Remember, you need to have access to a garage, drive or other off-street parking area to be able to recharge an electric vehicle overnight, either using an existing mains socket or an electric vehicle charge point . If on-street parking is your only possibility, then you can still apply to have a public on-street charge point outside your property, or alternatively you may be able to charge your vehicle at other places such as work during the day.
Full Electric Vehicles, also known as ‘100% electric vehicles’ or ‘pure electric vehicles’, are completely driven by an electric motor. There is no conventional petrol or diesel engine. The motor is powered by a battery that can be charged by you from your mains supply at home, or by a specially fitted charge point that you can have installed at your property. Charge points are also increasingly becoming available in locations such as supermarkets, car parks, work places etc.
So, how does an electric vehicle motor work? As with any conventional motor, electrical energy from the battery is passed through wire coils in the motor to create a magnetic field. This magnetism turns a rotor, which then turns the wheels of the vehicle.
To maximise the range of the electric vehicle, this process is run in reverse when you brake. The motor is put into reverse to slow the vehicle down, acting as a mini-generator to top-up the battery. Known as ‘regenerative braking’, this can add 10 miles or more to the range of the vehicle - energy that is entirely wasted through braking in petrol and diesel vehicles.
As full electric vehicles rely entirely on electricity for fuel, they do not produce any exhaust emissions or CO 2 – and that means the cost of your annual car tax is zero! At present, most of these vehicles on the market typically offer a range of around 100 miles, though some offer more.
Extended range electric vehicles are primarily powered by their electric motor – the same as a full electric vehicle. However, they also contain a relatively small conventional petrol or diesel fuel tank, which can be used to extend the driving range of the vehicle when the electric motor’s battery has been used up. The driver can also choose to manually switch to using the fuel tank, if they want to preserve the charge in the battery when driving using the fuel tank, the petrol/diesel engine recharges the battery.
The pure electricity battery range of extended-range vehicles varies from one manufacturer to another, before the vehicle switches from using the battery to using the fuel tank.
Extended range electric vehicles also have lower CO 2 emissions when compared to conventional fuel cars, which means you will still pay nothing for your annual car tax. Typically they emit around 20g to 30g of CO 2 per km.
Hybrid vehicles use a conventional petrol or diesel fuel tank, in combination with an electric motor, to increase the efficiency of the car and use less fuel. In contrast to 100% electric and extended range electric vehicles, a hybrid is primarily powered by its petrol/diesel fuel tank. The battery, which powers the electric motor, is much smaller than in a full electric vehicle and tends to drive the wheels at low speeds or for limited range.
That said, the battery is still sufficient in most models to cover the average journey length of the UK driver, which is just 7 miles per trip!
After the battery’s range has been used up, the hybrid capability means that the vehicle can continue journeys powered by its conventional engine, with the same range capability of a conventional petrol/diesel car. The use of the electric motor means that a plug-in hybrid vehicle tends to have lower CO 2 emissions when compared to conventional fuel cars, which means you will still pay nothing (or a lot less) for your annual car tax. Typically they emit around 40 to 50g/km CO 2 .
Hybrids come in two types – ‘plug in’ and ‘full’ hybrid. The key difference is simply the ‘plug-in’ bit. Full hybrids’ batteries are smaller and are charged by the petrol/diesel engine whilst you are driving. The larger battery in plug in hybrids can be charged directly from the mains, giving a much longer range running on electricity.
Click here to discover all you need to know about charging your vehicle and electric vehicle charge points.