A charging point is a piece of electrical equipment which can be used to recharge an electric vehicle. Charging points can essentially be grouped into two types; those that supply alternating current (AC) to the vehicle, and those that ‘rectify’ AC to provide direct current (DC).
As batteries are DC devices, delivering DC and requiring DC to recharge, use of an AC unit means that an ‘on-board’ rectifier (or ‘charger’) is required to be built into the EV. DC charging points perform the rectification ‘off board’ in the charging unit; one reason why they are often larger and most costly to manufacture. The advantage, however, is that the vehicle no longer requires an ‘on board’ charger and can be charged more quickly. In practice, most vehicles have an on-board charger to be able to use an AC supply.
A battery electric vehicle (BEV) is a vehicle that uses an electric motor to convert chemical energy stored in rechargeable batteries into forward or reverse motion. Pure BEVs have no on-board internal combustion engine.
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is similar to a conventional hybrid in that it retains a petrol or diesel engine. However larger battery size increases electric-only range, while the biggest difference is the ability to charge via mains electricity.
In the same way that a plug-in hybrid is an extension of a hybrid, an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) is an extension of a plug-in hybrid. A conventional engine is retained but is much smaller and the battery capacity is generally increased. In a pure EREV, the wheels can only be driven by the electric motor(s), the internal combustion engine only being used to hold or recharge the batteries as they become depleted.
Driving an electric car certainly feels different the first time round. Most notably an electric car is almost silent (except for wind and road noise). Apart from that electric vehicles are similar to most automatic petrol or diesel equivalents. One noticeable difference is that the torque (driving force) is much higher than conventional vehicles at lower speed, which means EVs can accelerate fast from standstill.
Most new BEVs have a real-world range of around 80-100 miles although some premium models (such as the Tesla Model S) can achieve three times this.
Depending on the model, PHEVs are able to drive 15-40 miles in electric only mode. However, when the conventional petrol or diesel engine is used, PHEVs have a range that can exceed 500 miles on both fuels. EREVs usually offer the same amount of range as BEVs on electric but then can call on a small combustion engine to extend the range to 200-300 miles.
It is possible to maximise your EVs range by turning off electrical appliances such as air conditioning, heating etc. and moderating your driving style to be gentler on the throttle while accelerating, and coming off the throttle earlier to make the most of the car’s regenerative braking topping up the battery’s charge. EV drivers often report gaining experience over time as to the real world limits of their EV’s range.
The speed with which an EV can be fully recharged is dependent on three factors; the charger type (max power available), the model specification, and the battery capacity of the EV.
As charging points can be defined by their maximum power rating – Slow (3kW), Fast (7-22kW) and Rapid (50kW+) – the charger type indicates how quickly an EV could charge. However, this is only half the story as some electric vehicles are limited in how quickly they can recharge due to the specification of the on-board charger. For example, an EV with a 3kW on-board charger connected to a 7kW charging point can only charge at 3kW.
To complicate matters, if an EV has a large capacity battery, this inevitably will take longer to charge even if the power (rate) is high. In general, EVs with relatively long ranges will have larger battery capacities and therefore take longer to recharge on a particular charging point.
While only an indication, for an average EV, typical recharge times are as follows:
Slow AC 3kW: 6-8 hours;
Fast AC 7kW:3-4 hours;
Rapid AC/DC 43/50kW: 30-45 mins for 80%
In most cases, no. For drivers in and around London, another major running cost benefit is that EVs are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge, worth £11.50 per day. For a driver entering the Congestion Charge Zone most working days of the year, this can amount to a saving of almost £3,000 per year.
To qualify for the 100% Ultra Low Emission Discount, an EV must only emit up to 75g/km CO2 and meet at least the Euro 5 emissions standards. Cars meeting these criteria will need to be registered for an annual fee of £10, but then have free access to the Congestion Charge Zone.