A Closer Look at EV: What’s Right For You

The buzzword in automobile circles right now is the Electric Vehicle (EV) and it looks set to remain so for some time. Ecologically friendly, quiet and easy to fuel up, the EV is an attractive option for many people, yet may have its limitations for some. You may think that electric cars are a new idea: you would be wrong. In fact, in April, 1899 – 115 years ago – a young Belgian daredevil named Camille Jenatzy became the first man to surpass 100km/h in a car – and it was an electric car. If electric vehicles have been around so long, then, you might ask why we are not all driving them. The reasons are many, and it is telling that the same problems presented by the 21st century EV were also around in Jenatzy’s time. Let’s start by looking at the major drawback: the range.

An EV is powered by batteries; batteries are, by their nature, not particularly efficient. The best selling all-electric car in the USA, the Nissan Leaf, has a range on fully charged batteries of 80miles. Bear in mind that this can fall quite dramatically if you need to use the heater, lights or other electrical systems. This poses a clear problem: with a standard gas powered car you are never far from a gas station. They are plentiful, and there are several in every town. The infrastructure for charging electric cars is not yet in place in many cities, hence journeys have to be planned carefully. Battery power is improving, but it will be some time before an electric vehicle matches the range of a modern, fuel-efficient car. Rather than filling up with fuel, an EV is charged, much like your cell phone gets plugged in every now and then. Charging can be via specially installed charging base units, the latest of which can charge your Leaf in three and half hours, or if you are in an unfamiliar place, by plugging it into a standard socket. This takes much longer, of course, but is clearly convenient.

It should be noted that batteries do not last forever; they will eventually need replacing. Many makers of EV’s offer a rental package for batteries, with replacement available at the allotted time. So, the electric car is inefficient, doesn’t go very far, and needs charging on a regular basis. We’ve really given the EV a dressing down here! To be fair, it’s not all bad, and for certain users an EV could be the perfect choice.

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Let’s say you use your car only for a trip to the shops a few miles away, for the school run, or for a short commute to work every day. For you, an EV may be ideal. The afore