fossil fuelled cars. One classic example is that the faster you go, the less efficient it is. While this will make roads safer even without driving aids in the coming years, it is also a hint of how different an EV is to drive. Lets look at key points
- The reality of range
- A brief look at efficiency
- A brief look at battery degradation
- Used vs new
- Can you charge it at home or at work?
This is somewhat different to your thoughts in buying an ICE car! Yes, you will look at things like boot space and driver comforts too, but the issues above are peculiar to this new world you are entering.
The Reality of Range
No matter what the Clarksons of this world say, in reality you’ll rarely drive more than 20 miles a day on most days. The idea that anyone needs to regularly and suddenly drive from Kent to Aberdeen without stopping is actually a bit of a joke among EV drivers! You will need to pee, drink coffee and eat on such a journey – why not top your car up while you’re at it? In cars even a few years old today, you’ll get enough charge to get to your next caffeine and bladder stop in roughly the same time as it takes for a stop like that!
For those who do a lot of long distance/motorway driving it is worth spending a few quid on a decent EV with ‘long legs’. In ICE car terms if you were doing that you’d go for an Audi not a Ford Fiesta, and the same applies for EVs – in this case, an Audi or Tesla with a 300+ mile range over an MG with a 150 mile range.
The fact is, most EVs will do 130+ miles per charge. In typical driving that could mean you plug your car in once a week.
A Brief Look at Efficiency
EV efficiency is measured at Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi). Typically EVs on the market today do around 300-350Wh/mi with the standard Tesla Model 3 doing 245Wh/mi at one end of the scale and the Audi eTron S55 managing a paltry 422Wh/mi at the other.
From April 2022 standard rate capped home electricity will be 30p/kWh. A Tesla Model 3 would cost 7.5p per mile, a ‘random typical’ EV would cost about 9p a mile and the Audi above, almost 13p per mile. With petrol prices hitting 160p a litre at the time of writing, a car doing 40 miles per gallon would achieve 18p per mile. The typical EV will still be half the cost per mile of petrol!
As we will see later, all sorts of things can affect efficiency – read on to find out more about that.
One major selling point of Teslas is that most of them will give you whiplash when you accelerate to 60 in a shade over three seconds! That is is fairly standard fare when it comes to EVs over ICE cars. This is because they deliver their torque instantly while ICE engines deliver maximum power at higher revolutions.
A Nissan will still get to 60 in 7.9 seconds, which will still embarass your young man in a souped up Fiesta with a sports exhaust! EVs are fun to drive, and that is something you will have to get used to. How often you will need to give your passengers neck pain is down to you!
A Brief Look at Battery Degradation
An ICE car will be about ready for the scrapyard at about 150,000 miles, a sad fact of life with car makers who want to sell more new cars. For all the hullaballoo about EVs, batteries will need to be replaced at almost the same time. Generally speaking an EV battery will have fallen to 80% of its efficiency at around 100,000-125,000 miles. As battery chemistry and technology improves, so in time they will last longer in newer cars.
On a bigger Tesla with an 80+kWh battery if you’re doing your 20 miles a day that won’t matter so much, but on your Nissan Leaf with a 45kWh battery this could be an issue. As with ICEs, not everyone buys a car with 100k on the clock as other things will have gone wrong!
Used vs New
New cars will sell for what the makers want to sell them for, while the used car market will sell a car for what people will pay. In China, used Teslas are selling for more than new right now! Your budget will play a part in what you are buying as well as your ethics. EVs can be kinder to the planet, and cheaper to run. Ultimately a used EV may save you more money than a used ICE car, particularly if it is half the price per mile of fuelling!
As indicated above, battery performance will degrade and there will be issues with gadgets giving up. Manufacturers warranties are another problem too. There are very good used EVs out there that have had one owner, especially from those whose first owners feel the need to have the latest numberplate every year.
Home or Work Charging?
As we showed above, even if you don’t get a special EV home energy tariff, charging at home can be significantly cheaper than at a forecourt. Before the price cap increase, forecourts were charging as much as 45p/kWh for DC fast chargers, which is a similar price to a petrol car doing 50mpg.
Many workplaces offer EV charging as a perk. If you are one of the 17 million households in the UK without off street parking, then this may be an option. The 17 million households are a big issue and one being considered by many councils and city planners at present – watch this space!
