EV Myths: busted
The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads is growing fast. In March 2020, there were 273,500 EVs on UK roads (including hybrid and electric-only). Further stats show that 5.7% of new car registrations are electric vehicles, with 3.2% electric-only.
However, we have a way to go to meet the government’s targets: 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030. This target is in line with the government’s strategy for cutting C02 emissions and tackling climate change.
When it comes to meeting international climate and carbon targets, we all have a part to play – especially businesses. For brands committed to fulfilling their environmental responsibilities, the course of the next year is the perfect time to explore the EV opportunity.
The Government offers several initiatives to encourage corporate uptake of EVs. Currently, employees are exempt from Benefit in Kind tax for fully electric company cars. All new EVs are subsidised, providing customers with a discount of up to £3,000. And, all businesses and household can receive a grant of up to £350 for every EV charge point they install.
While most charging takes place at home, around 30% of people charge their EV at work. As uptake in electric cars increases, businesses will find themselves under pressure to provide more charge points for employees. These government initiatives won’t last forever: the EV charge point grant has already reduced from £500 to £350. Futureproofing for the EV revolution now allows businesses to do so at the most affordable opportunity.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths about commercial electric vehicles.
To set the record straight, we asked Andrew Verney – our EV charging consultant – to help us bust some common misconceptions about electric vehicles. Andrew has driven an electric vehicle for the last five years and is our trusted advisor on all EV installations.
EV range is not good enough for commercial use
When EVs were first developed, the limited battery capacity meant they were unsuitable for long journeys.
Now, most new EVs have a range of at least 150 miles between charges. Some, as much as 200-300 miles. Most car journeys are, of course, much shorter than this. According to the RAC Foundation, the average commute is just 10 miles in England and Wales.
Even for customers that regularly make longer journeys, a range of 150-200 miles should be enough, as the AA recommends all drivers stop for a 15-minute break every 2-3 hours. If you’re stopping anyway, you might as well charge your car for 30 minutes.
EV drivers do currently have to plan their routes more carefully than other car-owners. Not all service stations have facilities to charge EV vehicles yet – but this will change soon!
EVs are much more expensive
It is more expensive to buy a new EV: about 20% more than an equivalent fuel vehicle. But, new EVs are subsidised by the government to make them more affordable.
However, running an EV is around six times cheaper than a fuel car. While petrol or diesel costs around 12 pence per mile, you can charge your car overnight at home for two pence per mile. Most energy providers offer tariffs that give EV owners a good window to charge cheaply at night. Some public spaces even offer free EV charging.
Maintaining and servicing an electric car is also much cheaper. They only have about 5% of the same moving parts as a fuel car, so there’s simply less to maintain.
EVs take a long time to charge up
In most cases, charging an EV is something that takes place in the background. Unlike fuelling a car, you rarely go somewhere specifically to charge an electric vehicle. There are a range of different charging options, some of which take longer than others. However, the charging option (and speed) always suits charge point location.
The most popular option is home charging, usually overnight to make the most of cheaper energy tariffs. This is the cheapest option, but also the slowest: they charge at around 10-30mph. However, this slow speed is irrelevant, as you’d be at home with your vehicle anyway.
The quickest are ‘rapid’ chargers. These are usually located at service stations and ‘traditional fuelling stations. Operating at 50 kw+, these charge at a rate of 180mph or more.
Then there are ‘destination’ chargers. These are slower, but they are usually located in a place you might stay for a while. Again, the charging takes place in the background. For example, a supermarket or shopping centre. These 7-22kw chargers work at about 30-90mph. Businesses typically choose ‘rapid’ or ‘destination’ chargers.
EV charge technology is constantly advancing. Some ‘ultra-rapid’ public chargers are being installed in the UK that will provide 180 miles of charge in ten minutes.
There are not enough EV charge points
As previously mentioned, not all service stations feature EV charge points. As interest in EVs rises, public charge infrastructure will scale accordingly. While there are enough, more would be appreciated.
Most EVs come with Sat Nav to find charge points, but these systems are not wholly accurate. The directory is not exhaustive and cannot inform you if an EV charge point is out of order. This means many EV drivers rely on a mobile app to plot routes around EV chargers.
A flat battery is the biggest fear about EVs. However, it is just not that common. On all the major trunk roads, you’re never more than 50 miles away from an EV charge point. Plus, every EV comes with a cable that can be plugged in to charge at a normal 13-amp house socket. In an emergency, you can technically charge at any building – provided the cable reaches. Take a look at Zap-Map to see over 30,000 public charging sockets across the UK.
EVs are unsuitable for a commercial fleet
Currently, there’s not much choice for electric vans and trucks. A wider range of options will emerge in the next year.
Infrastructure changes are also required. Employees who take a company van home would need to charge the EV at their property. With at least 20% of the population lacking off-street parking, this poses a potential challenge. Employers would also need to reimburse employees for charging their EV from their home energy supply.
For travelling tradespeople, there’s also the issue of charging at their destination (where necessary). There’s currently not a lot of on-street public charge points available, although this will increase shortly. RenEnergy is working to fit EV charge points into Council car parks, where they can be used overnight by local residents who don’t have access to a personal charge point.
For now, EVs are more suitable for ‘last-mile delivery’. Many delivery drivers travel less than 100 miles per day and often return their vehicles to a depot overnight: perfect for EV charging. EVs are also more efficient for journeys that require a lot of stop-starting (such as deliveries): an electric engine completely stops when it is not in use. This means no idling and much less pollution.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is already embracing the potential of EVs. They have the largest electric fleet in the country: 21% of their fleet is fully electric.
EVs are unsuitable for commuters
Again, this is untrue. Unless your commute is over 50 miles each way, you should be able to comfortably commute on a fully charged EV battery.
More businesses are installing on-site EV chargers to meet employee demand – especially large companies. Remember, businesses can also receive the £350 grant for each EV charge point they install.
One thing that companies will need to negotiate is how they bill staff for the electricity to charge their vehicles. We expect that most businesses will charge employees through an app or card, just to cover the energy costs and maintaining charge points. Some employers are offering free electricity to staff, and RenEnergy is working to install EV charging in solar carports, to help provide the renewable electricity required.
EVs are unpleasant to drive
Personally, I disagree. They’re much smoother and easier to drive.
They’re also much smarter than a normal car. On a cold winter’s morning, you can warm your car via an app on your phone, before you’ve even got out of bed. And when you’re in your house at night, you can check your app to ensure your car is plugged in and charging.
This level of communication is beneficial if you have solar panels. If your home array is generating a surplus of energy that would otherwise go back to the grid, you can choose to use this energy to charge your car. If not, the system knows to charge the car only using the cheap overnight grid energy.
After five years, I’m a true EV convert: I can’t imagine going back to a ‘normal’ car now.