To give you an honest, realistic assessment of electric vehicles, we thought we'd ask someone that actually owns one and uses it on a daily basis. LV='s very own Motor underwriter, Murad, shares his views...
Why did you buy your electric car?
For me, it was mostly about convenience and cost saving. As I can charge at home, it’s a lot easier for me to keep topped up. I also got myself onto an 'EV Time of Use Tariff' for my electricity, which gives me four hours of super cheap electricity, so it’s much cheaper for me to charge the car in the off-peak period overnight.
With my car, I can fully charge it from 0% in two nights but I normally keep it above 50%. Another big bonus for me is pre-conditioning, that’s where the car warms up or cools down in advance. Cold winter mornings are a lot more bearable when getting into a warm car! It also means in summer I don’t have to risk leaving the windows open to cool the car. I can do this on a set schedule or as and when needed from my phone.
It was also to tied in with wanting a more cost effective and sustainable house, we’d already invested in solar panels and a home battery system. Once the car came along I moved to a green supplier with an EV tariff, so all our electricity use is 100% renewable now.
What electric car do you have and why did you choose it?
I have a Peugeot e2008 GT Premium, I went for this one as I love the looks of it! The exterior with the LED lights and two tone with a black roof gives it a bit of an aggressive stance which I love. I especially love the interior, even if they’re a bit controversial! They designed the steering wheel as a smaller one that you’re meant to look over, rather than through. It takes a little getting used to but I find it much nicer than a normal sized steering wheel. It also makes it feel a little like a go kart!
Do you think working as an Electric Vehicle Underwriter made you want to get an electric car?
As an Underwriter, I have a keen interest in cars and as things have moved on and we’re looking more and more at an electrified world, I have gotten more into that realm. I had to do a lot of research in to EV, from battery size and charging speed to the weight and how repairable they are. I will say the additional insight I get through my job certainly accelerated my plans to move to EV. Seeing the leaps in technology and range from a different side made the decision easier!
It also fitted well with all we’re doing in terms of looking at sustainability and carbon footprints. So by going green with my house and car I’m doing my bit to help us reach our carbon reduction goals. We also have a great insurance product for EVs, which is backed up by a brilliant repair network. We have a Green Heart Standard which all our repair network is getting accredited in. From offering EV hire cars to using green parts, which use significantly resources than new, including raw materials, power and emissions. It also supports apprenticeships to get more young technicians in to the industry and importantly trained and qualified in high voltage battery systems. Meaning our network can lead the way in EV repair.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to buy an electric car?
The choice for EVs now is much greater than even two to three years ago. Do some research on the models available and your budget. The next thing to think about is how you use it. I opted for looks over range, but I can happily do my normal weekly travel on one full charge. On the odd occasion I need to do longer journeys I just plan in a little extra time to charge en route. If it can do the majority of your journeys and you can charge at home the chances are over time you’ll gain time back.
In terms of public charging you can get apps that can help with accessing chargers, some of which give you better rates than pay as you go with a contactless card. Some do need a subscription so it’s important to work out if you’ll be charging enough to offset the cost. It’s also worth while doing a bit of a health check on your home utility usage. A big benefit you can get charging at home is an EV tariff, usually these offer a few hours of cheap electricity in the night and a flat rate for the rest of the day. It’s important to work out if the miles you’ll do charging at the cheap rate will give the savings to offset the house usage the rest of the time.
Overall a general change in mindset is all that’s needed. I used to brim the tank before a journey and drive as long as I could, spending a lot of time uncomfortable and hungry!
Now I pre-plan and factor in pit stops to top up the juice, nip to the loo and grab a snack.
What do you use your electric car for?
Everything! I use it to get to the gym, commuting to and travelling for work, socialising with friends and family. I have a sister that lives about 90 miles away and go there a few times a year.
My car is reasonably practical, good enough boot for the odd tip run, chuck a roof rack on and take my bicycle out to nice places for ride.
