Big changes are coming for automotive manufacturers and the drivers that use their vehicles all over the world. Fossil fuels are on the way out – and have been for some time now – which has been accelerated by many government’s aiming to make petrol and diesel vehicle production illegal within the next decade. This means only one thing: electric vehicles are the future – and the near-future, at that. But, right now, EVs aren’t appreciated by everyone and in fact, many people simply couldn’t own one even if they wanted to. For those that do have the capability to purchase an EV though, how do you decide if it’s the right move before laying down your hard earned cash? Allow us to explain…
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What Is An Electric Car?
Electric cars, or EVs as they’re often known, are the current (and foreseeable) trend within the automotive industry. Rather than using petrol or diesel to fuel an internal combustion engine and power the car, they are totally operated using electricity – from the onboard computer systems to the ‘engine’ itself.
That ‘engine’ is actually a huge battery, replacing the loud, brash combustion engine that we’re used to seeing, hearing and even smelling. This battery allows the car to run almost silently and with zero polluting emissions. Take a closer look at the rear of an electric car and you’ll notice that they don’t even need an exhaust pipe!
EVs are charged entirely through external sources, usually by connecting them to a ‘chargepoint’ like the ones found in growing numbers in car parks around the country. This is where fully electric vehicles differ from some hybrid cars; EVs must be plugged in whereas certain types of hybrid vehicles can generate their own electric power to use alongside their traditional fossil fuel stock.
Types Of Electric Cars
We mentioned in the previous section that EVs differ from hybrid cars… Well, what exactly is a hybrid car and how many different types of these electric vehicles actually are there? Actually, there are quite a few!
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Fully electric, no reliance on fossil fuels whatsoever and must be charged from an external power source. This is the ‘technical’ name for the standard EV that everybody thinks of when they think of an electric car. For a more in-depth explanation, see the previous section.
Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles are a bit like a go-between for those not ready to go fully electric. A gateway car, if you will. These vehicles do have a traditional engine that runs on petrol or diesel, but they also utilise a battery (though one much smaller than a BEV) which can also power the car across shorter distances, usually of 50 miles or less.
That battery can be recharged in exactly the same way as a BEV vehicle’s power bank would be – by plugging it into an external charging point. You can usually choose which power source to use, but they will often start by using electricity and then switch over to traditional fuel once the battery is depleted.
Hybrid electric vehicles, also known as ‘self-charging’ hybrids, are essentially the same as plug-in hybrids. However, as the name suggests, this variant can’t be plugged into an external charging point and instead regenerates its own electricity to charge an on-board battery.
This means that the battery can only hold a very small amount of electric charge that will run out fast, before the engine kicks in and you start burning fossil fuel once more. But, if you want some of the benefits of an electric car without having to sit at a charging station every day, this could be the type of EV for you.
Mild Hybrid (MHEV)
The manufacturers of these vehicles are pushing their luck a bit, because there’s not much ‘hybrid’ about them. In a nutshell, these are petrol or diesel cars that do have a tiny onboard battery that offers very limited support to the vehicle’s performance and efficiency. It’s not possible to drive using entirely electrical power, meaning you will always be reliant on traditional fuel.
Range-extended electric vehicles are already in danger of becoming a relic of the past. These cars are not simply EVs with bigger batteries – although those do exist – but rather are electric cars that actually use a small, traditionally-fuelled engine to recharge the battery. They’ve been discontinued in the UK already, and we can only imagine the strange looks you’d get when pulling your EV up to a petrol pump…
Fuel Cell (FCEV)
Now for something a bit different – these cars are powered by hydrogen! It might seem like it goes against everything you know regarding these elements, but hydrogen and oxygen can mix together to generate electricity, which these cars then harness to power their batteries.
Electricity vs water could be a summary of the latest superhero blockbuster, but in this case electricity is dominating. In fact, hydrogen cars haven’t even gotten off the ground yet; the only model available in the UK is the Toyota Mirai, which means there’s minimal need for any kind of refuelling infrastructure. Maybe one day we’ll see electric vehicles being replaced by water-powered cars!
