The range of your electric car and charging it are two of the most important aspects to think about when considering an electric car.
Watch our short video to find out more.
The range of an electric car is how far it will travel. A small electric car may have a range of just over 100 miles on a fully charged battery, however range is improving all the time and the majority of electric cars can now drive more than 200 miles between charges.
Like the miles per gallon (MPG) figure given for petrol and diesel cars, the range stated by a manufacturer is from test conditions and when driven in real world conditions the range achieved will be lower. As with all cars, things like number of passengers and weight being carried, speed, driving style, types of road and terrain, as well as the use of features such as heating and air conditioning, will all affect the range that an electric car can achieve on a fully charged battery. The weather also has an impact on range, so you should expect to achieve a lower range in colder weather.
An important way to preserve your range it to “pre-condition” your vehicle before you leave your house. Put simply, you schedule your departure time via the car’s media system, or vehicle app, and the car is heated or cooled to your settings while it is plugged in. This means it is prepped and ready to go using the electricity from the charger, rather than the battery in the car. This is particularly important in winter when you might need the windows defrosted – doing this while the vehicle is plugged in at home will preserve your battery and maximise your range.
Kilowatts (kW) and Kilowatt hours (kWh)
A kWh (Kilowatt hour) is the capacity or size of the battery. As a general rule, cars with a larger kWh battery will have a longer range. For example, the Nissan LEAF is available with a 40kWh battery, and a 62kWh battery. The smaller 40kWh model has a quoted range of approximately 168 miles, whereas the larger 62KWh version has a quoted range of approximately 239 miles.
A kW (Kilowatt, equivalent to 1,000 watts) is a measurement of power, and in the context of electric cars is comparable to the horsepower or brake horsepower of a standard car. A car with a higher kW rating will typically be able to accelerate faster and attain a higher top speed.
kW is also used in the context of charging, and this relates to the speed at which charge can be added to a vehicle battery. A 7kW home charger will take longer to charge the same vehicle than a 50kW fast charger.
All electric cars available on the Motability Scheme have their range listed on the Car Search.
If you are able to have a home charger fitted, this can make recharging more convenient than using traditional petrol stations, however if you need to recharge when you are out and about it will take longer than refuelling a traditional petrol or diesel car. It’s good to know that charging technology is improving all the time and if you choose an ‘ultra-fast’ or ‘ultra-rapid’ charger you could recharge in around 15 minutes.
Electric chargepoints generally fall into three types: slow, fast and rapid. If you have a home chargepoint installed as part of your first lease for a fully electric vehicle this will be a 7kW charger.
- Slow – 3kW (charging a 40kWh battery will take 13 hours)
- Fast – from 7kW to 22kW (a 22kW charger will top up a 40kWh battery in 2 hours)
- Rapid – from 43kW to 50 kW (a 50kW charger will top up a 40kWh battery in 1 hour 15 minutes)
- Ultra-fast / ultra-rapid – 150kW (charging a 40kWh battery will take 15 minutes)
It always takes longer to charge if you are starting from a completely empty battery, so we recommend that you recharge when the battery level gets down to around 10-20%. Starting a charge from 10% could take around 30 minutes less using a fast charger.
While the Government has partnered with Motability, the charity, and the British Standards Institute to develop accessibility standards for electric chargepoints across the UK, at the moment not all charge points are equally accessible. There are issues with kerb height, space between bollards and charge points being at a suitable height for wheelchair users. It is definitely worth checking out the infrastructure in your area to ensure that it will meet your specific accessibility needs.
All electric cars available on the Motability Scheme will come supplied with the necessary cable to charge it. Depending on what time of plug your specific car has may impact which public charging points you are able to use, although many newer public chargepoints have multiple plug types.
- Type 1 – An early type of plug used by Nissan, Mitsubishi and Vauxhall
- Type 2 – Fast becoming the most popular type of plug used by most European brands
- CHAdeMO – A rapid charging plug used by Nissan and Mitsubishi
- CSS (Combined Charging System) – The standard type of rapid charging plug used by European brands
- UK 3 pin plug – Generally would only be used in an emergency as it takes a long time to charge using this.