What sort of electric cars can I buy?

There are three types of electric vehicles (EV) that you will most likely come across.

Hybrid vehicles use a combination of electric motors and an internal combustion engine, and the use of these vary depending on the driving conditions. These vehicles can’t be plugged in or recharged, and must be re-filled with petrol or diesel fuel. 

Electrical energy can be captured when braking. In some cases, the petrol engine recharges the batteries used to power the electric motors. Hybrids can achieve ranges of more than 45 miles per gallon (mpg). 

Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) are similar to hybrids, but can be charged by plugging into the main electricity supply. Unlike hybrids, PHEVs can be used in full electric mode - although the range in this mode is usually limited to around 30 miles. 

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) run exclusively on electricity and need to be plugged into the main electricity supply to charge the vehicle up.

Danny and customers

Guernsey Electricity at the Homelife Show 2017


Stuart Blondel, our Head of Asset, has owned an electric car for over a year now and shares his experiences of owning and driving his electric vehicle on Twitter.

"I had heard so much about range anxiety that this was naturally a bit of a concern. However I very quickly got comfortable with the concept of driving my EV with ‘only’ 20 miles estimated range remaining, realising that you can go a long way in Guernsey on 20 miles! Now I make sure I plug the car in when I get home for the day if the state of charge is anything less than 30 miles estimated range. The car will do around 100 miles on a charge and with my driving needs this gives me about 3 days’ worth of driving between charges."

How does the power of an electric vehicle compare to traditional cars?

The power rating of an electric vehicle is measured by kilowatt (kW) rating rather than litres (l) or cubic centimetres (cc) as with petrol or diesel cars. Power output can also be measured in horsepower, where 1 kW is roughly 1.34 horsepower.  The amount of energy an electric car can store is measured in kWh (kilowatt - hour), and is analogous to the size of a petrol or diesel car’s fuel tank. 

When it comes to turning on the power, electric vehicles are like a light bulb. It’s immediate and doesn’t need time to build up like a traditional car – so the acceleration is quicker. It makes for a responsive and enjoyable drive.

How far can you go on a single charge? 

New models have a range of up to 200 miles (such as Tesla Model S and Chevy Bolt), while most current vehicles have an 80 to 100-mile range. In Guernsey, a typical daily mileage is around 14-20 miles so there’s no need to continually charge your car. 

Of course, your driving style and conditions can affect the driving range – as well as the battery size. In a mild climate, you can expect to get more miles from a fully-charged vehicle than on a hot or very cold day. As with traditional cars, there are ways to conserve energy from anticipating stops rather than braking hard to using less of the car’s on-board systems such as heating and entertainment.

Lee and customer

How long does it take to recharge an electric vehicle (BEV) and what’s the cost?

It depends on the power of the charger and battery size, age, and condition of the vehicles. Most electric vehicles have a battery between 14 and 40 kilowatt per hour (kWh being the amount of energy a battery can store per hour, equivalent to one kilowatt).

Charging points for homes typically range from 3kW to 7kW. To calculate the approximate time it takes to recharge from empty, divide the size of the battery by the power of the charger. For example, a 20 kWh BEV charging on a 7kW charging point will take around three hours to ‘refuel’ and cost £3.50 on the standard electricity tariff. If you’re on a Super Economy 12 tariff, during your low-rate times the same car would cost only £1.53 to charge fully.

If your vehicle is charged during off-peak electricity periods (such as 8pm-7am), our experience has shown energy costs are about 1/10th of the cost of fossil fuel (petrol and diesel). It is possible to charge your electric vehicle from a normal mains supply, depending on the vehicle’s exact model. Many manufacturers do provide a charging lead which can be plugged into a 13 Amp socket, however installing a home charging point is recommended as the car will charge much quicker and avoids having dangerous cables trails outside your home.

A home charging point will cost around £750 to purchase and install depending on the model and the location / installation (3 - 7kW). Your electricity usage cost would be the same as if you were using your normal mains supply, but will charge the car much quicker.

Charging point 

In Guernsey, two electric vehicle charging points have been installed along the south wall at the North Beach car park (opposite the White Rock Café) in St Peter Port, including three complementary 10-hour parking spaces available exclusively for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Your electric car will cost approximately £1.50 per hour time interval, with a maximum 3-hour charge time. So, you could get around 21 kWh in three hours for around £4.50 using these 7.2 kW charging points. This video briefly demonstrates how the public charging points work and this helpful Q&A guide will answer some of your questions.

North Beach Charging Point

Photo credit Green Acorn 

When it comes to battery warranties, there are a number of (usually favourable) offers available - with some offering a maximum of 8 years or 100,000 miles depending which event is reached first.  Insurance costs could potentially be higher as companies are unfamiliar with the technology and battery replacement, but battery costs are rapidly falling -  so the associated bill may be reduced substantially by the time the battery needs replacing. Some providers also allow car owners to lease the battery, which reduces the risk. 

Are electric vehicles really cleaner than petrol or diesel cars?

Yes, EVs produce far less pollution on a lifecycle basis. During production, they typically create an extra tone of CO² during production compared to a diesel car - but EVs are much more efficient in operation. It means the carbon output is eventually negated during the operating cycle of the vehicle’s life. Even if the electricity used is from fossil fuel sources, electric vehicles are still mainly energy efficient.

In Guernsey, this picture is even more beneficial as the majority of our electricity is imported via the undersea cable from lower-carbon energy sources in France. This means a significant reduction in emissions and local air pollution.

The benefits of electric vehicles in a snapshot

If you’re considering making the switch to an electric vehicle (EV), you may be put off by some media stories about electric transportation – but are all these concerns justified? Discover more about electric cars.

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