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5 things to consider when buying an electric car

| In Buying Guides

Manufacturers are constantly unveiling new vehicles and nearly all of them feature an electric or alternatively fuelled variant. This alongside the government’s crackdown on emissions and uncertainty regarding diesel and leading many people to consider electric and hybrids. This blog post explains everything about electric, plug-in hybrids and range extender vehicles, enabling you to make an educated decision on your next car.

Types of EVs / hybrids

EVs can be separated into three different categories, full electric, plug-in hybrids and range extenders.

Full electric – these are vehicles that are solely powered by an electric motor and emit zero emissions.

Plug-in hybrids – these vehicles feature both an electric motor and conventional engine. The car runs like a traditional hybrid, with the electric motor used at low speed before the petrol or diesel engine takes over when the battery has died. The battery is much bigger than in a normal hybrid and therefore capable of longer journeys. The battery can be re-charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric socket.

Range extenders – Range extenders are very similar to plug-in hybrids but with one main difference. When the electric motor runs out of energy, the conventional engine is then used to re-charge the battery. This means that the car’s wheels will always be powered by electricity rather than petrol or diesel.


Driving an electric car is quite different to a normal car. Firstly, they’re silent. Weather it be a fully electric, hybrid or ranger extender, whilst running in electric mode, the car’s engine makes absolutely no sound.

When driving a conventional car, your feet are constantly switching between applying the accelerator, clutch and brake. A fully electric car is much different. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows down far quicker and because they only have 1 gear, it can come to a complete stop.  


Charging an electric car is simple and can be done at home, at some places of work and at most motorway service stations. The most convenient and cost-effective way of charging is at home overnight. It costs around 13p per kWh, meaning to fully charge a 30kWh Nissan Leaf to its 115-mile maximum range will only set you back around £3.60.

If you need to re-charge on the motorway, most services now offer charging and rapid-charging points. These rapid charging points do cost extra, for a 30-minute surge, they can add up to around £6.50. The majority of Plug-in hybrids cannot be charged using rapid charge points, so it is worth taking this consideration if you are planning on doing long journeys.    


Fully electric cars currently have a much shorter range than a vehicle filled with petrol or diesel. The average range of a new electric vehicle is 100 miles, but considering the average UK driver covers 25 miles a day, this is plenty to get you to work and back and the odd trip into town.

A plug-in hybrid has a considerably shorter electric range. The Toyota Prius plug-in for example has a range in excess of 700 miles but only 25 of these in electric only mode. Range extenders are slightly better, the BMW i3 has a 160+ mile combined range, of which around 90 can be covered using only electric.

Running Costs

An electric car or hybrid vehicle can save you a lot of money. All fully electric vehicles emit zero emissions and therefore are not charged for road tax. If the vehicle was registered after 1st April 2017 with a list price of over £40,000, a yearly charge of £310 is applicable until it’s 5 years old. Plug-in hybrids and range extenders also benefit from cheaper tax rates.

Electric cars have fewer parts and have simpler engines, compared to conventional vehicles, therefore servicing and maintenance costs tend to be lower.

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