It was just over 6 years ago when we decided to change our car. At the time electric vehicles were still relatively new so we included them in our research. Hmmm, there was only one dealer in our area and even they told us that the vehicle wouldn’t meet our requirements. So an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle it was.
Now, 6+ years later, we’ve decided to change our car again. And, yep you’ve guessed it, we’re back looking at electric vehicles again.
Where do we start! The number of electric vehicles (EVs) has increased massively. Now nearly (not quite) all the car dealers have a choice of different vehicles, and they are certainly not feature-light. But, where do you start when you start looking at all the technical specification: range, efficiency, heat pumps, charging types and battery. Gone are the days of petrol or diesel, cc engine size, and mpg (miles per gallon) – it’s a completely new and mystifying language!
So, before you continue reading, I must make it clear that I am not a technical expert, I’m not employed in the car industry, and am simply putting together some of my thoughts (and references) about some of the new language you’ll come across and what I think it means. Then, if you think it will help, use that as a basis for doing your own research on the vehicles you want to look at. Please note, this is looking predominantly at the UK market – particularly for charging.
The first thing we looked at was the battery size. You should find this relatively easily in all the adverts or brochures. This will be the kW figure eg you might see a car that is 60kW or one that’s 150kW. The rule of thumb is the larger the kW figure the larger the battery. The larger the battery, will generally, give you more of a range.
This is the distance you should be able to travel on a full charge. BUT, there are lots of things that will affect this figure: driving style, weather conditions, battery age, road type are only a few. This is where we now want to check the WLTP figures for the car. This will give you a guide to how far the car will go on a full charge – but remember, although these are official figures, they are done under test conditions so all the items mentioned above will affect the range you personally will achieve.
If you think back to ICE cars, we often heard terms like “50 miles per gallon”. Electric cars also have efficiency figures and this is generally given in two different ways:
Again, just like with ICE vehicles the efficiency of the car is affected by many different factors, including how heavy your foot is on the accelerator.
Some cars come with heat pumps automatically included, others are an optional extra. These tend to take some of the extra heat generated from the car to warm the inside of the car – particularly useful in winter or low temperatures. This means that less battery power is being used to heat the inside of the car so the range shouldn’t deteriorate as much as if a heat pump wasn’t installed. If you are planning adding a heat pump to your car discuss this with your car dealer for more details.
Type 1 – This is common in Asia and the USA. This is an AC connector
Type 2 – This is common in Europe and the UK. Again, this is an AC connector.
CCS – This allows DC charging and is commonly found in Europe and the UK.
CHAdeMO – This also allows DC charging and is also found in the UK and Asia.
While these are the main charging types there is also (in the UK) a 3-pin cable which will plug into a normal socket. This is a slow way of charging.
The slowest way is to use a 3-pin socket, but that may be sufficient if you are simply topping up overnight.
Next comes AC charging. Always check the charger – the most common ones offer charging between 7kWh to 22kWh. The higher the number – the faster the charge. However, you should also check to see how fast your car can charge at AC – with some the fastest is around 11kWh.
Finally, there’s DC charging. This is the fastest charging and can vary greatly, from around 50kWh to up to 350kWh. Again, you will need to check to see how fast your car can charge – some currently charge at 100kWh or 125kWh.
We thought it would be quite useful to include some further reading on some of the items covered in this blog as we have just skimmed the surface and covered the basics. There’s lots of other articles out there, and of course there is also the material from the car manufacturers as well – that will give you a guide to what features are on specific models. Happy reading!