Wondering about the absolute basics of getting an electric car? Here’s a beginner’s guide to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Most models cost between €35,000 and €55,000, after the government grant of €5,000 is deducted. The best-selling electric car is Volkswagen’s ID4, which starts at just over €50,000. The cheapest new model on the market is the MG4, which costs from €27,500 while high-end expensive models include Tesla’s Model S (from €91,000) or Audi’s e-tron GT (from €106,000).
Because of supply shortages, a one-year-old, second-hand electric car is typically now as expensive as a new model. For example, a one-year-old Volkswagen ID3 with 20,000km on the clock typically costs around the same as a brand new version of the car (€42,000). Older Nissan Leafs are generally available from around €15,000, although these will often have much shorter ranges of between 80km and 100km.
Is there a supply shortage?
Yes. At present, it’s normal to wait anywhere from three to nine months between ordering a car and taking delivery of it.
How long does the battery last in an electric car?
Most manufacturers guarantee that the battery will have a minimum reserve of 70pc charge left up to eight years after purchase. Depending on how much the car is used, and how it’s charged, a driver can expect anywhere between 1pc and 4pc of battery degradation per year.
Can I replace the battery?
Yes, although it costs in the region of €8,000 to €10,000.
What is a typical range on an electric car?
It depends on the size of the battery and the weight of the car. A small model such as Fiat’s 500 Electric starts with an advertised range of 185km from its 23kw battery. A mid-range model such as Volkswagen’s ID3 will get around 350km from its 58kw battery. A high-end Tesla Model S should get around 500km or more.
Will using the heater reduce the car’s range?
Yes. Because there’s no engine to provide passively warm air, the heater draws on the battery, typically reducing its range by around 5pc. Things like headlights, wipers or the radio don’t have anything like the same drain.
Does anything else reduce the car’s range?
The main one is speed. If you drive at 120kph on a motorway for more than a portion of your trip, you’ll reduce your car’s stated range by even more than the heater would do. So driving from Dublin to Cork, for example, will use up far more of your car’s stated range than the actual 260km distance between the two cities would suggest.
Can I trust car companies’ advertised ranges?
Only loosely. If you mostly drive at between 30kph and 80kph, and go easy on the acceleration pedal, you’ll usually get something close to what the advertised range is. If your habit is to accelerate quickly (electric cars generally accelerate more powerfully than petrol or diesel cars) or you’re driving at high speed on motorways a lot, you can expect to get something much less than the advertised range.
What does ‘much less’ mean?
On a cross-country trip with 70km of motorway and about 200km of primary roads (with a 100kph speed limit), I have typically observed around 20pc less than the advertised range if I’m driving at the speed limits available.
Where can you recharge the car?
At home using an installed home charger, or at a public charging point.
How long does it take to charge the car?
At a public charging point, it can take anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours, depending on whether it’s a fast or slow charger. Of the 1,700 public charging points in the country, less than 400 are deemed to be fast, capable of giving you a charge of at least 50pc within 45 minutes. At home, a standard installed charger should take no more than a couple of hours to fully charge your car, depending on the size of the battery. (If you use a three-pin charger and a wall plug, as you can, it takes anything from 15 to 24 hours.)
Is it true that you shouldn’t charge it to 100pc?
The general advice for most electric cars is to try and maximise your charge shy of 100pc. Experts say that, due to the chemistry of batteries, charging to 100pc can accelerate the battery’s degradation.
How much does a home charger cost?
Typically around €1,200. There’s a €600 state grant still available (through the SEAI) towards that cost. You don’t need planning permission or any other regulatory clearance for one. However, if your home has an electric shower, your electricity may struggle to do both tasks fully at the same time.
What if I live in an apartment or a terraced house in a street with no driveway?
You’ll need to rely on public chargers.
How many public chargers are there?
The government’s figure of 1,700 doesn’t take into account Tesla’s ‘Superchargers’, which are available at six individual locations around the country. It also doesn’t include other partially-available charging points, such as those that may be available as a customer service in supermarket or hotel car parks.
How much do they cost to use?
They cost between 50 and 68 cents per kilowatt, depending on whether it’s a slow, standard or fast charge, and also depending on whether you have a monthly standing charge or not. That translates into a cost of about €30 for a mid-range Volkswagen ID3 to get from 10pc to 80pc on a fast charger. It’s always much cheaper to charge at home.
How is an electric car different from a plug-in hybrid car?
A plug-in hybrid car (Phev) has a much smaller battery – under 20KW – with a typical electric range of between 40km and 65km. (For the rest, it uses a petrol tank and engine.) It also generally charges much more slowly than a full electric car.
To hear the Irish Independent podcast on electric cars for beginners, download or stream today’s episode of The Big Tech Show from any podcast platform.
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