All You Need to Know About Owning an Electric Vehicle

Whilst electric vehicles account for a small percentage of the total cars on UK roads, sales of electric cars are rising fast.

There are an estimated 660,000 electric cars (EVs) on the road in the UK and over 445,000 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), as of the end of December 2022, compared to just 3,500 in 2013, the demand for environmentally friendly motoring is growing and fast!

In fact, if uptake is aligned with the Governments Road to Zero (RTZ) targets, by 2030 it is anticipated that there will be between approximately 8 million and 11 million hybrid or electric cars in the UK.

By 2040, the number of hybrid or electric cars could reach 25.5 million.

With sales rising as quickly as they are in parallel to the continued development of the UK’s charge point infrastructure, now is a great time to consider going green. With more than 42,000 charge point connectors across the UK in over 15,500 locations and more affordable home charge points, it is becoming easier to own an electric vehicle than ever.

Formed in 2020 at our site in Trumpington, Cambridge Electric Vehicles is Cambridgeshire’s No1 EV specialist with experts on hand to help you through the journey. We know a thing or two about owning an EV and understand that it can be difficult to know where to start.

We appreciate there will be a lot of questions you would like to know the answer to!

  • How do I charge an EV?
  • How many miles will I get on a charge?
  • How long does it take to charge?
  • How expensive is it to charge?
  • Does it drive differently to a standard petrol or diesel car?
  • Are they different to service and can I take it anywhere?
  • What are the different types of EV?
  • Is electric available on two wheels?
  • What is the best EV to buy?

We will try to answer as much as we can on these pages, but we are here to help so give us a call and our EV experts will help you decide on what is right for you.

These pages will give you an overview of the key issues to consider when looking to buy an electric vehicle, which include whether an EV is right for you, the availability and choice of electric models, and the impact on vehicle ownership and running costs.

Click on one of the sections below to start your EV journey.

What is an electric vehicle or EV?


An electric vehicle (EV) runs entirely on electricity using an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine and a battery instead of a fuel tank. An EV requires no petrol or diesel to drive but instead is plugged into a public charging station or a home charger and electricity is taken directly from the national grid.

What different types of Alternative Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) are available?


An alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) is any car that doesn’t solely use a conventional petrol or diesel engine and can be split into three categories:

Hybrid (HEV)
Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

To make the right choice it is important to understand what the differences are and look at their pros and cons, from running costs to practicality.

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) - A hybrid car has a traditional petrol or diesel engine that works in combination with a separate electric motor. They can drive using either the electric motor alone, just the engine, or a combination of the two using a computer to decide when and how the engine, motor or battery takes over. However, they mainly run using fuel and the battery is recharged through regenerative braking rather than being plugged into a charging station. They are also often referred to as ‘self-charging hybrids’.
  • Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) - The principles of a PHEV are much like a hybrid in that you have a traditional engine and a battery to support the engine. However, the biggest difference is that a plug-in hybrid has a much bigger battery which means you can drive further on pure electric. PHEVs produce exhaust emissions when running on fuel but won’t when they are running on electricity. Like a BEV, plug-in hybrids can also be plugged into an electricity source to recharge the battery.
  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV or EV) - A BEV as the name suggests runs solely on electricity and therefore produces no exhaust emissions but means you can’t go anywhere without charging the battery as it needs to be plugged into a charging point to get its power. Instead of a petrol or diesel engine, they have an electric motor that is powered by batteries, which you charge by plugging the car into a socket or charge point.

How do EVs drive differently to conventional vehicles?


There are many characteristics that make driving an electric car a much more different experience to a more conventional petrol or diesel car.

As there is no internal combustion taking place in the engine and no exhaust being emitted, an electric car is very quiet. In fact, the only sound comes from the wheels on the road and music from the stereo!

As an EV delivers 100% of its power immediately you touch the accelerator, between 0-60 you will struggle to find anything quicker than an electric vehicle.

