Common ULEV myths and barriers (plus some useful facts!)

In the process of developing any communication campaign it is important to consider any and all potential questions that may arise, and importantly provide a considered response. Our FAQs will help give confidence to answer questions that may be raised at events, presentations or over social media. But first, some interesting facts about the history of the electric vehicle:

  • The first electric production car was introduced in the 19th Century! The Baker Electric, produced by the Baker Motor Vehicle Company, was launched in 1899.
  • In 1900, 38% of all cars in the US were powered by electricity, only 22% were petrol powered (40% were steam driven).
  • Dr Ferdinand Porsche built his second car in 1904 which was a hybrid with 40 miles of electric range.
  • By 1912, there were 38,843 EVs on the road in the USA.

(information courtesy of cleantechnica)

Kia e-Niro

EVs have limited driving range

Early EVs had limited range, however battery technology is developing all the time and latest models offer over 150 miles on one full charge – or even up to 300 miles or more in some cases. Range will be affected by driving style and other factors such as temperature. Charging infrastructure is developing and expanding rapidly, with good coverage on motorways, however some more rural locations still have low numbers of chargers. There are a number of websites and apps that help with planning a journey in an EV.

Petrol and diesel cars are cheaper than EVs

EVs can be more expensive to buy than a petrol or diesel vehicle, but running an electric vehicle can offer savings of around £100 per 1,000 miles depending on the vehicle and driving conditions. Servicing costs are significantly lower too, this is a saving of around 10p per mile over an internal combustion engine vehicle. A survey of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV drivers shows that they are driven on EV power alone over 50% of the time and can achieve real-world fuel consumption of 100MPG (source: Green Car Guide). ZapMap offers a useful home charging cost calculator amongst the range of tools on its website. For a 40kW Nissan LEAF the energy cost for a range of 188 miles is around £6.60 when charged at home, compared to over £22 for an equivalent petrol vehicle. For an EV this works out at 3.5p per mile.

EV battery ranges drop quickly

The driving range of an EV can be maximised by employing fuel-efficient eco-driving techniques. The EST can offer a range of packages, either part or fully-funded courtesy of the DfT: Find out more.

Car dealerships aren’t focused on EVs

A number of manufacturers and dealerships are now very much embracing EVs and working hard to provide clear and concise information, for example the Kia UK website has useful pages covering the range of ULEV vehicles it currently manufactures: Find out more.

How do I charge an EV at home?

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles is currently offering the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme which provides funding of up to 75% of the cost of installing EV chargepoints at domestic properties in the UK. Most car dealerships will take prospective purchasers through this process and will even arrange all the paperwork as part of the sales process for new and used EVs. More details here. If you don’t have off-street parking at your address, there is funding that local authorities can access to install on street charging facilities. You will need to lobby your local authority to do this, details of the scheme are here.

How do I charge an EV away from home?

Public charge points – the publicly accessible charge point network – is growing rapidly. ZapMap is a useful source of information to check coverage in your area.  There are some locally developed sources of information on publicly accessible charge points such as Electric Brighton.

Is ‘range anxiety’ really a problem?

Many older EV models have a range of 100 miles or less, so it is true that range can be a concern, however battery technology is improving all the time and most new EVs now coming to market offer over 200 miles of range.

In households with two cars, the first, or main, vehicle travels on average 37 miles per day, with the second vehicle travelling around 13 miles per day. So both cars could be EVs, but at least the second car.

98% of all car journeys are under 50 miles which is well within the range of even the oldest EVs on the road today. Research from Delta-ee tells us that only 8% of charging is likely to happen at public charge points over the next decade, with most owners charging at home or at work.

ZapMap offers a route planner via an app and its desktop site to help you ensure that longer journeys take you via public charge points – the information on the site is updated in real-time to give details of any issues with particular charge points.

Many manufacturers offer free recovery if you run out of charge.

Are EVs greener on a whole-life basis than petrol and diesel cars?

There are a number of reports about life cycle assessment of EVs compared to petrol and diesel cars. Find out more.

Are EV batteries reliable?

In short, yes. Most manufacturers are currently offering 8 year warranties on batteries, Nissan is offering 8 years or 100,000 miles, and Hyundai offers 8 years and 125,000 miles. They are also moving away from the battery leasing model of purchasing an EV. All EV batteries are made up of a series of cells which can be replaced as required.

Is the production of EV batteries sustainable?

Manufacturing and recycling of lithium-ion batteries is improving all the time. There are clear indications that the industry is committed to putting electric motoring on a sustainable and ethically clear road ahead. The Energy Saving Trust has produced a blog post on this subject.

The lifecycle impact of EVs and their components are still relatively small scale, however as they become the norm on the roads then we will of course need to ensure that any impacts are considered and mitigated.

EV batteries are modular and can be repaired so it is very rare that a battery needs to be replaced, often just individual cells can be swapped if needed. Once batteries are no longer viable for use in an EV they can be recycled for use as energy storage facilities which will help ensure the reliability of the energy grid as the take up of EVs and associate charging requirements increase.

Perhaps of bigger concern are the social impacts of battery production, particularly since there are concerns about the labour market and working conditions in many countries with resources of minerals such as Lithium and Cobalt. Any manufacturer purchasing these resources will need to be confident of the ethics involved and will need to ensure that supply chain ethics have been clarified.

EV top facts and figures

  • How many chargepoints are there in the UK? – This is rising almost daily, and there are now more chargepoints than petrol stations! Check out the stats page on Zap-Map for an accurate figure.
  • Myth Busting: ‘EVs cost around 2p per mile to run’ – This figure may not be fully accurate currently, primarily due to the fact that the costs for using public chargepoints have risen and there is a wide range of different tariffs and costs depending on charger type and operator. There are a number of price comparison sites that enable individuals to shop around for the best home energy tariff, with some now offering dedicated EV charging options. The Go Ultra Low website has a useful EV energy tool. Charging at home is the cheapest option, unless free-to-use public charge points can be accessed.
  • How many EVs are there on the road in the UK? According to the SMMT, there were 7,704 registrations of battery electric vehicles in September 2019 compared to 2,290 12 months previously, an increase of over 236%! The numbers are still significantly lower than for internal combustion engine vehicles, however petrol vehicles saw only a 4% rise and diesels saw a 20% decrease over the same period.
  • WLTP vs NEDC, what is this all about and will it impact me if I choose to move to a ULEV? The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) replaced the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) lab test as the benchmark for recording the emissions of new vehicles in September 2017. WLTP has a number of differences compared to the previous format, primarily that the vehicles are tested over a longer distance and all variants of each vehicle are tested. Because the tests are over a longer distance with more driving styles and road types, most vehicles are recording higher emissions, and this is particularly the case for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles; there are, in the short term, likely to be fewer plug-in hybrid vehicles that emit less than 50g/km CO2. It is important to use WLTP figures wherever possible in your communication activities.

More in the toolkit…