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What do I need to know about electric cars?

(20 Posts)
Butteredparsnip1ps Sun 18-Jun-17 10:15:00

Have booked a test drive this week so I'm doing some research. The car I'm looking at is purely electric and is 2 years old.

The range looks OK on paper, as I mostly do short journeys (and I could take DH's car if I'm going further) but I'm concerned about what happens in cold weather. What are EV like to start and what happens to their range when it's cold?

Can you "book" a charging point? I was looking at a journey to a city that's about 3/4 of the car's range, so I'd need to charge up to get home. It looks like there are chargers at the park and ride which would be fine ... but.... what if they're all in use?

Just wondering what people's experiences are. Also what else should I be asking / researching?

Thanks in advance - looking forward to hearing your advice grin

AnnieOH1 Sun 18-Jun-17 10:39:10

At least some makes you have to rent the battery for around £75 a month, they will never sell it. My MIL seriously looked at one, it would've been perfect for her lifestyle, but was totally cost prohibitive compared to her 1.4l ford.

Butteredparsnip1ps Sun 18-Jun-17 11:24:49

Thanks Annie
That's just the sort of thing that isn't advertised! It's not been mentioned so far, but I will definitely ask when we do the test drive now

Butteredparsnip1ps Sun 18-Jun-17 20:19:54

Bumping shamelessly!
I also wondered what people's experience of servicing (& costs) was?

NannyR Sun 18-Jun-17 20:30:12

The battery cost was what put me off buying one. I was looking at a Renault zoe, I could have had a charging pod fitted at home (although they these cost a bit as well) and we have one at work, so charging wasn't a problem but the battery was around £40 a month so it would cost more than my petrol car. Pity as I really like the idea of electric cars from an environmental point of view.

At work I drive a plug in hybrid (Volvo xc90), which is lovely to drive and really economical as all of the weekday journeys are short local trips so within range of the battery. They say that they haven't noticed a difference in their electric bills since they bought it and its always plugged in when it's parked.

Butteredparsnip1ps Mon 19-Jun-17 07:44:58

Thanks - another battery warning. I'll definitely look at this, as it would wipe out a lot of the savings....

NannyR Mon 19-Jun-17 08:37:00

I've just rechecked the Renault website - it's more like £90 to hire the battery for the mileage I do, compared to the £45 I spend on petrol each month. Maybe in a few years they will start getting cheaper, hopefully!

Butteredparsnip1ps Mon 19-Jun-17 11:00:01

I'm not looking at a Renault, but that's ridiculous - it's more that I currently spend on fuel shock

TalbotAMan Mon 19-Jun-17 15:16:04

I drive a Nissan Leaf, though DW has a big Peugeot diesel estate which is the 'family' car for when we need to do long distances or carry lots of stuff.

To address your specific questions, EVs don't 'start' as such. You press the button or turn the key and they are ready to go. The electric motor only runs when you are actually using it to move. In extreme cold climates the battery performance will be substantially degraded, but it rarely if ever gets that cold in the UK. In those markets Nissan fit a battery warmer. Additionally, most pure electrics can pre-heat from the mains. Otherwise, cold weather reduces the battery performance and hence the range - whether that matters depends on the journeys you are doing. Expect to use more electricity in winter than in summer, but the same is true for petrol and diesel cars; it's just perhaps less noticeable.

There isn't a system for booking charging points, unfortunately, but at the moment as long as you can be a bit flexible and wait if necessary the supply seems to be adequate compared to the demand, at least in the area of the country in which I hang out.

Battery lease was/is essentially a Renault thing. Most manufacturers don't do it. Nissan, who are closely tied to Renault, did try battery leasing but it really didn't work. The theory was that people would pay for the security that the battery would be replaced if it degraded too much, but all the evidence is that batteries are lasting better than feared. Personally, I wouldn't lease a battery on its own. However, a lot of people seem to use PCP deals which include the battery.

There is actually a lot less servicing to do on a 'pure' EV - there's no oil, oil filter or air filter to change, no spark plugs, no engine radiator and coolant, no exhaust, cat, DPF &c. Brakes tend to last a long time since most braking is done by turning the motor into a generator and recharging the battery, with classic brakes only being used for the final stop, when the battery is already full and emergency braking. Nissan do a fixed price scheme at their dealers but I haven't had mine long enough to have it serviced.

The go-to place is which is the main EV owners site for the UK and deals with general issues and vehicle specific ones. The people there are generally quite friendly to those thinking about taking the plunge. There are also various reviews of the available EVs, buying guides and the like to be found on YouTube.

