6.How to drive your first EV - Battery electric car

Battery Electric Cars are here now. Efficient, quiet, non polluting and fun to drive.

Why not take an EV out for a test drive and see what it is all about?

EVs work best when you can charge up the batteries at home with a garge or driveway to park your EV while it is charging.

Charge points for street parking will come, but they are not very common at the moment.

If you have charge points at work, and there are enough charge points for everyone who wants to use them, that is another possibility.

You can run an EV using public charge points - but make sure that you choose an EV that has a fast charge rate and you have good fast chargers close to where you live.

You want to be able to do 90% of all return journeys from this home base.

For the remaining 10% of journeys you will need to allow the extra journey time for recharging from public fast charge points.

Work out the maximum return distance included in 90% of all journeys. For me that is a round trip of 200 miles, 320 km.

We don't use the maximum capacity of an EV battery. An EV with a range of 200 miles 320 km wouldn't be enough. To allow for this spare  battery capacity multiply our round trip distance by 1.4

200 * 1.4 = 280 miles, 450 km. This is the expected quoted range that I want in our EV.

We aim to charge the EV batteries after every day's use to 80%, and we don't normally want the battery going below 20% of capacity at the end of the day of normal use. So each day you set out with 80% of charge in the battery.

There is a big advantage in buying the smallest EV that meets your requirements. Larger and heavier vehicles need larger and more expensive batteries and take longer to charge, and cost more to run. There is also the possibility that larger EVs will be taxed more in the future. Also remember that the switch to EVs is also to protect our planet and civilisation from the effects of global warming. A smaller vehicle makes a lot more sense. It can charge faster and costs less to run.

Also check the insurance group for your EV. The higher numbers can be a lot more expensive to insure.

We want our EVs batteries to last as long as possible. That means keeping the batteries at the right temperature, even in very hot or very cold weather, and on long journeys. This requires active battery management that can both heat and cool the battery, backed up by sound gurantees and a supplier with a reputation to replace any battery that degrades too quickly or fails. A guarantee that transfers to second or third owner.

Now for those 10% of longer trips where you may need to use a public charger en-route or at your destination. Make sure that the EV that you buy has the right type of charging standard and plugs for the public chargers that are common in your country. And has a charge rate that takes advantage of the fastest public chargers available.

Some public chargers allow you to pay with a credit card, but not all. Some require you to set up a special card for the public charge point company before you travel, and some may require you to use a mobile phone app as well. So some homework is needed before you travel long distance.

Make a point of charging your EVs batteries to the maximum 100% before setting out. If the weather is cold pre-heat the car while it is still plugged in at home. Wear warm clothing and heat the seat rather than the car. A heat pump heating system is better in cold climates as it uses less energy.

Drive gently and keep the speed down to maximise the range of the EV. ( Not something you have to worry about too much for your normal 90% of driving)

Plan to recharge when the battery gets down to 20% of charge, unless you know you can get to your destination - and there is a charger at your destination - before the battery gets down to 10% of charge. Do beware that some public chargers are only accessible during working hours.

If you buy an EV outright, depreciation of the value of an EV is perhaps the biggest cost of running an EV, and for some EVs that are in demand the depreciation can be zero. Depreciation  is highest for those EVs with insufficient range and a lack of good battery management - but even for those vehicles there is a good market for EVs for people who only need one for a short daily commute and won't be using them for a longer journey.

There are many other advantages that are common to most EVs, such as the low cost of electricity compared to fossil fuels, the low cost of maintenance, superb acceleration and a smooth and quiet ride.

My EV check list is :

200 miles 320 km every day range. 280 miles , 450 km maximum range ( or higher)

efficiency of  160 wh/km or lower

Can charge from normal household power socket

Can charge from 7.2 kW household charge point

Can charge at up to 100kW public charger

insurance group 34 or lower (Tesla 3 long range is too high for me at 50, standard plus is 48 )

5 seats

500 litre boot space ( Soul EV is only 315 litres)


higher driving position

electric folding wing mirrors  - we have a lot of very narrow roads.

All LED lights

roof rails

Good reputation and guarantees on battery and corrosion

Reliable service and repairs

Good safety in tests