Electric Car Jargon Buster & FAQ's
Although many motorists are extremely positive about the future of electric cars, there is still concern if we are ready to replace petrol and diesel engines just yet.
What are the main concerns?
- Batteries - how long they will last, guarantees, warranties and technologies.
- Range anxiety – how often do I have to charge?
- Price – the technology is new and the retail price can be high
- Charging – how, where, when?
- Maintenance – repairs and servicing costs
Electric Car Jargon buster and FAQ’s
What happens when an electric car runs out of battery?
The biggest concern many motorists have with electric cars is their range, and running out of electricity – called “range anxiety”. Thankfully, most modern electric cars, on average, can drive over 100 miles on a single charge; models like the Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model X, Polestar 2 and I-Pace can offer 200 miles or more. Electric car battery technology is constantly improving, meaning more and more manufacturers are releasing new, more efficient and more affordable models all the time.
That said, running out of electricity is unlikely, as electric cars come with a range indicator to warn you when your range is low. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are low on electricity, electric cars have an inbuilt sat-nav to help drivers find the closest charging station. Downloading the Zap Map app can be very handy too, because not only will it direct you to the nearest station, but it will show you if the station is free to use, as well as the type of connectors available and how much it’ll charge you. UK’s public charging infrastructure is drastically increasing. There are currently over 13,000 public charging points where you can top up your electric car.
Which electric chargers are available for public charging?
There are two primary types available: Type 1 and Type 2. A universal type is also available that is compatible with both. Type 2 sockets are commonly found on European models, while American/Asian manufacturers prefer a Type 1. Most modern electric cars use a connector called J1772 for 110V and 240V charging, which is what all public charging stations use.
Which cars are compatible with a Type 1 and Type 2 charger?
Examples of electric cars with a Type 1 socket (5 pin) include the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Kia Soul EV. While the Renault Zoe, BMW i3, Tesla, VW e-Golf and Hyundai IONIQ all use a type 2 socket (7 pin).
What’s the difference between tethered and untethered cables?
A ‘tethered’ cable means it is fixed to the charge point, while an ‘untethered’ cable plugs into and can be removed from the charge point. With untethered cables, it allows for different cables to be connected – for instance, you can use the same charge point for a Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe. However, tethered is the most popular out of the two because you don’t have to use a connecting cable whenever you need to charge, which massively reduces the risk of the cable ever being stolen. A charge point with a tethered cable costs about £50 more than an untethered one. Untethered cables require you to use your own cable to connect to your electric car. Sometimes they come free with the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf being an exception, but otherwise you will need to purchase one.
What are the different charging modes?
There are 4 charging modes. Modes 1-3 are for charging from a mains connection using the in car battery charger. Mode 4 is a ultra-fast charger using an external battery charger.
We explain each charging mode in more detail below;
- Mode 1. Slow charging from a regular electric socket (single or three-phase).
- Mode 2. Slow charging from a regular socket via a single-phase or three-phase network and installation of an earthing cable. This lead uses a box that is placed no more than 30mm from the 3 pin plug end. This box mirrors the communication of a charging point and enables the cable (instead of the charging point) to communicate directly with the car.
- Mode 3. For mode 3 charging, a dedicated wallbox with control and protection features is built-in, as well as a charging cable – all of which are specially designed for fast EV charging. -
- Mode 4. The vehicle is connected to the power grid via an external charger. Control and protection functions and the charging cable are installed permanently during the installation.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
The time it takes to charge an electric car can vary from either 30 minutes or go up to 12 hours. This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. An electric car with a 60kWh battery takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a standard 7kW charging point, and a 22kWh charger in 1-2 hours. 50 kWh Rapid chargers can charge an electric car to 80% in 20-30 minutes.
Can I charge my electric car at home?
When it comes to charging your electric car at home, you have two choices. You can either use a domestic UK three-pin socket, or you can get a fast charging point installed, granted you have on-street parking or a garage.
The UK government offers a grant of £500 towards having a home charger installed. This grant is not only available for electric car and plug-in car owners, but also company car drivers.
Do electric cars need servicing?
Like petrol and diesel cars, electric cars still need servicing from time to time but do not require nearly as much attention. They only need gear oil change once a year and have fewer moving parts compared to a petrol or diesel engine. An all-electric vehicle has 4 main components: the motor, an on-board charger, the battery and an inverter. This is why electric cars generally cost less to service.
Can you tow a caravan with an electric car?
Short answer is: yes, you can – but there’s not a huge list to choose from, because many manufacturers don’t usually certify their models for towing. Also, electric cars tend to be heavier than regular petrol and diesel cars due to their large batteries, so with a caravan included into the equation it would affect braking efficiency. That said, there are several plug-in models that would easily tow a caravan, namely, Mitsubishi, Volvo and Audi.