Choosing the Best Electric Car Isn’t As Complicated As You might Think

ELECTRICITY. It boils the kettle, lights the house, and keeps the TV working. It’s also a key ingredient in the current crop of electric vehicles available to lease in the UK.

Electric vehicles aren’t new, but the current pace of development has taken a lot of people by surprise. Kia has recently undertaken a study to see how fleet managers across the country are incorporating electric vehicles into their businesses. Obviously not all of us are responsible for maintaining a fleet of cars, but it’s a good indication of how any switch to electricity has been adopted.

The results show that there is still a great deal of confusion, even among those whose job it is to keep up. Assuming the 150 fleet managers who responded are all regular people they appear to share many of the most common concerns.

Some are early adopters, others haven’t but accept that they will in the next few years. More than half express concerns about insufficient charging infrastructure, but a majority believe this will have improved massively by 2021. Many just felt they didn’t understand the technology enough to make a decision yet.

So if you are thinking of leasing an electric car there are a number of things you need to consider. It’s worth remembering that they come in various forms so knowing your PHEV from your hybrid from your EV can make the decision a lot simpler.

Electric Vehicle (EV)

These are the purest form of electric car currently available as they rely solely on battery power to get them down the road. There’s no engine back-up so if you forget to charge it you’ll be walking home. Unless you have access to a decent charging network that is.

Charging infrastructure is consistently flagged as one of the reasons why people are wary of electric vehicles. If you live in a large city this is probably less of an issue, but it is the main source of “range anxiety”. It turns out this is mainly wrong.

The average range of an EV is well in excess of 100 miles, in some cases - Tesla - it can be a highly usable 200 miles. And those numbers will continue to increase as battery technology improves. As the average commute is between 25 - 50 miles per day the vast majority of people could easily switch to an EV for daily use. Overnight charging, or daytime charging at work, will ensure that your battery remains topped up, and you get home in time for tea.

If you do require more range there are a few options for EVs with Range Extenders. Essentially they are still battery powered but a small petrol engine is fitted to act as a generator and boost the battery charge as you drive to give you an extended range. You’ll still need to charge the battery. But unlike regular EVs you’ll also have to slosh in the odd litre of fuel in too.

One final word, because the motor industry loves an acronym, an EV is also sometimes referred to as a BEV, or Battery Electric Vehicle. No wonder some of those fleet managers are confused…

Hybrid Vehicles

Emissions have been a concern for a number of years now and Hybrids were the first vehicles with electrification to reach the mainstream consciousness. As the name suggests it uses a hybrid system of electric motors and internal combustion engine to power the vehicle. The technology for hybrid systems has been around for about 100 years but it’s only recently that the manufacturing costs have fallen to a point where it’s economically viable to mass produce hybrids.

Generally speaking the battery part of a Hybrid system only works while the vehicle is moving at low speed or from standstill. Once the speed reaches a certain limit the engine will takeover and the car works in exactly the same way as a normal car. The battery is then recharged by the engine as you drive.

Driving a hybrid will save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions so there is a real financial benefit to choosing one – depending on how heavy your mileage may be (it won’t beat a diesel if you’re travelling upwards of 15,000 miles a year). On the downside they can be more expensive than a regular car. If you are thinking of leasing a hybrid it may be worth doing a few sums to ensure any additional cost is balanced by the potential savings.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

This is what is technically known as having your cake and eating it. A combination of battery and internal combustion engine but, unlike the hybrid, the battery can be recharged from a mains supply. While they genuinely offer the best of both worlds there are good and bad points to driving a PHEV.

As the engine doesn’t necessarily charge the battery the electric motors can run in conjunction with the engine as well as on their own. Most PHEVs will cite a power figure that combines the two - one of the reasons why there are so many PHEVs boasting hundreds of horsepower - because they are capable of supplementing each other. This means you can get impressive performance from a much smaller engine, and more power means manufacturers can build bigger cars, hence the popularity of PHEV SUVs.

On the downside the electric-only range of a PHEV is much lower than you would find from a dedicated EV. You can expect to get around 30 miles in electric-only mode from a PHEV rather than the 100 miles plus of an EV. The other side of that coin is that the PHEV is more flexible and more efficient over longer distances – there’s less of that range anxiety.

The one thing that you should bear in mind when choosing a PHEV is that in order to get the benefits you need to keep the battery charged and use it in electric mode for local journeys. Many PHEVs give you the option to choose how the hybrid system works via different driving modes. The idea is that you should use the most appropriate setting according to where you are driving. Using the wrong setting isn’t going to harm the car but it might negate any environmental and financial benefits you were hoping to gain.

There is a wide range of electric vehicles on the market today. You can drive a little city car or a seven-seat SUV and still take advantage of the benefits of electric motoring. It’s a rapidly changing, and equally fast-growing sector of the car market. As more manufacturers continue to develop the technology prices will drop and choice will become even wider than it is already.

We offer a huge choice of electric vehicles across all three types as well as consulatation on the suitability of electrification for you or your fleet. Whether you need an EV, Hybrid, or PHEV we have the choice, leasing deals, and expertise to ensure you lease the best car at the best price.

So there you go, confusion sorted!

Why not check out our latest electric car leasing deals here: electric car leasing offers.

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