Where do you charge your electric car?
Most of the time I charge at home. As I have solar at home having solar integration was key for me, so I can charge for free during the long sunny days! There weren’t many chargers that worked with solar when I was looking, I wanted good looks, good features and solar integration. In the end I opted for a Hypervolt V2 tethered home charger and as it ticked all the boxes I needed. Plus the child in me really likes the funky light shows it can put on!
Occasionally if I have to travel for work or go visiting family elsewhere in the country I use the public charging network. I have a few different apps that allow me to get easy access to a number of networks, some at a discount.
What do you think the pros and cons are of owning an EV?
For me a big pro is pre-conditioning. The fact I can get in to a warm car at 5.30am in the dead of winter or a cool car in the middle of the afternoon on a scorching summer day is bliss! I can set mine by schedule for all my regular trips or do it whenever I need from the app on my phone. Another big pro for me is home charging, it’s so much more convenient than having to go to a petrol station, I cut it close a few times because I was too tired to go out of my way after work on a particular day.
Another plus is it allowed me to get an EV tariff for my electricity, which together with my solar panels and home batteries means big savings on utilities and fuel! I fill up for very cheap or free for the vast majority of my use. Even though most if not every modern car is pretty refined these days, you don’t tend to notice things like the noise or vibration from the engine… that is till you drive without one! I finish even long journeys feeling less tired, stressed and headachy. Small things like not needing the music or pod casts on as loud really helps with that, and it’s down to having the electric motors instead of a clattering combustion engine.
There are lot of electric vehicle myths, what do you think are the most common ones and are any of them true?
Yes most if not all EVs won’t do the mileage that a petrol or diesel will do in one full tank, and you have to take the WLTP range figures with a pinch of salt. But that’s the exact same as an ICE car, those figures are based on ideal conditions. It’s also because the starting size of “fuel” is smaller in an EV. In fact a lot of EV’s are comparable in terms of their efficiency as an ICE.
Taking the running efficiency out of the equation (the MPG or Mi/kWh) electric motors are far more efficient than an ICE anyway, a lot of the potential energy in fossil fuels gets wasted in the combustion, getting turned in to heat rather than movement. Petrol cars are only about 30% efficient compared to EVs which are around 80%, so for every £1 you spend on petrol only 30p of that goes in to moving you forwards as opposed to 80p in the EV.
It’s more difficult or time consuming
Depending on your situation this isn’t the case. If you charge at home your overall time savings will outweigh the periods waiting on journeys. I plug in every few days when I get home which takes 30 seconds, after day-to-day time savings the odd stop for a charge on a long journey doesn’t bother me. Besides, I like to stop for a snack fairly frequently anyway so might as well juice up the car whilst I do!
Battery life is poor
This isn’t talking about the range but the health of a battery over time. We’ve all experienced it with our phones, a full charge doesn’t last as long as it used to when it was brand new. Now it’s true batteries do degrade over time in your phone or your car, the good news is, it’s not as bad for cars (as it can be for phones). Because of the physical size of them there’s more area to distribute the heat that builds up and include active thermal management. That’s when the car will cool or warm the battery to keep it at an optimal temp whilst charging. You can’t do that in a phone which is why they suffer so badly with it.
This is all handled by the cars battery management system or BMS, this is designed to keep your battery in tip top condition for as long as possible. It keep the right temp and alters the speed the car receives a charge when using a rapid or ultra-rapid charger.
Another thing to keep your mind at ease is all manufacturers offer a separate warranty on the battery. These are usually for a time period and mileage, e.g. 8 years/100k miles for 70%. So if the total usable capacity drops below 70% in under 8 years or 100k miles, whichever comes first, they’ll replace it. Also at the “end of it’s life” as a battery for a car, a lot are recycled or re-used, there’s a charging hub that uses old Renault Zoe batteries and solar to power the chargers!