Moving from a petrol or diesel car to an electric vehicle (EV) isn’t quite as simple as just purchasing one.
We asked Matthew Gibbons, managing director of Plug&Drive, a UK manufacturer and installer of electric vehicle charge points about the four key considerations for families planning on switching to an EV.
EV batteries provide a certain mileage range before requiring recharging, so it’s important to have a rough idea of your regular driving patterns. Consider:
Commonly, EV owners will have a charge point installed at their homes. This is often the best solution as the vehicle can easily be charged at any time of the day. If your home is not suited for a charge point, you can instead purchase a charging cable that plugs directly into the mains, assuming you can safely run it outside to your vehicle.
An alternative to charging at home is to use publicly accessible charge points, most commonly found at petrol stations and public car parks. If you plan to charge in this way, use a tool such as Zap-Map to determine if there are charge points available in the areas you frequent the most. A key thing to consider here is that even with a rapid charge point, you’ll likely need to wait around 40 minutes to an hour for an 80% charge. This can be less than ideal if you have children with you who may become restless from waiting.
EVs come in a variety of models from a range of manufacturers, so there is likely something on the market to suit your family’s requirements. Consider whether you need a minimum number of seats, or a spacious boot if you regularly take a pushchair out with you.
EVs often have modernised safety features which may be a priority for families, such as:
Take your time to research the options available and visit dealerships to get a better feel for the vehicle and its features. It can also be beneficial to test drive your desired model before purchasing, as EVs drive slightly differently from petrol and diesel vehicles. Without a gearbox or clutch, they are most similar to cars with an automatic transmission, however, they tend to have swifter acceleration and differences with braking. EVs are also relatively silent to drive, which, although beneficial with sleeping children in the car, can take some getting used to.
EVs tend to be more expensive than a petrol or diesel vehicle at the initial point of purchase, and you may find that they are slightly more expensive to insure. However, this is offset by a lower lifetime cost, as fuelling is cheaper and you do not pay road tax or congestion charges. EVs also have fewer moving parts, meaning they’re less likely to go wrong and require costly fixes.
Before buying an EV, get a quote for insurance to have an idea of what you can expect to be paying. Also, consider whether you will be purchasing the EV outright, or if you need to organise a method of financing. There are government grants available to assist you when buying an EV and installing a home charge point, so be sure to check if you’re eligible for either of these when determining cost.
An EV can be an ideal family car, so long as you take proper consideration before making the switch.