What does it cost to live and work with an electric car? – Move Electric

To find out what it's like to use an electric car for your job, we asked Mike Nunn, who runs a driving school and teaches pupils at the wheel of a Mini Electric...

Mike with his Mini Electric

Hi, I am Mike, a driving instructor in Lincolnshire, and I have been teaching automatic driving lessons in a fully electric car for two and a half years, first in a Renault Zoe and now in a Mini Electric.

Move Electric asked me to keep a diary for a week to give some insights into what life is really like driving an electric car every day – not just for my commute, but for my work. I have focused on the costs, as well as covering some benefits and concerns.

Here is how my last week working with an electric car went:

Monday, 27 September – overnight charging cost £2.87

There is torrential rain this morning, and this has me wondering how my Mini will be affected. I have three driving lessons booked today, all two hours each.

To preserve range – and for comfort – I set off with my car pre-conditioned; basically, heated and with the windows clear while it is still plugged in, to save the electricity. Once the windows are clear, I leave, although I turn the ventilation fan up a bit.

A fair bit of that work is undone when my first customer jumps in more than a little damp. No matter: it's an opportunity to show how effectively a Mini E will clear its windows. It’s super-fast and doesn’t use much energy really. I return home with 74% charge remaining. The rain did not have that much impact on energy use.

For lesson two, the weather is better and this customer is nearer home and preparing for a driving test this week. We are practising closer to the driving test centre, identifying nearby hazards. After this driving lesson, I arrive home with 48% charge remaining – so, according to the meter, we’ve used the same amount of energy again.

The third lesson of the day is focusing on slip roads and larger roundabouts on our nearby bypass.  This uses a little more energy due to faster driving and a few extra miles. I return home having driven another 43 miles and now have 17% remaining.

After a few errands, I finish the day with 12% charge left and have covered 116 miles.

Mini Electric on road

Tuesday, 28 September – overnight charge cost £4.46

The weather is much better today, and I have three more lessons planned. The pattern of energy use is actually pretty similar to the previous day's and consistent with the type of driving we do: lesson one takes my charge down to 71%, lesson two to 51% and I finish my day on 27%.

I find the Mini’s 29kWh battery usually manages a day’s work. Just two weeks ago, I did not have a home charger and was relying on the ‘granny cable’ – a three-pin plug charger that is the slowest way to charge. In order to start with a full charge, I used to top up to 50% on a rapid charger on my way home. The granny charger would then fill the car overnight.

It was actually fine, but having a home charger is more convenient and saves a little time. I typically charge for around four hours to fill the Mini up. I plug in at the end of today with 27% charge remaining and having driven 98 miles.

Wednesday, 29 September – overnight charge cost £3.80

Today, I have two bookings: a driving test and an evening lesson. We are starting the day with sunshine and a fully charged battery. 

After a leisurely morning, I head out to the first customer for their driving test. Interestingly, after the driving test, the examiner tells me that their EV is due for delivery soon. My pupil records a first-time pass and a new EV driver will soon hit the roads. I return home with 80% battery remaining.

After a break, I’m off to my evening lesson. Today was always going to be easy on my battery, but on my drive home, I am reminded of just how good full LED headlights are, with the added benefit of drawing less power. 

I finish my day on 49% charge and have driven 71 miles. 

Mini Electric at charging point

Thursday, 30 September – overnight charge cost £2.65

I have a full day of three driving lessons today, with a rainy forecast and the weather notably much cooler as well. I am starting to notice the battery drops from 100% a little sooner than during the summer.

One thing I love is getting into a nice warm car in the morning. As well as setting the charge timer, I have the pre-conditioning set to have the car ready for me. The power to make my car nice and warm car comes from my house so I always leave with a full battery.

I finish the day with 26% charge and have covered 98 miles.

Friday, 1 October –  overnight charge cost £3.86

This was meant to be the start of my weekend. I usually work Sunday to Thursday. But with a customer unexpectedly moving their driving test, I am up at 6am, enjoying the warmth from the pre-conditioning. After the driving test, I’ve a few errands to run. So much for a day off.

One thing I’ve noticed is how the interest in EVs is growing. I’m able to give a test drive to someone who is EV-curious and they love the driving experience. One advantage of having an ‘any driver’ insurance policy.

I finish the day with 61% charge and have driven 48 miles.

Mini Electric on road

Saturday, 2 October – overnight charge cost £2.03

It’s supposedly another day off… but I have a customer who wants to do the first six hours of an intensive 20-hour driving course. It’s raining and never above 12deg C, but no problem: the Mini averages around four miles per kWh, a measurement of efficiency to show how much range you get per unit of energy. Above four is a strong result.

We cover a bit of everything today, from parking to running along the bypass and dual carriageways. My customer is very impressed with my Mini when compared with their previous instructor’s automatic car.

I finish the day with 28% charge and have driven 88 miles.

Sunday, 3 October – overnight charge cost £3.76

I have three driving lessons booked for today, and it’s a little cooler and drier than yesterday. 

Today, I have an experienced learner trying a driving test route, an intermediate learner doing parallel parking and driving faster on the bypass and a new starter undertaking some steady driving in a quiet area. It's the new starter's first time in an electric car and they are very impressed with how quiet and smooth my Mini is both as a passenger and then again as a driver. Another happy new customer looking forward to future driving lessons is a great result for me and the Mini Electric.

I finish the day with 39% charge and have driven 84 miles.

The total cost of charging over this week has been £23.43 - pretty amazing, given I’ve covered 603 miles, making it 3.8p per mile, but I actually think I can do better. I’ve been using standard-rate electric at 18p per kWh, but on the Octopus Go tariff, I should be able to get 5p per kWh. Then the same mileage would have cost me £6.51 for this week.

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