BEEP’s Caroline Hearne dispels the myths around electric vehicles

East Durham Business editor Leanne Fawcett chats to Business Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) Managing Caroline Hearne, who aims to dispel the myths around electric vehicles and tells us why investing in these greener modes of transport could be right for you…

EDB. Is it true that electric vehicles are more expensive that fossil fuelled cars?

  1. The upfront cost is higher than fossil fuelled cars, although cheaper models are beginning to arrive on the market. If you factor in that the on-going running costs are significant lower (much lower servicing costs as no internal combustion engine, and lower fuel costs), the cost of ownership is less over the life of the vehicle. You are also helping the environment.

EDB: If I buy an electric car now, could it devalue faster if the range improves in newer models?

  1. Yes, this is true, but there is always the alternative to lease. The availability of private leases has grown enormously in the last few years, and maybe a better option while the market settles.

EDB. An electric vehicle has a much shorter range on a charge than a fossil fuelled vehicle does on a tank of petrol or diesel. Is that right?

  1. Again, yes, this is true, however, there are two things to think about here. There are more and more electric vehicles coming onto the market with longer ranges between charge (250-300 miles) and it is worth looking at your usage to work out how often you actually need a range longer than this.

It is likely that most households will find this would do 95% of their journeys. If you are driving further than that, you would need to stop in any event, and most service station chargers are the rapid models.

EDB. What about public charging points. Are there enough?

  1. As of February 2022, there are 18,353 public charging points in the UK, totalling 29,215 devices. In the previous month, 1,101 new connectors were added to the network, and this number is growing all the time.

Zap map is probably the best app to see what the network looks like near you. It is acknowledged that the use of apps for chargers is likely to discourage those without smartphones who cannot charge their cars at home.

EDB. What happens when everyone gets home from work at 5pm and plugs their electric vehicle into charge?

  1. In practice, is unlikely most people will want to charge at that time, particularly if they have a split day/night tariff from their supplier providing cheaper electricity overnight.

In the future, it is envisaged that any electric cars plugged in during the 4-7pm peak demand on the grid, may feed the grid from their battery to help balance it, and subsequently charge back up before morning. This would be under the control of the user – the grid will not pull from your battery unless you chose to let it.

EDB. If the grid is down, can you still charge your car?

If the grid is down, petrol pumps don’t work either. Petrol pumps are powered by electricity.

EDB. Electric vehicles catch fire. Is that true?

  1. Fossil fuel vehicles do as well. A survey by the US Department of Transportation found the incidence of fires in electric vehicles was no higher than fossil fuels ones.

EDB. Batteries are dirty – how are we going to dispose of them?

  1. Batteries used in cars are not finished with once the car comes to end of life. They can operate very well as static batteries, and there are many companies vying for them for secondary use. One use is as battery backup for storing excess solar power generated by solar PV, but new ways of reusing them are being devised all the time. Remember, we haven’t cracked nuclear waste, but we still use nuclear power.

Useful Information (if you are still wavering)

  • There is currently a Government Grant for installing EV chargers at home or at the workplace. The Grant provides up to £350 per charger installed but you need to be quick. The Grant is being withdrawn for some residential properties from the end of March 2022.
  • There is also a Government Grant for the purchase of electric vehicles for any models under £35,000.
  • Some utility providers offer split day/night tariffs which allow electric vehicle users to charge their vehicles overnight at a lower kWh rate than their day rate.
  • Employers providing free electric vehicle charging to their employees can currently do this without it being classed as a ‘benefit in kind’. A good way to incentivise staff to take up cleaner, less polluting vehicles.
  • There are several companies offering month by month rental of electric vehicles. This is an excellent way of testing whether the move to electric would suit you.
  • Electric vehicles are obviously exempt from Ultra Low Emission Zone charges,
  • Many councils offer lower or no fee for parking permits for EVs.
  • Some places, like the National Trust, offer free destination charging while you visit their properties.