Daniel Butler-Hawkes, energy solutions officer at Jersey Electricity, explains why it is important to do some research before buying a new electric car.
WE have grown up in the era of the petrol car and become very familiar with our four-wheeled friends.
And, as we have studied the symbols on the dashboard and tuned our ears to identify nuances in the engine sounds, the sight of the yellow petrol symbol lighting up does nothing more than cause us to sigh and wonder how much it will cost us to refill this time.
But think back a couple of decades and the prospect of filling up our own cars would have been unthinkable, with petrol-pump attendants rushing onto garage forecourts as soon as a customer pulled up.
Now, though, most of us think nothing about releasing the safety cap, selecting the relevant fuel and dispensing it into the tank.
Of course, for those who have made the transition to an electric vehicle, this regular trip to the petrol station is now a thing of the past, with these motorists benefitting from lower running costs and the convenience of either charging their cars at home or on Jersey Electricity’s public network.
But transitions of any kind rarely come without teething problems and, just as drivers had to familiarise themselves with fuel pumps all those years ago, now there is a new technology to conquer.
In previous columns, I have spoken about the importance of research before committing to buying an EV and this is a theme which applies here as well. If 2023 is the year you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint and/or switch to an EV, then here are some questions to consider before getting out your cheque book.
Firstly, do your research before buying the vehicle. It is important to know the range of the vehicle, its battery size and what charging leads come with the car. Understanding the speed it will charge at is vital, and how this will differ when connecting to a fast or rapid charger are all questions your dealership should be able to answer.
But these facts alone are not enough. You also need to know your average mileage so that you can put the vehicle’s range into context.
Will one charge cover the weekly school run, trips to swimming and dancing classes, as well as your own commute?
Once you are equipped with this knowledge and comfortable with how often you will need to charge your car, it is important to consider where you will do this. If you live in a property where an Easycharge system can be installed and you can top up your car’s battery overnight, then this question won’t need a huge amount of thought.
But if you live in a property without adjacent parking, or with on-street parking only, you will need to consider using JE’s Evolve public charging network. While this may seem daunting at first, it is worth remembering that this network comprises more than 100 charge points and that you are never more than a mile and a half away from a point. A map showing each location is available at evolve.je.
On the evolve.je website you can see the different speeds of each charge point. This shows that, if you are using a 22kW fast charger at full capacity, for example, a ten-minute charge will add 13 miles to your vehicle’s range. Remember, not all vehicles will charge at the same speed.
While there are user instructions on the website and at each charge point, I would recommend taking some time to familiarise yourself with the charging process and to understand how the charger connects with your vehicle. Ask for a demonstration when you are buying the vehicle – don’t wait until you need that first charge to try to work it out.
Buying an EV is a significant investment and not one which everyone is in a position to make. However, if you have decided that this is for you, I would suggest hiring an EV (evieondemand.com) first just to make sure that the reality matches your expectations.
This also gives you a chance to try out the chargers and to become comfortable with the infrastructure and think about how you can adapt your routine.
Is there, for example, a charge point located within easy walking distance of your home or workplace? Or could you change your dog-walking route so that you can top up the car battery while recharging your own batteries with a bracing walk along the beach?
Just as you might take a detour to refuel a petrol or diesel car, running an electric vehicle requires some thought, but the environmental and financial savings mean this research will pay dividends very quickly.
In summary, think before you buy, ask questions, take a test drive and do your homework.
This will ensure you and your EV have a long and low-carbon future together.