Considering an electric vehicle? Do your homework first

By: Motor Easy

We recently asked our members who have already switched to an Electric Vehicle (EV), to share their experiences and impart their EV wisdom to help the next generation of adopters.

Switching is not a smooth road

Sales of used battery electric cars almost doubled last year, with a record 119,000 of the vehicles changing hands. However, MotorEasy members have told us they are still struggling with the cost of charging, access to public charging and the apps used to facilitate charging are damaging the ownership electric vehicle (EV) experience.

Charging challenges

Over half of survey respondents are frustrated by battery range and one in four said energy costs for recharging are a worry. However, the biggest issue raised is access to public charging (73%) and the practicalities of using these chargers (71%), including the multitude of apps supposedly designed to make charging easier (65%). The rapid and much-publicised depreciation of used EVs has also left 65% of owners worried about the loss of value in their EV.

Ask Mr Bean

Unexpected suggestion, maybe, but a serious point to follow. Self-confessed “car person” Rowan Atkinson, who was an early adopter and says he loves electric vehicles, recently criticised the use of lithium-ion batteries in EVs and was quoted saying other alternatives such as synthetic fuels would be better long-term solutions. Running an EV does offer significant environmental benefits when compared to petrol or diesel vehicles, but it is worth considering the impact of sourcing materials to build EVs, and weighing up whether it is more sustainable to keep your existing vehicle for longer before making the switch.

Smoothing the speedbumps ahead

Although the number of EVs on UK roads is accelerating, the accessibility of EV charging is slowing potential growth of the EV parc. To mitigate the challenges, EV owners advised those considering the switch to prioritise the installation of a home charger to save both time and money.

Don’t go from zero to 60 too quickly

EV owners also suggested that new buyers consider their expected usage and charging requirements, and don’t leap into having an expensive fast charger installed. After all, you may not need it if you can charge slowly overnight using a three-pin plug and relevant adapter and cable provided with the car.

It would also be wise to research energy providers and take advantage of nighttime charging tariffs wherever possible, so you can make powering up even more cost-effective.

The challenge with maintenance

25% of the drivers we spoke to have faced challenges finding a qualified garage or technician to conduct service, maintenance or repair work. More than 22% said that service, maintenance and repair costs put a strain on their finances.

Technician shortfall

Due to the high voltage systems and advanced technology onboard, technicians working on EVs need to have the right training. Unfortunately, this means you may not be able to use your usual garage once you have an electric or hybrid vehicle, if the technicians are not suitably qualified. However, with a little research you should be able to identify a qualified EV technician locally or check out the Institute of the Motor Industry’s Professional Register which lists TechSafe-accredited technicians.

Choose carefully 

EV drivers advised any would-be owners to do their research on different makes and models, take a test drive, and not to be swayed by an enthusiastic salesperson. They also suggest switchers should prioritise range by opting for the vehicle with the longest range they can afford.

Time well spent

The good news is that most of the EV owners we spoke to are happy they made the switch, although many admitted it took time to adjust. Taking time to research vehicles, charging and maintenance options before buying will help mitigate many of the challenges and smooth the road to electric.

View all articles