Growing Popularity of Electric Vehicles

Despite concerns regarding the cost to purchase and charging infrastructure the popularity of Electric Vehicles continues to grow (electric vehicle figures for Northern Ireland). NIE Networks suggest that by 2030 there will be in the region of 300,000 electric vehicles (EVs) registered in Northern Ireland.

Types of Electric Vehicle

Here is a summary of the main types of Electric Vehicle that are available:

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)These are powered by electricity and use energy stored in rechargeable battery packs to drive the vehicle. They do not have an internal combustion engine and produce zero tailpipe emissions

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) These vehicles have a battery, electric drive motor and an internal combustion engine. It can be driven with either the petrol or diesel engine, electric motor, or both simultaneously. The battery can be recharged by an external power source.

Hybrid vehicles use an internal combustion engine to power a generator, which in turn charges the battery internally without plug-in capability.

Extended Range Electric Vehicles (REEVs) REEVs are similar to PHEVs but have a smaller internal combustion engine that acts as a generator to recharge the battery when needed, extending the vehicle’s range.

How much do electric vehicles cost?

While the initial upfront purchase price of an electric vehicle can be higher (although this is dropping), this is usually offset by lower running costs and maintenance costs. According to the Transport & Environment, EVs will have price parity with petrol and diesel vehicles by 2027 at the latest.

What about the cost of running and maintaining an electric vehicle

According to the SEAI EVs are 70% cheaper to run and maintain than diesel or petrol cars. 

Battery electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and therefore require less maintenance due to wear and tear than petrol and diesel vehicles. This will reduce costs, especially as the car get older. When being serviced, EVs don’t require an oil and filter change. However, general mechanics, such as brakes, wheels, and steering wheels, still need regular checks.

As a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle retains a petrol or diesel engine it will have similar maintenance requirements to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles.

HEVRA- Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance offers advice on independent electric vehicle repair and servicing options including assistance in finding a suitable garage near you.

Charging an Electric Vehicle

Where you will charge your electric vehicle is an important point to consider.

Charging at home is the most convenient and cheapest option but it is likely you will also rely on public charging points, perhaps a workplace or even other EV owners who may ‘rent out’ time on their home charger.

What are the different types of chargepoint?

EV chargers come in a variety of shapes and sizes which can be roughly broken down into four categories. The amount of time it takes to charge an electric vehicle depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point.

Slow chargepoints are generally 3 kilowatts (kW) or less, fast chargepoints are between 7 and 22 kW, rapid chargepoints are 50kW, and ultra-rapid units are 150kW+.

Home Charging

The Electric Vehicle Association Northern Ireland’s (EVANI) 2022 survey found that 94% of EV owners have a charger at home and that 71% charge most often at home.

Installing a home charging point

If you have a driveway or garage, the cheapest and most convenient way is to install a dedicated chargepoint. A home charging point is a compact weatherproof unit that mounts to a wall with a connected charging cable or a socket for plugging in a portable charging cable.

A 7kW AC charge point is probably the most common option and will give you the maximum charging rate available from a domestic supply.

When you decide to have an EV charger installed at your house, you will need a contractor who is suitably qualified to undertake the installation for you. It is a legal obligation to notify Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE Networks) of the installation of a charge point. NIE Networks has an Electric Vehicle Drivers Guide to Charging at Home which includes information on notifying NIE Networks of an electric vehicle charger installation. 

According to the RAC the typical cost of a home charge point is around £800. The EV chargepoint grant can provides funding of up to 75%, up to a limit of £350, to help with the cost of installing a home charging point.

Public Charge Points

The public charge point network across Ireland is improving. There is greater availability and speed of charger although further work is required to ensure consistent access to high speed chargers across the island.

Public charge points are probably most useful for on-the-go charging or if you do not have a home charge point. ESB operate a large network of around 1,500 public charge points across the island of Ireland. You can check their ESB charge point map to find the closet charger to you. Other charge point operators, including ChargePointEasyGo, Maxol and Weev. now also provide publicly-accessible charge points in NI.

There are a number of apps, such as Zapmap that allow you to search for public chargers by location – these apps can often tell you the charger speed and if they are in use which can be helpful when planning a journey.

Finding the best electricity deal for your Electric Vehicle

As many EV owners will charge their vehicle overnight it may be beneficial to check out whether your supplier offers any EV tariffs or if switching to an Economy 7 tariff (with a cheaper night rate) could save you money.

With Power to Switch  you can compare all electricity deals from all suppliers available in the Northern Ireland. With our Economy 7 comparison you can also adjust the amount of electricity you use at night-time to ensure it reflects your actual usage if charging your vehicle at home overnight.

Use our electricity comparison tool to find the best deal for charging your electric vehicle.

Range and ‘Range Anxiety’

The distance an EV can be driven between a battery charge is known as the range. 

Motorists will often worry about an EV’s range not being sufficient to reach their destination, a concept known as ‘range anxiety’.

Hybrid EVs don’t have any issues with the overall driving range, however, BEVs are limited in the distances they can drive without needing to be charged.  As technologically develops the range of EVs is steadily increasing. However, it can vary between models and will depend on the power of the car’s battery. For longer ranges, a larger battery is required. This, of course, comes with a higher price tag.

Typically, the average range of most new electric vehicles is between 250km and 350km, with some EVs even travelling between 500km and 600km on a full charge. 

How does weather impact on EV range and battery health?

There is no doubt that extremes of weather can impact battery range, particularly very cold weather. In colder conditions during winter, EVs can lose up to 20% of their range. Heating and air conditioning will have an effect on the range and , however all EVs can be pre-cooled and pre-heated whilst the car is plugged in to help maximise range and provide a warm car to step into in the winter and a cool one in the summer.

MOT and Vehicle Tax

Electric vehicles will have to pass an MOT test after four years just like other cars. This is because MOT tests are to make sure vehicles are safe for the road. However, unlike MOT tests for petrol or diesel cars, electric vehicles do not require an emissions test or noise test. 

Legally all cars must be taxed but not all vehicles have to pay road tax. Currently fully electric cars do not pay any road tax. However, this is set to change from April 2025 when electric vehicles will no longer be exempt from road tax. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hybrids can pay anywhere between £0-£155 road tax per year.

Vehicle Excise Duty: Expensive Car Supplement

Since April 2017, cars with a list price exceeding £40,000 pay an additional supplement (£390 April 2023 rate) as well as paying the standard rate. Zero-emission cars were exempt from the £40,000 rule but from 1 April 2025 will have to pay the supplementary rate.

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