A Beginners guide to Electric cars

Although this is a comprehensive beginners guide to Electric cars, more detailed information on all the subjects below can be found across our website.


Living with an Electric car is very different to a petrol or diesel one. Most people understandably assume they need one with the same range as they are used to.

Instead of focusing on minimising the number of trips to petrol stations and the time needed to fill-up, as you’re not pouring fuel into the car you would aim to top-up when you are doing something else, sleeping for example!

Too expensive

81% say electric cars are too expensive

Indeed Electric cars currently cost more than equivalent petrol or Diesel cars, however the prices will be reducing as the total number manufactured increases. Electricity is dramatically cheaper than Petrol and Diesel and there are reduced taxes plus grants available.

Reduced taxation, Grants and Exemptions

The Government offers reduced taxation, e.g. Car tax (VED) and Benefit in Kind (BiK) and several grants when buying an Electric vehicle.

For example the Plug-in Car grant is available for vehicles costing up to £35,000.

There is a Home charging grant to contribute towards the cost of an off-road charger at home.

Electric cars are exempt from the London Congestion charge and will attract lower charges from clean air zones being implemented around the UK and London’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

Also free parking for electric vehicles is available in some towns and cities.

If you live in Scotland, an interest-free electric vehicle loan and used electric vehicle loan are available.

Total Cost of Ownership

Also the Total Cost of Ownership, particularly how much cheaper it is for electricity than for Petrol or Diesel use and reduced servicing should be taken into consideration.

Battery life

An OFGEM survey noted that Short Battery life is a major concern, it should be noted that most manufacturers give a Battery warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles, some even more.

In practice batteries are lasting longer than that, with minimal degradation due to improving Battery Management Systems (BMS).

Batteries can generally be replaced with a Refurbished one or upgraded.

Usage profile

Range and Charging time

77% believe an EV won’t go as far on a single charge as a petrol/diesel car on a full tank and are concerned about the time it takes to charge. These are understandable concerns, and probably will be the case for a long time.

Consider your usage profile, how often do you do more than 150 miles in a day?

  • If your answer is ‘Rarely’ then why pay for a more expensive car than you actually need? The manufactures charge much more to those who want a high range!

Charging Electric cars is different than Petrol or Diesel, where the objective is to make the minimum number of visits to petrol stations. As the driver must attend the fuelling the time to fill -up must also be minimal.

This difference is most visible where the driver has access to Home charging, which enables charging whilst being at home and sleeping. In which case the duration of the charge is of minimal consequence.

There are many other situations where the driver, and passengers, can be doing something else whilst charging. This could include working in an office or warehouse; stopping for coffee or visiting a tourist attraction.

Charging locations

There are already more charging points than Petrol stations and they are appearing in a very wide array of places, from Home to Supermarkets, Coffee shops, at work, in Streets and National Trust properties.

The number of chargers are increasing every day.

Charging at or near Home

A further third (32 per cent) said they liked the idea of charging at home because they ‘find going to the petrol station a chore’ – an issue that was more prominent with women (40 per cent) than men – and more than half (62 per cent) like the idea of waking up to a full battery. 

50% never heard of Home charge point grant, which is worth £300 if the vehicle, installer and various other limitations are complied with.

Many are worried about having nowhere to charge up their EV close to home. Not everyone has their own Driveway, so there are subsidies for Apartments / Flats.

Local councils are being encouraged to provide Charging points in Car parks and streets with grants from the Government.

There are now booking services available for using chargers made available by other drivers .

Charging on longer journeys

An occasional ‘expensive’ charge, becomes insignificant when the total charging costs across months are considered, and even more so when you compare with the cost of Petrol or Diesel. There are so many cheap or even free places to charge, even better if you can charge at home.

Some charging networks have a poor reputation for lack of reliability and / or the need to use their cards of Apps, fortunately this situation is now improving.

Free public charging is available at a number of destinations including Supermarkets and destinations including visitor attractions and hotels.

New Electric forecourts are being developed with large numbers of chargers, being supplied with Renewable electricity, and a selection of retail services and a lounge.

Flat EV Battery

When considering their first purchase of an Electric car many people are concerned about the possibility of the battery running out of charge on their journey in the same way as if they were running out of Petrol. The breakdown companies are preparing themselves for such scenarios.

Choice of models

22% (2) felt that the current choice of electric vehicles would prevent them from buying.

The choice of Electric car models is increasing rapidly. There are at least 84 currently on the market, and there are expected to be 150 by the end of 2021.

Grid management

Some people wonder if the Electricity Grid will be able to cope with vast numbers of Electric vehicles charging. Demand currently varies dramatically during a day and so does the supply from Renewable energy so the National Grid is using Time management to level out these imbalances.

Hence electricity can now be purchase with a cheap overnight rate or in half-hourly blocks. On some nights it may even be free.

Electric cars have the ability to select which times to charge, many can controlled be controlled from an App on a Smart phone.

Environmental concerns

Understandably there are concerns about the environmental impact in production of EV batteries, however the environmental impact of importing the oil to produce Petrol and Diesel are rarely reported alongside them.


(1)Survey carried out for the AA during March 2021

(2) Regit Survey

(3) OFGEM Survey