Butteredparsnip1ps Mon 19-Jun-17 22:44:39

Thanks a lot TalbotAMan (by BF from school drove a Talbot Horizon - is that at all relevant grin)

Really helpful advice - and reassuring re the battery. I've read a review about low mileage cars (which this one is) having problems sometimes if their batteries haven't be discharged / charged properly so I will have lots of questions for the dealer about that.

Reassuring re the cost of servicing etc, and "starting" in the cold. I guess that using more power in the cold isn't a deal breaker. I'll check out the site you recommend. Looking forward to the test drive!!!

Butteredparsnip1ps Tue 20-Jun-17 15:15:51

Just back from the test drive and loved the car! It has an awful lot of kit for the money and is fantastic to drive.
I actually had to concentrate really hard to keep under 30 miles and hour in town as it is soooo smooth.
Picking it up on Friday #excited

memove Wed 30-Aug-17 23:34:22

How are you getting on @Butteredparsnip1ps ?

I'm really interested in EVs but dh not convinced!

teaandakitkat Wed 30-Aug-17 23:48:11

We have a Renault Zoe. I love it. We lease ours through work, because its electric its very tax efficient. I'd be nervous about buying one, technology moves so fast. We've had ours nearly 2 years and it's due for an upgrade.

Bad things- we found the range significantly reduced in cold weather. But we live quite far north and it does get cold.

Charging- mainly at home. Our local Ikea has a rapid charger, charges in half an hour, just long enough to have a cup of tea. Otherwise you can find yourself sitting in a station car park or whatever for ages waiting for enough chargw. You can go away and leave it but the chargers are not alwaya in places you'd want to spend time.

At our local station there's a guy gets the train in the morning, plugs his car in and goes to work all day. So no one can use that charger all day.

But usually we've not had any trouble charging in public.

It has to go to a proper electric car place, you can't take it to the local mechanic at the end of the road. We've not had the greatesr service from them so its a shame we always have to go there.

Ours broke down once and it took an age to fix. Partly because the garage is just not great, partly because it took them agea to figure out what was wrong with it, then source the right part, then have the special electric car mechanic come and fix it. But it's new, I'm sure that will improve.

Cars like the Leaf have been around much longer so garages will have lots more experience with them jf something does go wrong.

On balance though we love ours and would never go back I don't think.

memove Thu 31-Aug-17 13:00:18

That's really interesting @teaandakitkat

Butteredparsnip1ps Thu 31-Aug-17 14:00:39

Hi - I love the car It's fantastic and does exactly what I was looking for.

My mileage at around 10,000 a year isn't high and I mostly do short journeys, so I wanted a small efficient car. After several years of driving an older vehicle whilst our 2 eldest DC were learning to drive I also wanted a nice comfortable car with a good level of kit on it.

I ruled diesel out, as not only does their future seem uncertain, but I don't do enough mileage to benefit from the MPG. I also found that smaller petrol cars didn't have the level of comfort or spec that I was after.

As I say, I do mostly short journeys and can use DH's larger car if I need to and so a purely electric vehicle works well for us as a second car. If I didn't have access to another car, I would have probably gone for a hybrid as the EV does have limits.

But it has a lot of upsides too. It's fast, corners brilliantly and costs 3p a mile to run (+ insurance is £207, road tax is free and I pay a monthly cost for servicing and breakdown cover).

You can pay to join an EV network, but I haven't felt that necessary yet - for me it works well to charge the car at home overnight. The car doesn't have a rapid charging facility - but again that wasn't something that I felt I needed.

The Spec is mad. I have metallic paint, alloys, sat nav, blue tooth, reversing camera, heated leather seats, heated windscreen, and all manner of technology. It is everything you would expect on a premium marque car, packed into a smaller vehicle. I am very happy!!

memove Thu 31-Aug-17 21:48:28

Thanks OP.

Dh is having none of it 🙄

He loves flash cars. I won't have one any more (looks a bit dickish to me!) and I won't have one on finance. So those are my non negotiables. His is no to EV.

I'm going to look more at hybrids.. c

teaandakitkat Fri 01-Sep-17 19:36:03

Yep ours is pretty high spec too for such a small car. I don't know how I lived without a reversing camera.

And I can set mine to be defrosted by a certain time in the morning, that's brilliant in the depths of winter.

memove Fri 01-Sep-17 21:27:07


weatherbomb Fri 01-Sep-17 21:36:13

I WANT ONE!!!!! gringringrin

ImpyDimpy Sat 21-Oct-17 22:27:10

Very late to this thread.

The rental fee of the battery is for the manufacturer to come out & replace it if needed, it acts like a warranty.

DH works for Renault.

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