Questions and Answers

What is an Electric vehicle (EV)?

An electric vehicle is a vehicle which is partially or wholly powered by electric power. There are various types manufactured. Firstly there are battery electric vehicles (BEV) which rely on 100% electricity for their energy source.  They must be plugged into an electrical socket to recharge their batteries.  Like all EV’s, they have regenerative braking which helps to recharge the batteries.  There are between about 50 models to choose from in the UK.  A second type of electric vehicle is the PHEV - Plug In Hybrid Electric vehicle. This vehicle has an electric motor combined with a petrol engine and fuel tank.  The engine or generator acts as a back up to extend the range of the vehicle. It has a smaller battery than a pure electric vehicle and therefore a shorter range.  (These two  types are also referred to as 'plugins') 
A third type is a Hybrid Electric Vehicle which has an electric motor and petrol engine which can simultaneously drive the wheels. This type of vehicle cannot be plugged in. Depending on driving style, this vehicle will operate in electric or petrol mode.  The most energy efficient of all options is the Pure Electric vehicle, some of which can do the equivalent of nearly 200 miles per gallon.  There  is a choice for every Channel islander. 

How practical are they for the Channel Islands?  

Our tiny size islands lend themselves perfectly to electric vehicle technology. In fact, it's hard to imagine any other automotive technology better suited to our islands.  Typically, electric vehicles have a range of around 70 miles to 90 miles in real world driving conditions but new models achieve around 150 to 200 miles per charge or more.  The average drivers covers less than 15 miles per day.  Businesses can benefit by reducing their costs and on a practical every day basis, EV’s are very user friendly.  Electric vehicles are much more energy efficient than standard petrol/diesel engine drivetrains. A standard vehicle is around 25% efficient! In other words for every £1 of fuel that goes in the tank, only 25 pence goes towards moving the wheels. The rest is energy lost through the drivetrain, friction from the brakes and heat through the engine and exhaust system.  With no engine to warm up, electric vehicles provide instant power, making them much more efficient for stop and start journeys where the engine may not even have time to warm up before reaching its destination. Furthermore when an electric vehicle is stationery, there is no engine running idle, burning fuel or emissions! 

What is it like to drive an Electric vehicle?


Pure electric or Battery electric cars  share some similarities to cars with auto transmission,  in so far as there is no clutch or manual gearbox but the driving is smoother as they usually only need a single gear, giving very even acceleration and deceleration for a smooth ride. With an electric motor, full power is available from the first instance, making these vehicles really nippy.  A noticeable difference when driving an EV is use of the brake and accelerator pedals. Compared to a conventional vehicle, where the fuel has to be pumped through the engine, only a light touch is needed on the accelerator to produce power and acceleration.  This also applies to the brakes. With regenerative braking, the electric motor acts as a generator turning braking energy into stored battery energy so except for sudden stops, little effort is needed to apply the brakes. EV's are also quiet, with no pistons, camshaft or rocker under the bonnet so there is no engine noise. On depressing the accelerator, an EV initially moves very quietly.  From the inside it appears to be almost silent but there is a distinct whirring sound audible from the exterior which picks up as the vehicle accelerates. Most electric vehicles have excellent acceleration and high torque (especially at lower speeds) and are more than capable of holding their own in island driving conditions.  Some electric cars like the Renault Twizy and microcar are classed as quadricycles and go a maximum of 50mph.


What is the performance like of an electric vehicle go?


With  so much torque, an electric car  can accelerate very quickly. An electric car broke the record for the fastest accelerating car in the world, achieving 0-62 mph in 1.779 seconds in 2015.  However top speed of most models (except performance cars like Tesla Motors and the BMWi8) is usually under 100 mph.  The Formula E series is an all electric alternative to Formula 1 for high performance racing.


What is the environmental impact of electric vehicles?