Unlike a traditional engine which uses a gearbox to change gears, EV’s don’t have any gears. Simply climb in, press the start button, choose drive and away you go. The one-speed transmission of an EV means there is no sensation of gearshifts which makes the drive even smoother.

How do I know an electric vehicle is right for me?


Making sure the range meets your commuting requirements is most people’s major concern when looking to move to more environmentally friendly motoring.

Access to a garage, drive or other off-street parking area is the easiest way to run an electric car, as it means you can safely charge the vehicle overnight.

Our EV experts at Cambridge Electric Vehicles are here to help so just give us a call today to discuss moving over to electric.

What are the benefits of electric cars?


The UK government has committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, with all new cars and vans being fully zero emission from 2035. Now has never been a better time to consider an alternative to the traditional petrol or diesel engine.

There are many benefits to owning an EV compared to a traditional internal combustion engine.

They are better, cleaner, and kinder to the environment. With no exhaust fumes and emissions, you are helping to move away from fossil fuels, embrace a more environmentally friendly way of motoring and help preserve our plant.

An EV delivers 100% of its power immediately you touch the accelerator so EV’s typically accelerate faster than many petrol or diesel alternatives with instant torque.

Improved acceleration and unrivalled zippiness around town combined with a low centre of gravity (due heavy batteries mounted in the floor) allow for an engaging drive.

Whist we have seen a rapid increase in the cost of electricity, electric cars still cost less to fully charge then filling a standard car with petrol of diesel.

Along with exemption from the London Congestion Charge and the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London, pure electric vehicles are free from paying road tax until 2025 which is another great reason to move across to an EV.

Whilst company car drivers who pay Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax will also get significant savings. There is currently 2% tax on Benefit in Kind (BIK) during 2022 / 2023 for hybrid vehicles with emissions from 1 - 50g/km and a pure electric range of over 130 miles. This is frozen at 2% until at least 2025.

Servicing is cheaper with fewer mechanical components, EV’s in theory spend less time in the garage and more time on the road! Meaning cheaper servicing costs and more money in your wallet.

What can affect the range in an EV?


Whilst range anxiety is a concern, according to the RAC the average UK commute is a round trip of just 20 miles. So, most of today’s electric cars will handle your weekly commuting on a single charge.

Manufacturers estimated ranges are based on a number of factors and changes to these will decrease the distance you can drive on a charge.

  • Motorway driving
  • Colder temperatures
  • Hot temperatures with aircon running
  • Steep inclines
  • Towing caravans

What is Regenerative Braking?


An EV’s regenerative braking feature helps recover energy that would otherwise be lost through decelerating and braking. This technology uses the kinetic energy of the vehicle to extend the range of the battery and helps you drive further on a charge.

When you release your foot from the accelerator or apply the brake in an EV, the electric motor switches from powering the wheels to generator mode. The generator then converts a portion of the kinetic energy into electricity, which is stored in the battery.

How long does it take to charge an EV?


Charging is one of the most important parts of owning an EV.

Essentially, the length of time it takes to charge an EV comes down to three important things.

  • The size of the car’s battery.
  • The amount of electrical current the car can handle.
  • The speed of the charger.

All EV chargers deliver electricity in kilowatts (kW) and depending on home charging or faster rapid chargers, output can vary dramatically. Expect anything from slow 3kW to ultra-rapid 350kW with the higher the number the quicker the charging capacity.

Using a basic 3kW charge point at home can take up to 12 hours to fully charge most EV’s. Use a faster 50kW charger found at most service stations and plug it into an MG5 and you will get 80% charge in just 50 minutes.

How do I charge my EV?


There are three types of EV chargers available. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.

  • Level 1 - Slow Charging
  • Level 2 – Fast Charging
  • Level 3 – Rapid Charging

When an EV is plugged in, the vehicle communicates to the charge point before the charger is energized. The car determines how much power the charger can deliver, and then calls for the maximum amount of power that the charger can deliver, and the vehicle can accept.

