Electric Car Efficiency
It has often been asked “Are electric cars really inefficient?” and those with an environmental bias will obviously refute the claim while the “Petrol Heads” lobby group will undoubtedly uncover some facts & figures that support the traditional internal combustion engine over electric powered cars. We think that this is not however a black or white issue and for most real-life situations the truth comes in various shades of grey!
Firstly, let’s just consider the pros and cons of Electric Vehicles or BEVs (battery only electric vehicle) as including hybrid cars into the debate gets even more confusing! BEV’s are propelled by one or more electric motors, powered solely by rechargeable battery packs, and according to a leading authority, the US Governments Source for Fuel Economy Information they convert about 60% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. By contrast vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines (ICE) only convert about 20% of the energy from petrol or diesel to power at the wheels, though diesel engines are slightly more energy efficient than petrol engines. Furthermore, electric cars do not produce any exhaust emissions or pollutants, so at first glance it would seem to be a done deal!
Environmentally when looking at the carbon footprint of electric vehicles we must consider how the power generating plant from where the BEV is recharged produces its electricity. For instance, is it from renewable energy sources; hydro, solar, wind generated power plants or from nuclear or carbon fuel powered generating plants. As most of us realistically have no interest or even any idea where our electricity comes from we can straight away see a very grey looking landscape! The opposing view to this of course is how does your petrol or diesel fuel get from the oil fields to the filling station!
Benefits of Hybrid Cars
Performance benefits of BEV’s include a quiet, smooth operation, stronger acceleration and less maintenance but obvious drawbacks are the limited driving range. For this reason alone, it would seem that Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), which combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor, offer the best of both worlds. Electric & hybrid vehicle owners also may enjoy lower road tax, company car tax and avoid congestion charges in some cities.
Top Electric Cars
We know that the range of BEV’s & PHEV’s has improved dramatically over the last year or so, and will continue to do so in leaps and bounds, so how far can they go on battery power alone? The bench mark is currently set by Tesla whose models can achieve up to 335 miles, but these come with a hefty price tag. General Motors Chevrolet Bolt leads the charge (sorry for the pun!) in the smaller car market with a claimed 238 miles, though unfortunately it is not yet available in Europe. Opel will be rebranding the Bolt as the Ampera-E but in left-hand drive only, and given that this excludes a huge sector of the market from buying this car it is a great shame. It does however set the tone for things to come and at the moment we can buy the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which achieves 124 miles on a full charge. The Nissan Leaf was first produced in 2010 but with upgrades is still one of the best electric cars in 2018 with a range of 107 miles.
Charging times obviously depend upon how big the battery is, but typical charging times for BEV’s using a standard UK home electrical socket is from six to eight hours, though PHEVs usually take less time because they generally have smaller batteries. Most electric cars can also use rapid charging points that can top up the batteries to 80% capacity in around 30 minutes.
Charging Costs for Electric Vehicles
Charging an electric car from fully discharged to fully charged could cost less than £1 depending on your tariff and the capacity of the battery. Therefore, an electric car that covers about 120 miles on a full charge costing a typical £1.80 is just 1.5 pence per mile or about £150 per year for 10,000 miles. By comparison if you drive 10,000 miles per year in a vehicle that does 10 miles per litre (45 MPG) and at a cost of £1.25 per ltr. Your annual fuel cost would be approximately £1250!
What does the future hold for electric vehicles?
Though we can’t predict the future one thing we are sure of here at Brindley is that electric vehicle technology is probably too new to monitor how long the batteries or motors will last, but evidence does show that research companies and manufacturers are are working on improved battery technologies to increase driving range and reduce charging time, weight, and cost. We believe that these factors will ultimately determine the future of BEVs. Electric cars at the moment are more expensive to buy than traditional cars because the high-tech batteries are very expensive, but running costs are much lower than petrol or diesel equivalents and they really come into their own if most of your driving is city commuting over short journeys.
It’s no surprise that the last few years have seen a huge demand for electric vehicles in the UK. New registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 130,000 by the end of December 2017 with many of the top manufacturers in the UK now offering a number of electric & hybrid cars as part of their model range. Figures from the SMMT, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, say that sales of alternatively fuelled cars made up 4.7% of total sales in 2017, an increase of 34.8%.
For more information regarding electric & plug in hybrid electric vehicles or to Find out where Brindley Dealerships in the West Midlands are located simply complete the Online Enquiry Form and a member of our team will soon be in touch.