early electric car Oshay watercolours

Oshay Watercolors (early electric car)

The answer would appear to be yes. Government is having for practical reasons to wean people off fossil fuels, and electric vehicles would appear to be the answer. Obviously buying cars is expensive, and the good news is that most car-sharing clubs now offer electric or hybrid vehicles, so you can enjoy the benefits without actually having to buy a car outright (most car clubs offer almost brand-new vehicles and take care of the cost of everything from maintenance to cleaning and some even leave fuel and breakdown cards in the car). They save a lot of money for people who drive less than 10,000 miles a year, and some companies now have pet-friendly and disabled-friendly vehicle options (a few remain pet-free, due to allergies).

You don’t just get lower fuel costs and zero (or very low cost) road tax with electric cars. You also get less maintenance bills as there are less parts to go wrong. Once bought, a regular service and regular charging is all you need to be concerned about.

So what’s it like to drive an electric car? Most people say that it feels a bit strange at first, but people then quickly get used to it, and prefer it. Modern electric cars are smooth to drive, and usually have all mod-cons from air-conditioning and music systems to regenerative braking (which uses the battery to ‘brake’ even before your foot touches the pedal. Many electric car brands are small ‘city cars’ so are quick and cheap to run, and it’s easier to find parking spaces.

Insurance is generally around the same, though drivers of electric cars are apparently considered lower risk (perhaps because they are a bit more cleaner-living than petrol-heads?) and some companies offer EV insurance deals. London drivers can also take advantage of the Cleaner Vehicle Discount (which could save some drivers up over £10,000 a year by avoiding the London Congestion Charge).

EV vehicles pay no road tax and some businesses can get tax breaks for pure electric vehicles. Plus of course you won’t have all the pollution that goes along with owning a petrol car (no plastic gloves needed at the petrol station when you fill your tank).

If you’re in the market for an electric car, read this EV buying guide by those who know! If concerned how far an electric car will travel, know that around two-thirds of all car trips in England are for short trips, so this should work for most (you can then super-charge for a long journey, or simply take alternative methods of transport. Some two-car families now use the EV car for daily use, and reserve the petrol car for longer trips.

how safe are ‘quiet electric’ cars?

Let’s first address the elephant in the room, on whether ‘quiet and silent’ electric cars are safe (some people have said they are not safe for blind people, children, pets and wildlife as they can’t hear the cars approaching). In fact, studies have shown that for the most part, when at full speed, electric cars are kind of at the same noise level (due to the noise of the tyres, not the engines). When cars are silent is usually say if they are backing out of a driveway or a supermarket, when the car is only just ‘getting going’.

For this reason, hopefully the cars will be going slowly and the drivers looking around carefully before backing out. It’s been found that the people who do tend to have more accidents in electric cars are the owners of the ‘top-end’ market (boy racers – who likely shouldn’t be on the road anyway). In fact, getting rid of oil and other contaminents helps to stop leaks, which is safer for all. Having said that, some makers are now installing alarms to alert pedestrians and wildlife, a good thing.

how & where to charge electric vehicles

Electric cars simply work like your vacuum cleaner. You plug them in and charge them, then they go off driving around town, and you have to keep charging them up to work them again. They get energy from a battery, that converts to power by an electric motor, which drives the wheels.

Go Zero Electric Car Chargers let you charge up at home with optional solar power. Professionally installed, you can also join their network for your own driveway or office driveway to be a charging station for others, and earn passive income. If you run a small business (like a hotel with a car park), you could earn an average £5000K income, from letting passers-by use your charging station, and you get full support every step of the way.

You can find a list of nationwide public charging points at zapmap. You can also use the app to calculate cost-savings if you bought and ran an electric car, compared to a present vehicle. Plus learn how to charge an electric car at home or at a charging point, and compare the times and costs. You can even compare the current cost of a journey, on what it would cost if you drove from A to B in an electric car.

char.gy aims to install a charging station on every lamppost in England, to cater for people who live nearby in flats etc. Councils and businesses can get involved, with free installation and 24/7 driver support, and a guaranteed income from each charge.  Let’s have councils install wildlife-friendly lighting (orange-hues to protect wildlife) and that’s two jobs done in one.

Another option is Zap-Home, a peer-to-peer charging service, where home owners who own a charger set their fee, for neighbours and passers-by to charge their vehicles. Do not trail electric cables across pavements or public areas to connect cars parked, this is safety hazard and will likely invalidate your insurance.

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