We know from experience that most EV owners will be charging their car at home, and we would highly recommend customers consider installing a home charge point for convenience and speed.

When charging on the go, the network of public EV charge points for electric vehicles is growing rapidly and there are already more than 42,000 charge point connectors in over 15,500 locations in cities, service stations and towns across the UK.

How much does it cost to charge an EV?


Instead of pence per litre, with an EV you need to think of pence per kilowatt hour (kWh) when working out electricity costs to charge an EV.

A kWh is a standard measurement of energy that your energy supplier will use to bill you and refers to a person using 1,000 watts of electricity for 1 hour.

For home charging your electricity bill will show this cost – on average it will be around 34 pence depending on your energy tariff and supplier. If petrol is 1.67p per litre, electricity will be around 34 pence per kWh.

Driving a standard family estate with a 55 litre tank and buying petrol at £1.67 per litre, the cost to fill it up is £91.85.

With an EV you need to know how large the battery is to work out how many kWh of energy it can store. For example, a year old MG ZS has a 50kWh battery which means it can store 50 kWhs of energy. The cost to charge the MG ZS from full to empty at 34p per kWh would be £0.34 x 50 = £17

Once you know the size of battery and cost to charge to full, you can then work out the pence per mile cost for both petrol and compare the two. Using the MG ZS compared to an average family petrol car with an average MPG of 40 miles we can accurately do this.

With a real life range of 200 miles for the MG (using 4 miles per kW) we can calculate the cost to travel 200 miles would be £17

If a family estate averaged 40mpg at £1.69 per litre, this works out at 22.5 litres to travel 200 miles which would cost an owner £38 to travel 200 miles.

So, travelling 200 miles in the MG ZS would cost around £17 and travelling in an equivalent petrol car would cost around £38 – roughly 50% of the cost of petrol!

What are the service intervals on an EV?


EVs don’t have other recognisable car parts like a gear box, clutch, exhaust, catalytic converter, starter motor and many more common parts needed in a car using a combustion engine.

However, like any car on the road, an EV will require routine servicing and checks as there is more to an EV than just a battery so typically will need servicing every 12 month / 30,000 miles.

Do I have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on an electric vehicle?


Road tax is calculated based on the CO2 tailpipe emissions of your vehicle, its list price and what year it was registered. As all motorists know, to drive a car on UK roads you must pay road tax, officially known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

However, there are different rules for owners of EV’s. Pure electric vehicles are free from paying road tax until 2025 which is another great reason to move across to an EV.

  • Pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are exempt from VED.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) pay reduced VED.

What company car tax would I pay on an EV?


There's currently 2% tax on Benefit in Kind (BIK) during 2022 / 2023 for hybrid vehicles with emissions from 1 - 50g/km and a pure electric range of over 130 miles. This is frozen at 2% until at least 2025.

Does it cost more money to service or repair an EV?


To look at most electric cars with their futuristic dashboards and large battery packs you would think that they would be considerably more expensive to service and maintain than their petrol or diesel equivalents.

With fewer mechanical components, EV’s in theory spend less time in the garage and more time on the road! Meaning cheaper servicing costs and more money in your wallet.

Petrol and diesel engines have thousands of moving parts, whereas electric motors are a lot less complicated, with most EV’s made up of no more than 20 components. For example, there is no oil to change or filters to renew, or cambelt and water pump to change.

However, like any car on the road, an EV will require routine servicing and checks as there is more to an EV than just a battery.

Do you need to MOT an electric car?


Unfortunately, owning an EV does not mean that you can avoid the annual MOT once the vehicle reaches 3 years old. Like all cars, EVs must pass the annual inspection and currently, MOTs for electric cars cost the same as non-electric cars.

However, as an electric vehicle has no emissions, the test is slightly different in that there is no emissions element to the MOT. The fact that there is one less thing that the car could potentially fail on means you could save money in the long run on repairs and re-tests.