FAQs: The most commonly asked questions on purchasing a hybrid or electric car

Q: How do I charge an electric vehicle?

A: Charging an electric vehicle only differs slightly from refuelling a petrol or diesel car. There’s still a fuel cap, but instead you will find a charging socket there where you can plug in the connector at home or at a public charging station.

Q: Where can I charge an electric vehicle?

A: You can charge your electric car via a wall box at home, installed professionally via an authorised installer. A respected company will guide you through this process. As well as this, you can charge your car at a public charging station anywhere in the country. The UK’s network of rapid chargers is growing constantly, so you can simply park up and top up wherever you are.

Q: Why do manufacturers recommend charging up to 80% when using a fast or rapid charging point?

A: Once charging is initiated and the car’s battery is warmed up, the flow of kilowatts typically increases to the vehicle’s maximum input. The charger will sustain this rate for as long as possible, though it may drop to a more moderate speed if the vehicle tells the charger to slow down as not to compromise battery life. Once an EV’s battery reaches a certain level of its capacity, usually 80%, charging essentially slows to what would then become Level 2 operation. 

Q: Can the National Grid cope with an increase of electric vehicles on the road?

A: As part of its Future Energy Scenarios report, the National Grid predicted that the increasing use of electric cars may require the grid to deliver an additional 30% of energy compared with existing peak levels. To meet this demand, the grid is expected to work with charging infrastructure and electric vehicles to try to ensure most charging takes place at off-peak times.

Graeme Cooper, Project Director for EVs at the National Grid, explains: “The peak demand on our electrical system was in 2002 and since then we’ve been putting solar panels on our roofs and getting more efficient energy systems, subsequently energy demand has dropped by around 16%. If we all changed to electric vehicles tomorrow it only goes back up about 10%.”

Q: What does it mean to be EVA accredited?

A: Electrical Vehicle Approved (EVA) accreditation is intended to allow EV drivers to easily find retailers that lead the way in electric vehicle customer service. EVA accredited firms are recognised by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) as being experts in the market.

Backed by the UK Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the Energy Saving Trust (EST), EVA accreditation is only approved after sites have been carefully inspected and audited. Assessments cover all areas of customer care, including staff knowledge, technician expertise, charge point availability and overall business standards. A number of Jardine Motors Group dealerships, including Audi Tamworth and Jaguar Land Rover Reading, are EVA accredited.

Q: How long do EV batteries last?

A: High-voltage lithium-ion batteries usually last at least 10 years. In sign of confidence, many brands offer a battery warranty of around 8 years. The trend line currently suggests that the average battery pack could cycle through over 186,000 miles before coming close to 90% capacity.

Q: What does ‘kWh’ and ‘Ah’ mean?

The capacity of most electric car batteries is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), which is essentially the electric equivalent of miles per gallon (mpg). If an electric car’s capacity isn’t specified in kWh, it’ll likely be listed in ampere hours (Ah). Ampere hours measure the charge delivered by the battery, and kilowatt hours measure the energy delivered.