Published on: 26/07/2022
Trust My Garage member Matt Cleevely, Managing Director of Cleevely Electric Vehicles, shares his advice on the most common questions and concerns people have before purchasing their first electric vehicle.
“The future is electric” is what we have being told for the last few years, but is it? As a workshop owner I started my own personal EV journey 5 years ago, by taking my high-voltage training with an IMI trainer, giving me both Level 3 & 4 qualifications, but no customers with an electric vehicle (EV). But I understood that, to be able to encourage EV adoption and learn about it, I needed to live with the technology myself, so that I could understand and advise. So, I bought a used Nissan Leaf and started to learn lessons instantly!
Buy from an expert
Buying an EV doesn’t follow the same rules of buying an internal combustion engined car (ICE). My traditional view of car purchasing, and that of most people, is that to get the best value for money you buy an example with a low mileage. With an EV it can be slightly different. Yes, there needs to be a consideration for motor, drivetrain and suspension wear that can be caused from a higher mileage, but the focus should be the battery, as the battery will degrade slowly over time, and with being mis-treated.
The car we purchased (2015 24kWh Nissan Leaf Tekna) was 18 months old and had only covered 1800 miles. Brilliant, I thought, but I have since learnt that our car (or battery mainly) was prematurely degraded by the previous owner, who was so scared by range anxiety, they would do a local shopping trip and on returning home would plug the car in and recharge back-up to 100% and leave it standing at 100% for a few days. Heat is the enemy of any Lithium-Ion battery whether it is a car, phone, laptop etc, and charging above 80% should only be done when required for a longer use periods. Most cars now have charge limit settings to promote this behaviour. Unfortunately, I trusted the main dealer who was selling the car to have the knowledge about battery health, but the truth is many still don’t know enough about EV technology.
Fortunately, there are knowledgeable EV used specialist retailers now, plus the ability to check the battery state-of-health (SOH), via third party apps like LeafSpy for the Nissan. They list battery SOH, along with other information, which you can use to check the battery before purchase.
Batteries don’t last long, and range is too limiting
Whilst we are on the topic of batteries, these are the main comments that we receive most regularly at our garage. EVs have now been on UK roads for over ten years. We are starting to see degradation levels reaching up to 40-50% on some of the oldest batteries, rendering them difficult to use due to limited range (a lot of early EV’s had batteries sub 30kWh). As a rough guide to working-out range, 1kWh would equate to approx. 3 miles of use, so a full 24kWh battery would be capable of around 70 miles, if healthy.
As with any vehicle, driving style and ambient temperatures will affect total range. It is common to lose up to 20% of the potential range driving in winter, as the battery doesn’t like the cold, but the cold doesn’t damage the battery at all. Nobody ever discusses their winter MPG in their ICE vehicle either, but range loss will happen to an ICE too. The degradation of the battery can be slowed by being careful with charge management, as mentioned previously, but shouldn’t be a huge concern of a first-time buyer. In 5 years of looking after EVs we have only seen 5 battery problems, all of which we have fixed as experienced specialists.
How does charging work?
If you are lucky enough to have a driveway, then you can have a fuel-station at your house! You can then just get home, plug-in and leave the car charging. Charging times will vary depending on battery size, amount of charge required and speed of charger. The slowest way to charge is via a household 3-pin plug, which will add around 10 miles per hour on charge and will require not additional equipment at your house. You can also have a dedicated EV charging point fitted. These units charge at 7kWh, which means a charging speed of around 25 miles per hour on charge. The charger will need to be fitted by a qualified electrician, on a separate ring-main on your home electric circuit. The, now standard, type2 connector is fitted to chargers, but you can choose whether to have the cable attached to the charger or use the charge cable that comes with the car and have the charger ‘un-tethered’, which is neater in my opinion.
When out and about, public charging isn’t as scary as you think! It isn’t as plentiful as it should be, but things are improving all the time. Rapid chargers, as they are called, provide a large amount of energy in a quick time. You can get a charge in as little as 30 minutes. We recommend topping-up and ‘graze-charging,’ as getting out of that flat-to-full mentality of ‘re-filling’ is important when using public charging. As adoption grows, sitting on a charge for the minimum requirement will help availability of chargers.
But EVs are too expensive!
Any new and advanced technology has an additional cost implication. A huge amount of the car’s value is in the cost of the battery. In our experience, older EVs are holding their value, due to a huge demand for both complete cars, and a demand for their batteries for other projects, like solar storage. Being able to buy an old EV for £2-3,000 won’t happen for many years yet.
Lease or buy?
Our recommendation is, if you can, to buy. Depreciation of an EV is low, residual values are high and total cost of ownership (TCO) is low. Running an EV is relatively cheap. Fuel costs are low; 100 miles in an EV can cost as low as £5-10, dependant on the price of electricity. Servicing costs are very low too. With half as many parts on an EV, there is less to have serviced, with no need for annual oil and filter changes, amongst other things. If you’re spending £200-300 a month on buying petrol or diesel, then it would be worth looking into the cost of buying an EV and borrowing an amount with the same costs as your fuel spend.
If you wanted to know more about EVs, without any obligation to buy, then feel free to contact the experienced and knowledgeable team at Cleevely EV, in Cheltenham. EV owners, users and repairers ourselves, we understand the cars and their requirements, and offer impartial advice.
What is Trust My Garage?
Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s best local garages – each one different and each one dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service. All garages in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association – which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.
Whether you need an MOT, service, repairs or specialist advice, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members follow, means that you and your motor both get the best possible service – no matter the problem!
For more information about Trust My Garage or to locate your nearest TMG member visit www.trustmygarage.co.uk.