Difference Between Fuel Powered Car vs Electric Car
Besides the glaringly obvious, there are some significant differences between vehicles that run on fossil fuels with an internal combustion engine and those that are powered by electricity. Time to break them down:
For many people, price is the single most important factor that determines which car they buy, despite it being the very first hurdle to face when browsing the forecourts. However, that barrier is considerably lower when you look at the ICE (internal combustion engine) market as opposed to the EV market.
That’s because traditional fossil fuel vehicles are still much cheaper than their electric counterparts. This is down to the technology involved – or rather, how new it is – and the difficulty in acquiring the materials to actually build the vehicle’s components in the first place.
We all know that petrol and diesel has never been cheap, but in recent years the cost of a full tank has reached heights that are quite literally forcing people to ditch their cars and find other ways of getting from A to B. These eye-watering, soul-crushing prices are the bane of many driver’s lives at the time of writing and it shows no sign of changing for the better any time soon. So having an EV must be cheaper, right?
Well, it certainly was cheaper to own an EV. If you had patience, you could leave your car at the charge point of your local supermarket for a few hours and replenish your battery for the grand total of £0.00! In fact, even if you wanted your car ‘rapid-charged’ you were still looking at perhaps around £10 to get the same amount of ‘fuel’ that £40 or £50 would give you in an ICE car.
But, all good things must come to an end, and with the ‘cost of living crisis’ came exorbitant increases to the price of electricity, leading to EV charging fees that were almost on a par with petrol and diesel prices and to those same supermarkets implementing a price for what was their free, slow charging service! Will the cost of charging an EV reduce again? Possibly. Will it always remain cheaper (if only slightly) than fueling a traditional car? Almost certainly.
Right, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: range anxiety. Despite the fact that they’ve only been on the market for a relatively short period of time, every man and his dog seems to know that EVs suffer from terrible long-distance performance, especially when compared with traditional cars.
A growing, but still inadequate lack of infrastructure for charging EVs combined with naturally low travel ranges that can fluctuate wildly based on everything from whether you have the radio on in the car to the weather outside means that electric vehicles simply aren’t suitable for those who live in remote or even, in some cases, suburban areas. In fact, even those who live in inner-city locations – typically the ideal place for EV usage – might struggle if they don’t have a driveway or garage to install their own private charging point.
Range anxiety is an unfortunate byproduct of that problem and results in many drivers spending less time enjoying the comfort of their flashy, modern motor and more time with their eyes glued to the range indicator on the dashboard, sweating over whether or not they’ll make it to the next service station, and even whether the charge points will be working when they get there!
Petrol stations on the other hand are absolutely everywhere and while the motorway services might rob you blind, you know that they’re there in an emergency. For practicality and peace of mind, internal combustion is still king.
The massive uptick in the number of people getting their car on finance means that many of those modern vehicles on the road will simply be handed back to the dealership once they’re paid off in exchange for whatever is new again. But what happens to the cars that people hold onto for more than five or six years?
Petrol or diesel cars tend to have a lifespan of about 14 years before they’re scrapped, but even then, it’s usually because something has gone drastically wrong with some important mechanical parts or they’ve been involved in an accident and it’s no longer worth repairing them. However, many cars do, of course, live on much longer than that. This is possible because good maintenance allows you to keep the parts in your car working and from suffering catastrophic failures. Changing the odd worn out component here or there can be affordable and keep the car going, giving ICE vehicles good longevity.
EVs, on the other hand, have suffered some bad press in this department recently. It came to light that most electric vehicle batteries have a lifespan of about 10 years. “So what?” you may ask, “an internal combustion engine can give out after the same period of time.” While that’s very true, the cost of a new engine is typically around £5,000. The price of a new EV battery is usually double that, at least. In fact, it’s such a costly (and difficult) job that most electric vehicle owners effectively write off their own car when the lithium-ion battery finally dies and buy a brand new motor instead!
This one should be fairly self-explanatory. Digging up and processing oil from the earth which we then burn inside our cars and pump back out as toxic fumes is very bad. Petrol and diesel cars have had an absolutely tragic impact on the environment, so much so that world governments are beginning to ban the production of them, starting in the near future.
