Even if you find a public charging point that’s free, there’s an unexpected downside: it might be occupied by a plug-in hybrid. Making drivers pay for electricity frees up charging points for proper EVs.
You’ll be lucky to find any free ones now, although there is sometimes a limited ‘ free charge promotion to attract new customers. First, car dealers are usually in places that are out of your way (although the better ones will offer decent coffee and a waiting lounge).
However, if you are referred by an existing Tesla owner, there is a promotion that gives you ‘1,000 miles’ of free charging. Non-Tesla electric car owners were surprised to find out that they can charge, technically for free, at new V3 Superchargers in Europe, where Tesla now uses the common CCS standard.
With the launch of the Model 3 and its Supercharger V3 in Europe, Tesla switched its main charging standard to CCS. While most other electric cars on the road use the same standard and connector, it didn’t mean that other EVs were able to use Tesla’s extensive Supercharger network.
While this isn’t likely to last long, it does show that it wouldn’t be too difficult to enable other automakers to use the network. Maybe it would even inspire people to get back to the negotiation table and explore new potential partnerships.
So if you’re thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle (EV), it’s important to get to grips with how to go about charging one. To get started, you’ll need to buy an electric vehicle wall charging unit and install it somewhere convenient, such as your driveway.
However, most properties operate a single-phase supply (one live wire), and many electric cars are not yet capable of receiving a charge as high as 22kW at home. Type 1 is mainly found in North America or on older models of electric car in Europe.
Type 2 connectors are now more commonly found on electric vehicles in Europe and have a seven-pin plug. The cost of buying a wall box and having it installed will vary depending on the manufacturer and charge speed, but toucan expect to pay anywhere between £300 and £800.
To give you a helping hand, the government’s Electric Vehicle Home charge Scheme (EVES) will cover 75% of the cost, up to a maximum of £350 (previously £500). However, the box must be installed by a supplier approved by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLAV).
Show if you’re charging exclusively at home, an EV could add between £450 and £730 to your annual electricity bills. Public charging points are starting to spring up everywhere and can often be found at freeway service stations, supermarkets, cinemas, car parks or even on the side of the road.
Figures from Zap-Map show that as of 4 August 2021, there were 33,090 charging connectors at 11,975 locations, and this number is rising all the time. Because it can vary by network, it’s worth planning ahead, particularly for long journeys, to work out which charging points toucan use and whether you need to sign up to an app in advance.
Alternatively, fast chargers provide power from around 7kW to 22kW so will take around two to five hours to charge your car. The RAC pegs the typical EV range at 100 to 300 miles, but this will depend on the type of vehicle you have and its battery life.
For additional reassurance, it’s worth having breakdown cover so that toucan call someone out to tow you to the nearest charging point in the event your car did run out of power. The RAC also has a mobile electric vehicle charger system that can give your car up to a 10-mile power boost from its standard patrol van.
For example, LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) has partnered with AFF, the national roadside electric vehicle charging assistance company, to provide policyholders with mobile charging facilities on roads across England and Wales, including the hard shoulder and emergency refuge areas of freeways. This new service means the vehicle can receive a 30-minute charge at the roadside, providing an average 10 miles of battery, giving them the chance to continue their journey and get to a nearby petrol/service station or private location to do a full charge.
If you choose to do this, you’ll make a monthly payment for the battery but never actually own it outright. Some also prefer knowing that if the battery does deteriorate, it is the leasing company’s responsibility to fix it.
Be aware, however, that the battery in your EV may perform less well in extreme heat or cold, so the range may be reduced. Owners can use a standard outlet, which takes a while, or install a wall charger for a much quicker charge.
Consumer Reports recommends that most electric vehicle buyers, especially those purchasing a plug-in hybrid (PHEW) with a small battery, start with just the included cord, rather than invest in a 240-volt, or Level 2, wall-mounted charger. “Most PHEW owners will not need a Level 2 charger,” advises Gil Tail, director of the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis.
“The Level 1 charger that is provided with the car can charge the battery back to 100 percent overnight.” Tail adds that Level 1 may be sufficient for many EV owners if they don't drive more than 40 to 50 miles a day.
You’ll need an electrician to install a special 240-volt receptacle, like the ones used for most clothes dryers, in your garage. Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the September 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
While they feature an electric powertrain, plug-in hybrids more closely resemble normal cars as they also use an internal combustion engine running on either petrol of diesel. Soon, you'll even be able to sell energy stored in your car's batteries back to the National Grid at times of high demand.
While fuel pumps and octane levels have long been standardized across various countries, electric vehicle manufacturers initially developed different connectors that best suited their cars batteries. In 2014, the European Commission ruled that all new plug-in vehicles and all new charging stations should feature a Type 2 (occasionally called a Mentees) connector.
Even though new plug-in vehicles now feature Type 2 sockets as standard, a single car may be compatible with multiple cables. One limitation here is that the maximum current that can be drawn from most houses is 3kW, meaning a full charge on an electric car will the best part of a day, and possibly even longer.
This is a rapid DC charging connector, developed by a consortium of German and American carmakers including VW, Audi, Porsche, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. CCS stands for Combined Charging System, and it’s the favorite among European manufacturers as well as some Asian makers such as Hyundai.
While CCS is a rapid DC charging technology developed by German and American manufacturers, Chemo is its Japanese counterpart. Developed by Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and a host of electrical appliance firms, Chemo is Japan’s answer for rapid DC charging connectors.
In order to make charging more convenient for drivers, the government has indicated that it would like to see contactless payments rolled out as standard for all public chargers. Drive to an available bay, either pay in advance or use a subscription card to unlock the charger, and then simply connect the cable to your car’s socket.
The number of plug-in electric cars on North American roads grows every year, and with them come new buyers. Note that this advice is for charging in North America; if you're in Europe or Asia, there are differences that we're not covering in this article.
If you have a charging station installed at home, it will require the same type of wiring as an electric stove or clothes dryer. Generally owners of battery- electric cars like the Nissan Leaf will require a Level 2 home charging station to provide overnight recharges.
It's a good way for corporations to cut their carbon footprint, it's not that expensive to install, and it's a nice employee perk--whether or not the company or landlord charges a fee for it. Virtually all public sites offer Level 2 charging, with a few providing DC fast-charging as well--increasingly with both Chemo and CCS cables.
Some public charging is free, while other sites impose a fee, using a number of different (and mostly) incompatible networks that generally require membership up front. We strongly recommend that you get a smartphone app to locate charging stations wherever you may take your electric car.
First, there's the problem of “Ceding,” in which a car with an Internal Combustion Engine parks at a charging site, blocking access for plug-in drivers--whether inadvertently or maliciously. Failing that, leave a factual but courteous note pointing out that their action prevented you from recharging--which was the sole purpose of the spot they parked in.
Electric vehicle parking by Flickr user aaron_anderer, used under Creative Commons license Second, if toucan 't get back to your car to unplug and move it immediately once it's done recharging, you may choose to leave a note for other plug-in drivers.
And you're likely to find electric -car drivers to be enormously informative, willing to talk about their cars and why they like them, perhaps even offer you a drive. That's how some electric cars get sold to first-timers: They drive the car, decide they like the experience, learn about the much cheaper cost-per-mile of electricity versus gasoline, and the seed is planted.