All vehicles have a carbon footprint but a pure electric or battery electric vehicle has a considerably lower one on a lifecycle basis as it produces no tailpipe emissions, i.e. carbon emissions during use and has much lower carbon footprint for local use.  Research by independent bodies has shown that even when an electric vehicle is measured against a combustion engine vehicle and the EV is powered from electricity sourced from an oil fired power station, it is still more energy efficient but when the source of energy becomes renewable, its energy efficiency increases massively.  It is the only type of vehicle that gets greener over time. Of equally important note though, is that fossil fuel vehicles release toxic fumes at street level which affects air quality. 100% electric vehicles release no fumes so there is real benefit to improving air quality for everyone in the community when more people drive EV's relative to combustion engine vehicles.


Can I save money driving an electric vehicle?


Yes but depending on the mileage driven,  your fuel bills will be much lower than a standard oil burning vehicle so for example someone using their vehicle for business or as part of a vehicle fleet could make substantial accumulative savings, depending on fuel prices.  Your only fuel costs will be the cost of the electricity to charge your vehicle. Charging at home on current electricity tariffs will cost around £3 per charge or less using night time economy mode.  A typical driver will usually charge once or twice per week.  Using renewable solar power may reduce your fuel bills to zero.

What kind of range can I expect?


Most new vehicles for 2017 have a range of at least 100 miles minimum in real world conditions whereas first generation models will have a range between 50 and 100 miles depending on model. Quadricycles such as the Renault Twizy have a range of about 40 miles. Still adequate for the vast majority of islanders’ daily drive.


How often do you have to service an EV and what does it costs?


Once a year or every two years varying according to make and model. On average servicing costs are around 20% less than a standard combustion vehicle.  A modern electric drivetrain is much simpler than a modern gasoline one, with parts counts that are tens or hundreds of times smaller. A hybrid is a little more complicated due to the additional onboard generator/engine. 


Where can I try or buy an electric vehicle?


Electric vehicles are available from most of the mainstream brand dealers but some may be subject to special order. The leading manufacturers by numbers of models built are Renault and Nissan but others include Mitsubishi, Toyota, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Mercedes and Tesla.  In addition there are a number of smaller lesser known makes for private and commercial use. is an excellent source of data.

Your local dealer may be able to assist but if not contact GEVI and we will put you in touch with someone who can arrange a test drive


Where can I charge an EV?


Most EV owners opt to install an electric charging point at their home, either in a garage or in a suitable position on a wall near the driveway.   It is possible to charge most EV’s using a 3 pin socket but you can also fit a special 16 or 32 amp wall charger This also provides a faster charge. This will entail fitting a dedicated circuit. It is recommended to get an electrician to check your household supply especially for an older house.  


How long does it take to charge the batteries?

4 hours approximately on a fast charge or around 10 hours with a 3 pin plug.  A rapid charger will take 20-30 minutes to charge up to 80% full.     


How can I get a charging point installed at my home?

Any qualified electrician should be able to fit a power point.  It's possible to use a domestic 3 pin socket but if the property is very old with sub standard electrics, one should get the installation checked and assessed first  as EV's can draw a high load for a long period. A type 2 socket is useful for faster charging. (Sarnia Electrical or  evonestop) You can also have a tethered lead which provides a neater and safer appearance than a trailing lead. Under no circumstances should an extension lead be used to charge an electric vehicle. 


How much does  an EV cost? 


Small secondhand EV's from around 2011 are available from around £4,500 and go up to £70K + for a Tesla Model S.  Generally Hybrid electrics and PHEV’s will be less to purchase on the road compared to pure electrics but this is changing as battery costs become lower. See models to choose from at the gallery or research your next vehicle at; 


How much does it cost to charge?


On economy tariff from Guernsey Electricity, £3- £4


What is a battery lease?


Some makes and models come with battery leases which means the car company own the battery but guaratee to replace it if fails to replenish 75% of its charge. The lease rates are set according to the mileage driven and are in the region of £35 to £60 per month.  More and more companies are are offering contract hire and lease purchase options in place of outright ownership.


What about  the availability of commercial electric vehicles ?


Renault and Nissan are the leading supplier of pure electric vans up a to a payload of around 3 tons including taxi minicabs. There are several other small providers of electric city vans and waste carts etc. Vehicles with  electric drivetrains can help reduce fleet running costs substantially over a period of years as well as reducing air pollution at community level.


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