Electric vehicles are zero emission, which means that the energy they use to power themselves is totally renewable and clean, releasing absolutely no fumes back into the atmosphere. These cars don’t release much of anything, in fact – not even noise, as anyone who’s ever tried to cross a road around one can attest to.
There is a bit of a dark secret behind EV environmental impact, though, and many people have their own opinion on whether it’s better or worse than what ICE cars do to the world… Electric vehicles are powered by lithium-ion batteries. The materials used to make these batteries can only be obtained by mining it. Not only are the practices used to obtain this material allegedly in violation of many human rights laws, many believe that the carbon footprint of the production of an EV is equal to the carbon footprint of a petrol or diesel car throughout its entire life.
In other words, all the mining and production required to build an electric car does more damage to the environment than 10-plus years of driving your battered old Ford Fiesta combined! The other camp of people who oppose this view argue that, while it’s true that the battery production is very harmful, the years of use that the EV will have afterwards will offset this, making electric cars better for the planet than ICE vehicles in the long run. We’ll let you do your own research and come to your own conclusions on this point.
As anybody who’s ever owned a car before knows all too well, there are a whole host of other fees that come with the experience. You’ll need to tax it, insure it, MOT it, maintain it…
Well, if you get an EV, you won’t have to do all of those things. Electric vehicles are currently tax free, thanks to their zero emission capabilities. You might also find that, since the EV market is relatively young, that you’ll not need to MOT your car for a while – new vehicles don’t need to be MOT’d until they are three years old, but this does also apply to ICE cars, too. Then there’s maintenance, which can be a real hassle, although it’s likely to be more problematic if you drive a petrol or diesel car.
In one of those, you’ll need to deal with oil changes, wear and tear from moving metal parts, and a multitude of tiny components that could go wrong… Of course, EVs aren’t immune to mechanical problems of their own, but there is a lot less that can break in them, and a lot more that can simply be fixed with a software update.
Benefits Of Electric Vehicles
While some drivers wouldn’t touch an EV with a 10-foot pole, there are some benefits that simply cannot be denied. For starters, electric vehicle owners don’t need to pay tax; thanks to the lack of any toxic emissions, there’s no charge for driving one of these cars anywhere in the UK. Of course, that includes major cities and even London’s dreaded ULEZ, a major headache for anyone still driving an older, gas guzzling vehicle. There’s also the fact that these cars are cheaper to power than ICE vehicles. A full electrical charge can cost a fraction of the price of a full tank of petrol or diesel!
Looking at the bigger picture though, the most significant benefit of electric vehicles is the environmental impact… or lack of. With no carbon emissions billowing out of the rear of these cars, there’s minimal need for concern around the damage you’re doing to the planet just by running the vehicle. You can drive from one place to the next without leaving any kind of carbon footprint behind.
Is It Worth It To Switch To An Electric Car?
At the time of writing, this question is one that does not have a definitive answer. Some people swear by EVs and would never, ever go back to a petrol or diesel car, whereas others vow to never buy one of these battery powered contraptions for as long as they live. Ultimately, it depends on your own personal situation.
Do you live in a city with charging points all over the place, the capability to conveniently charge at home and the need to keep your emissions low to avoid paying extra road tax and charges? Then an EV is probably the right car for you.
Do you live in the countryside, need a tough vehicle that will cut through mud and snow like it’s not even there or one that can travel cross-country on a daily basis? You’re probably best off waiting a few more years for the technology to improve further and the UK’s EV infrastructure to develop.
Get The Best Price For Your Car
Has this blog post convinced you to switch, whether that’s ICE to EV or vice versa? Scrap Car Comparison can help you sell your petrol, diesel or electric vehicle no matter where in the UK you live. Using just your postcode and vehicle registration, we’ll track down the best offers for your car from scrap and salvage buyers positioned in your local area. Once you accept an offer, we’ll even arrange for your car to be collected and removed at absolutely no cost to yourself! So, give us a call on 03333 44 99 50 or use our scrap car price calculator to get a quote for your old vehicle now.