Find the up-to-date answers to your Green Car questions…
The electricity used to charge electric vehicles ultimately comes from a range of sources within the grid, some of which use fossil fuels. However, in a country such as the UK with a mixed energy grid, electric vehicles are much cleaner than their petrol or diesel counterparts.
Of electricity generated in 2017, gas accounted for 39.7% whilst coal accounted for only 6.7%. Renewable electricity generation was 98.9 TWh in 2017, a record high, and up nearly a fifth, due to increased capacity and higher wind speeds. Renewables’ share of electricity generation is 29.4%, second only to gas. Nuclear remains broadly steady at 20.9%.
Furthermore, as the grid decarbonises with the increased use of renewable energy sources
such as wind and solar, an electric vehicle’s emissions will continue to reduce over time.
A number of charging networks such as Ecotricity and the POLAR network exclusively use renewable energy.
According to a report written by Ricardo, the CO2 emissions of manufacturing an average electric car are approximately 50% higher than the average petrol car, half of which stems from the production of the battery. However, these battery production emissions are mitigated over the lifecycle of the vehicles due to the lower in-use emissions, resulting in lower overall emissions of around 30%.
While electric car batteries do experience some degradation over time, examples have shown that this happens too slowly to be considered a concern:
Most vehicle manufacturers offer extensive battery warranties, for example Nissan offers an 8-year, 100,000-mile battery warranty on the new LEAF, during which time Nissan will provide a new battery free of charge if there is a failure or if degradation reaches an unacceptable level (-25% from original capacity).
The driving range of a typical electric vehicle on sale today exceeds the daily mileage of more than 95% of vehicle journeys in the UK.
For longer journeys, public charging points (including rapid chargers, which can charge an electric car to 80% from empty in around 30-40 minutes) can be used. However, with real-world ranges of 177 miles and 279 miles on £30,000 electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF and Hyundai Kona respectively, many medium to long range journeys can be achieved without charging midway.
Studies have shown that payload can have a significant effect on the range of electric vans, with a fully laden vehicle losing almost 50% of its available range.
However, as the typical payload for most uses is nearer 50%, a much smaller range reduction would occur. Most electric vans are currently popular for urban delivery solutions, with generally shorter journeys, therefore the potential loss of range will be less of an issue.
Most electric vehicles come with a cable with a 3-pin plug to allow for easy charging at home or anywhere without a designated charging point, although charging times will be significantly increased. However, it is recommended that a charging point should be used rather than a 3-pin socket.
Changes were recently made to the plug-in car and van grants, removing most current plug-in hybrids from the scheme and reducing the grant amount for full electric vehicles (see table above). According to the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy, these grants will continue in some form until at least 2020.
If an EV was only charged at Ecotricity rapid chargers it may well cost as much to run as a petrol vehicle. However, these facilities are designed for occasional use on long journeys, with most charging taking place at home or at a workplace where electricity is much cheaper.
Charging at home or at the workplace will cost around 2-3p a mile, as opposed to 12-14p a mile for a typical petrol or diesel car.