Charging infrastructure is developing all the time with roll out of charging points and charging networks representing something of a gold rush with Gridserve, Podpoint, BP Pulse and ESB Energy leading the way. Each has its own charges, payment methods and apps needed to access so expect consolidation over time.
Gadgets are the sexy things. Yoke steering wheels, Full Self Driving subscriptions, and Tesla’s Emissions Testing Mode can keep the kids laughing on a long drive. One key thing to consider is that instead of air conditioning you should consider heated seats as an option over blown air condtioning as these are more efficient than air con – they consume less battery. Obviously, the more you spend with an EV, the more gadgets you’ll get!
We touched on efficiency earlier, and that an EV can still be 50% the cost per mile in terms of fuel over an ICE vehicle. Also as we said earlier, the way that they operate is different. In this section we will take a deeper dive.
Though things may change in the future, now EVs only have one gear. Generally speaking the motor goes through a ‘step-down’ gearbox to reduce the revolutions for the wheel but is otherwise connected directly to the wheel with no neutral as with an ICE gearbox. At the same time, regenerative braking means you can get as much as 15% of battery energy back by ‘one-foot driving’ where the car claws back energy when you coast.
Positives on ICEs Vs EVs
- You get similar mpg at 50mph as you can at 30mph
- On hilly routes you will see similar efficiency to flat
- Motorway driving and country driving will see similar efficiency
- These are due to the gearbox that keeps the car at similar revs uphill, downhill and at different speeds. EVs aren’t like that:
• The faster you go the faster you will chew through electrons
• Hilly routes take a lot more energy than flat
• Country driving on an A-road will give you more regenerative braking than motorways
• Weather – cold in particular but also wet and windy conditions – will impact range too.
Cold is a particular issue with cold batteries having terrible efficiency, even if pre-warmed in a garage while on the charger. Expect to lose 30% or more of range on a subzero day in winter over that of a hot summer’s day. Linked to headwinds, if you buy a brick shaped tank like the American GM Hummer, aerodynamic inefficiency will lead to considerably more Wh per mile! With these in mind, you will see that a smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic car will get more ‘electron mileage’ than a heavy brick! The Mercedes EQXX concept is a classic example of where ultra-efficient EVs could end up in terms of looks and gadgets.
Weight is another issue but this impacts all EVs thanks to batteries. This is one of the reasons why they are so thirsty on hills, and manufacturers are looking at weight savings to improve Wh/mi.
Choose a Green Tariff!
The ultimate reason to go electric is to be kinder to the planet. This is whya ‘green’ tariff makes most sense otherwise youll just be transferring where fossil fuels are burned from the roadside to the electricity plant. As we know, the price of energy is led by fossil fuel costs – mostly gas these days, but the cost of producing wind and solar is generally falling as solar arrays and wind farms come on stream. Without getting too political, the more of us that choose a genuinely green tariff, the less we need gas as part of the mix. Wouldn’t it be nice to get geopolitics out of the cost of fuelling our transport and homes?
We look at the ins and outs of of choosing the right green tariff as not all are the same. While some like Octopus have their own wind and solar farms, others like Npower buy credits called REGOs that do nothing to invest in renewable energy.
As a start, look for special EV tariffs as you could end up charging your car for a lot less than 9p a mile even as energy prices go through the roof!
Points to Consider
Buying an EV is a step into a completely different world of car ownership. With all the rewards of ownership, it does involve a lot of new things to consider:
- 2022 is the year EVs have gone mainstream. Diesel and petrol car sales, particularly for new vehicles, are in terminal decline.
- EVs are far cheaper to run, even if their list price is higher
- A used EV may be more cost efficient as the manufacturer’s markup won’t be part of the cost
- Battery degradation and range anxiety are something that belong to the 2010s, not the 2020s
- Try to charge at home or work if possible as it is much cheaper than a forecourt charger
- EVs are less efficient in certain conditions thanks to their drivetrain, but for most driving have all the range you need
- Particularly if you choose a green tariff, the vehicle will be kinder to the planet than an ICE car
With these points in mind, we hope EVs aren’t so scary! In a few years time, it will be an everyday thing and getting into an ICE car with its fiddly gearstick will be an anachronism that you may remember fondly – but one firmly in the past.