Electric cars FAQs and coming soon - FAQ part 2

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  • With more EVs heading for the roads…
  • …we answer the questions you're asking
  • Coming soon guide, too
9. How does the Government subsidy work and what EVs qualify?
• The Government has pledged to pay up to £5000 towards a qualifying EV, under its Plug-In Car Grant scheme. The dealer from which you are purchasing the car from should complete the paperwork on your behalf.

• A list of the nine electric and plug-in hybrid cars that qualify for the Government plug-in car grant is available on the DfT website.

• The scheme was rolled out on January 1, and is available to both private customers and businesses users.

• It’s also worth bearing in mind, that the Government plans to review the £43 million grant fund in a year's time, which could pull the rug from under the feet of the EV movement.

10. Do EVs need servicing?
• With fewer moving parts, and no oil and filter to replace, servicing costs should be lower than petrol and diesel cars, with consumables such as tyres and wiper blades being the biggest costs – until you come to renewing the batteries.
Some manufacturers, including Mitsubishi, recommend an annual inspection, although they offer a three-year service package for £300 on the I-Miev.

11. Other running costs?
• EVs qualify for free road tax, but it’s worth noting that some low-emissions diesel and petrol cars also attract a zero-rating.

• Exemption from the £10 per day London Congestion Charge is also another bonus.

• Some London boroughs, and major UK cities including Edinburgh and Milton Keynes, offer free parking for electric vehicles in designated bays.

• Insurance costs are likely to be higher, with more costly replacement parts to blame. The Nissan Leaf is in insurance group 22, which is higher than many equivalent petrol or diesel cars.

12. How will electric vehicles depreciate?
• Depreciation is an unknown quantity, but low running costs and relatively high initial list prices could result in EVs becoming popular used buys – assuming reliability stands up and enough consumers adopt the electric car philosophy.

• However, the big dampener on future values is battery lifespan – the value of a Leaf could be hit after five years when its battery warranty expires.

• What Car? estimates a 38% retained value after three years and 36,000 miles, not quite as strong as the 43% a Toyota Prius holds on to over the same period. Trade bible CAP is being more optimistic, giving the Leaf a 47% retained value after three years and 30,000 miles.

13. Can electric vehicles cope in cold weather?
• Cold-weather range tends to decline, as headlights, cabin heating and demisting place an additional strain on battery packs.

• Some manufacturers are developing innovative solutions to ensure year-round usability is not compromised. Volvo recently announced that the electric C30 will have a separate bio-ethanol heater for passenger heating in cold weather, preserving battery power.

14. What is the lifespan of an electric battery?
• Nissan claims the Leaf’s lithium-ion batteries will last up to 10 years, but admits there will be a gradual loss of capacity of up to 30%, dependent on driving style.

• It is hard to give an accurate figure until electric cars are in wider ownership and subject to longer-term use, although most manufacturers put battery expectancy at between eight and 10 years.

15. How much is a new battery?
• The Leaf’s battery costs £8000 to replace, although Nissan warrants the EV components for five years or 60,000 miles, and it is likely other manufacturers will need to follow suit.

• Leasing battery packs to avoid large falls in resale value is an option being explored in the industry, although Ford recently ruled out this model for the Focus EV, and Nissan has also chosen to sell the Leaf with ‘batteries included’.

16. What if I run out of charge at the roadside?
• ‘Range anxiety’ is one reason many are reluctant to embrace EV technology. Given that the average journey length in the UK is less than 10 miles, running out of power should be rare, provided drivers use a bit of forward thinking before setting out.

• If the worst does happen, Nissan will pick up red-faced Leaf drivers free of charge during the first year, under their roadside assistance plan. Mitsubishi offers a three-year roadside and home assistance package with the I-Miev.

17. Can I take an EV abroad?
• The EU has been working on setting a standard pan-European plug for recharging in member states, but agreement has not yet been reached. Taking an EV overseas could be a risky affair for the time being.

Electric cars FAQs and coming soon - Coming soon: electric cars

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