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Want to go green? Here's what you need to know about owning an electric vehicle in 2020

From parking to range anxiety, motoring expert Dave Humphreys gives the lowdown on owning an EV – and what it will cost you.

Image: Shutterstock/guteksk7

WHAT’S SO DIFFERENT about driving an electric vehicle?

In some ways the answer is ‘everything’. But in other ways, modern EVs are every bit as ‘normal’ as the car you may currently be driving – albeit with some added benefits. 

First off, the driving experience. All new EVs feature automatic transmissions, generally with a single gear. That means not only do you get the ease of driving an automatic, but it is also much smoother. There is far less vibration, and the electric motor is quieter, making it a more relaxing experience overall.

How much range do I need?

With the latest EV models, the driving range varies from a little over 200 kilometres to more than 600 kilometres in some cases, meaning so-called range-anxiety is no longer the issue it once was. 

Almost all models will clearly display how much battery charge is remaining, and this will adjust depending on how you drive, so there’s no reason to get caught out once you’ve done some basic planning. (It’s worth noting that the average daily commute in the EU is less than 30 kilometres.)

When deciding whether to go for an EV, it’s important to consider that the battery range will fluctuate during the year, as colder weather in winter can reduce range slightly. 

Source: Shutterstock/Daniel Krason

But what about maintenance – do they cost a lot to keep running?

Another massive advantage of driving an electric vehicle is that maintenance costs can reduce significantly.

With fewer moving parts and no need for engine oil changes, it’s only consumables such as tyres that will be your biggest outlay and most EVs only require an annual safety inspection.

Currently, electric vehicles also fall under the lowest rate of annual motor tax, at €120 per annum and some motorway tolls are reduced for EVs. If you’re using one as a company car, providing it costs under €50,000 there is no benefit in kind (BIK) due. 

What’s the story with grants?

At present, there are substantial grants in place to help make some EVs more affordable, and in most cases these amount up to €10,000 off the original cost of the new vehicle.

Keep in mind though that in almost all cases, the advertised on-the-road (OTR) price you see is after the grants have been applied. (These are only applied once when the vehicle is first registered and do not apply to used cars.)

Once you buy your EV, you can also apply for a grant of up to €600 for the purchase and installation of a home charger unit for your car. There are some terms and conditions – namely, you must be a private owner and there must be off-street parking, either in a driveway or garage. The vehicle must also be registered to the same address. 

There is an growing number of professionals offering installation services for home chargers, who will be able to assist with the process in case you’re unsure.

How much does charging at home cost?

Being able to charge at home is one of the key criteria for getting an electric car. While the public charging network is continually improving here in Ireland, it’s good practice to treat your typical driving as if there were no public chargers at all. For example, can you get from home to work and back, along with running a few errands, and then home again without needing to plug in? If yes, then you’re a prime candidate for an EV. 

Source: Shutterstock/ganzoben

Many EV owners who charge at home decide to switch their energy tariff to a night rate, as typically the car is being charged overnight while you sleep. If you do enough annual mileage, this will save you more on your energy bills in the long run.

And what does it cost? Well, the cost of home charging will vary slightly depending on the model you have and how large its battery is, but on average most EVs cost around €3-€4 to charge at home – which is a fraction of what it would cost to fuel a petrol or diesel car.  

What about the public charging network?

Of course, there will be times when you will need to use public charge points, and this network is being continually expanded and improved. All public charging is first-come, first-served, but there are several useful apps like Zap-Map that can show with relative accuracy whether a charge point is unoccupied. 

Presently, most public charge points provided by ESB ecars are free to use. However, this won’t always be the case. Also, you may need to pay for parking while using them depending on where these are situated.

Most points range in power from 7.4kW to 22kW, but there are also fast chargers that operate at up to 50kW and can charge compatible cars at faster rates. Using the ESB rapid chargers costs €0.33 per kWh with pay-as-you-go or €0.29 per kWh with a monthly €5 subscription. 

For longer journeys, companies such as Ionity offer up to 150kW rapid charging rates at convenient locations along motorways. Still, this convenience comes at a higher price of €0.79 per kWh (albeit with cheaper rates for various subscriptions). A fill to 80 per cent battery capacity could cost upwards of €40 on average for larger batteries, but takes only 20 minutes or so for most cars.

Overall? While there are some important considerations to make before purchasing an electric car, providing it fits with your lifestyle, there are many positives to making the move.

Gearing up for a new car? Check out kbc.ie for one of the lowest rates on the market for car loans over €10,000, with a KBC current account. We have a car loan for You. 

Lending criteria, underwriting, terms and conditions apply. Correct as at 12.2.20, see bonkers.ie. Market refers to banking market only. Loan Discount offer is available for new Personal Loan applications only and is subject to availability. To avail of the optional discounted rate, you must repay the loan from your KBC current account by direct debit. The discounted rate is a discount on the standard personal loan rate which equates to a 1% discount on the Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”), which may vary. KBC Bank Ireland plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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