Electric Vehicles

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Is an Electric Vehicle REALLY Practical Today?

There is as much Dis-Information about Electric Vehicles as there is solid information.

If you haven't owned one or driven one, this might help you understand these better.

We have had over 3 years experience driving fully electric vehicles, either in Ireland or in Europe, from rented Renault Zoe BEV's in France, to family members owning Renault Zoe's and Nissan Leaf's, to owning a Low Spec Tesla Model S in Ireland and now a new Tesla Model X.

Here is our takeaway from this - BE WARNED! THIS IS ONLY OUR OPINION - We are totally open to correction here. (And we're a bit biased now!)

It's like going from an old Nokia to an iPhone

Driving a modern EV is like stepping into the future. The best way I can describe it is to liken it to transitioning from an old Nokia Phone to an Apple iPhone.

We were all a bit miffed when our new shiny smart phones barely lasted a day on a full charge, after we were used to a Nokia lasting a week or more.

Now, it's just an accepted fact of life and very few of us would go back to using the older phones.

This is the way of an EV - sure you have to re-fuel (charge) a little more often, but the benefits far, far outweigh that small issue.

Fit a Home Charge Point - Refuel at Home

Unless you bought a short range EV, fitting a home charge point is pretty essential.

Our Tesla would take nearly 2 days to charge on a 13 Amp plug!

By fitting a home charge point, that reduces to about 7 hours and can be sheduled to use only night rate electricty.

Charge Costs and Savings

We are lucky in Ireland in that we use 240V Electricty and can use night rate meters. A 100% charge from empty on the Model S on night rate costs about €6.30 + VAT and that takes you 340 Km, more modern cars are even more efficient.

Working this back to our last diesel car - 1000 Km in the Tesla costs €23.25 inc VAT - the same 1000 Km in our last diesel cost €78.00 - that's €54.75 per 1000 Km of a saving.

If you do 20,000 Km per annum, this is a MINIMUM saving of €1100 per year - that's the cost of car insurance or more per annum.

It's Actually Much Cheaper

This does NOT take into account the many, many locations where charging is still absolutely free - either on ESB e-Cars slow chargers or for us on the Tesla Superchargers which are free to use for the life of our vehicle.

And it gets even better

The savings take no account of significantly reduced servicing costs: NO - oil, filters, timing belts / chains, clutches, gearboxe etc - all absent from an EV, PLUS normal brake pad wear reduced by 1/2 or more.

Our actual cost per kilometer is a fraction of what we calculated above in reality.

Fully Electric or Hybrid?

Hybrid Vehicles (No real Experience)

We have NO experience of owning any hybrid whatsoever, other than hiring one last year. Based on that VERY limited experience, we were less than impressed - vehicle was OK (just) when it had battery power, but utterly under-powered when the battery ran out. Compromised was the best way we could describe it at the time and quite hard on fuel as it turned out

Perhaps this was just that particular vehicle, however it did turn us completely off the whole concept at the time.

Fully Electric Vehicles

Fully electric vehicles have come a LONG way in a short time, with the latest Fully Electric vehicles from Tesla achieving 610 Km on a single charge (WLTP) or 440 Km from Hyundai and Kia.

Couple this with insane acceleration and really fast charging and all the reasons (apart from initial cost) why you wouldn't drive one are negated.

Some Points ABout EV's:

  • No BIK on the first €50,000 value of the car
  • €120 Road tax
  • 50% reduction on road tolls (A little un-clear at present)
  • SEAI Grant for home charging point and €5000 SEAI grant towards EV Purchase price
  • 8 Year warranty on most battery and drive trains
  • Tesla batteries are lasting between 400,000 and 750,000 Km
  • No Oil Changes, No Fuel Filters, No Timing belts or chains, No engine service costs at all
  • Fuel bills drop to 1/3 of anything else, or maybe even less
  • Start every day with a full tank of fuel without ever visiting a garage
  • Really smart technology in most fully electric vehicles
  • A much simpler drive train and system - about 2000 to 3000 fewer moving parts than a conventional vehicle.

Buy the CORRECT EV

Buying the correct EV is very important as getting this wrong will only lead to frustration and disappointment.

If you are a 2 car family, where one car solely does the school runs, shopping or local runs every day, then an EV like the first generation Nissan Leaf or Renault ZOE is absolutely fine for that and makes total sense. It will save you a small fortune doing just that.

Trying to make that same car go from Donegal to Kerry is only going to frustrate you - it will do it, but you'll have to accept frequent and long charging sessions and a whole ton of range anxiety on the trip.

Equally, unless you are a multi-millionaire, there is little point buying a long range Tesla Model S for school runs and local only trips - the economics will never stack up as that car is totally capable of doing the Donegal to Kerry run on a single charge. It would actually make it half way back on that single charge alone.

So be sensible in your expectations, research your EV properly and when it comes to range, reduce the sticker range by about 10% and you won't go far wrong.

Charging, Range and Myths

Electric vehicles are Slow - False

Fully Electric vehicles are fabulous to drive, combining instant torque and power delivery with a smoothness that is un-equalled.

There is zero lag when you put your foot on the accelerator and when you lift off, re-generative braking slows you down really smoothly, while putting power back in the battery.

This all goes for a very refined and stress free drive, one in which you'll rarely use your brakes, never have to worry about having enough acceleration and do it all with little or no noise or vibration.

Range Anxiety

Range anxiety disappears after a few weeks of ownership as you get comfortable with the vehicles capabilities, but you will also have to get used to doing a little planning for your trip to ensure you can get a charge at the appropriate times.

There aren't enough Chargers - False

We are really lucky in Ireland to have a decent charging infrastructure that sees very few areas of the country where you will be without access to a public charger.

There are numerous charging networks in Ireland,

  • Tesla Superchargers for Tesla only
  • Ionity Superfast Chargers for all cars
  • ESB e-Cars for all cars (1100 + and growing)
  • EasyGo Chargers for all cars
  • There are a few others as well, not to mention 100's of so called destination chargers available for public use.

    Charging takes hours - False

    Charging times on the road runs about than 30 to 40 minutes maximum in the Tesla (2016 base specification Model S 70, 2 wheel drive) and with a useable range of 340 Km at motorway speeds, with lights, heating, wipers and autopilot all on, you can literally go anywhere in the country at will.

    Using the heater Kills the battery - False

    This might have been true of first generation cars from years ago. It's not a real issue now and you'll see only a slight impact on your range in cold weather - this is mainly due to the battery itself being cold and not so much from using the heaters / wipers / lights.

    List of some Fully Electric Vehicles

    These are OUR thoughts and findings from using an electric vehicle and may not reflect what others will find in different circumstances.

    Talk to EV Owners

    Talk to other EV owners about their experiences and what it's really like to own one.

    The supposed compromises are far less than you imagine and the upsides are enormous.

    Most EV owners you talk to would never go back (to an internal combustion engine vehicle) and this must surely say something about them.