EV Frequently Asked Questions

Are you contemplating joining the Electric Vehicle revolution and looking to purchase an Electric Car? If so, you’ve probably got some questions regarding safety and usage of your potential vehicle. Having installed Electric Vehicle Chargers for both commercial and domestic users for many years now we’ve had our fair share of questions. With this in mind we’ve put together some common EV Frequently Asked Questions that we’ve been asked. We’ve even included some that our customers have said they felt too embarrased to ask but are legitimate questions none the less.

Are Electric Car Batteries safe?

Modern electric car batteries are run on lithium-ion batteries, similar to what you will find in your mobile phone. Unfortunately, there have been reports in the news that in the wrong conditions these can be flammable.

The reality is that these instances are very few and far between. No electrical system is infallible, indeed conventional vehicles have electrical faults at the moment.

Rest assured, modern day batteries are engineered to ensure that even the chance of this is incredibly unlikely. They have to be under strict safety laws.

Battery manufacturers go to extensive lengths to make sure EV batteries are safe. Electric Vehicle batteries generate heat while operating and being charged.

So manufacturers fit smart management systems to prevent them from overheating. As a result modern EV’s are designed to keep batteries cool. In fact, in some high performance Electric Vehicles, liquid cooling systems are used to facilitate cooling.

Electric Vehicle Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a shock from my Electric Vehicle?

Whilst any piece of equipment that uses electricity can be a potential hazard, electric vehicle manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure this risk is minimised. As most EV’s operate between 12 volts and 48 volts they are unlikely to discharge a fatal shock. It’s simply not a high enough voltage. In fact, due to the safety measures put in place e.g. heavily insulated charging cables, the most you’re likely to get is a small static electric shock in the same way that you do by touching a normal vehicle.

Can you drive through large puddles?

This is one of those EV Frequently Asked Questions that people were too afraid to ask for fear of appearing silly and hyet it’s a really good question! As with a tradition vehicle you should always take care when driving through standing water. Depths of as little as 20cm deep can, if travelled through too quickly, disrupt the operation of your vehicle. Traditional vehicles have an air intake system, if this fills with water then the engine is affected and will stop.

Electric Vehicles do not have this issue but they are fitted with circuit breakers, these are encased along with the battery. If the battery is submerged in water the electrical system can be disrupted and the breakers will trip. Then you’re stranded. And as the battery is at the base of the vehicle the depth doesn’t have to be large to cause this. So always take care when thinking about driving through standing or moving water.

So can I use a car wash then?

In short, yes. All vehicles, regardless of whether they’re electric or not are put through a “soak test”. This ensures that their are no leaks that could cause water ingress. NB, this does not include submerging the battery as when driving through deep water above but you do not face these conditions in a car wash. Feel safe in the knowledge that you can still use your favourite car wash.

Electric Vehicle Frequently Asked Questions

Does air conditioning affect the battery in the way that it affects performance in a normal car?

It does but there are ways to mitigate this. Using your air con on maximum can reduce the range of your Electric Vehicle by as much as 15%. That can equate to 45 miles less on 300 mile range at full charge. Nowadays most electric vehicles are fitted with something called “Preconditioning”. This is a nifty feature that lets you cool down the vehicle interior before you drive off. If you’re savvy and activate this feature while your vehicle is charging overnight, not only will it be cheaper but it then wont affect your batteries range!

Can I charge devices like tablets and mobile phones like I can in my current car?

Absolutely, if your vehicle is fitted with a USB port then charge away. Although it will not have an enormous drain on the car battery it will be taking some of the “juice”. 

So in most vehicles you can enable your manufacturers version of Eco mode. This will limit the electricity available for things like device charging. As a consequence they’ll take a bit longer to charge than usual.

How long do Electric Vehicle batteries last?

This is one of the EV Frequently Asked Questions that we get asked the most. No wonder when batteries are several thousands of pounds to replace!

The most commonly used electric vehicle battery is the lithium-ion version, similar to what you will find in your mobile phone. Any lithium-ion battery has a finite lifespan. So, as with a mobile phone a little bit of capacity is lost every time you fully charge it. This means the cars range will gradually decrease over time.

But don’t be too alarmed. The mileage you would need to complete is around 100,000 miles before you need to fork out on a new battery. Most owners would have traded in or come to the end of their lease period by this time.

Can I tow my caravan if I buy an Electric Vehicle?

Currently, there are only a few vehicles that are “type-approved” for towing. So you really need to do your research if you intend it for this purpose. It’s all to do with how the EV’s motor and braking systems are set-up. Electric vehicles are significantly heavier than conventional vehicles. So adding the weight of a caravan or trailer may place a strain on the engine. The brakes are also different on Electric Vehicles, their regenerative braking systems are used to slow the car quickly and recapture kinetic energy which then charges the battery. This system may have an effect on what you’re towing.

As a result, most EV’s are not suitable at the moment. But there are vehicles out there built for this purpose so contact a dealer or manufacturer first.

Do I need to get my Electric Vehicle serviced?

Like any piece of equipment with a motor or moving parts it’s always advised to get it serviced to ensure smooth, safe running. And electric vehicles are no different. Most warranties stipulate that you need to service your vehicle within the manufacturers guidelines. The good news is, as electric vehicles have significantly less parts than a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle they cost less to service. And nowadays, the electric motors used are incredibly reliable so need very little attention.

Can I drive an Electric Vehicle with a normal driving licence?

Yes, you can. But be aware that if you pass your driving test in an Electric Vehicle, they don’t have gears. As a result you will only be issued with an automatic driving licence.

This means you’ll be unable to drive a geared, manual vehicle until you have retaken your test in a manual vehicle. But hopefully, you’ll be so taken with your Electric Vehicle that you wont want to go back to a manual!

Can I improve the range I get out of my EV?

There are a number of things that you can do to positively affect the range you get from your EV. One of the factors that affects battery charge, and hence range, is the use of air conditioning and/or heating.

Both of these features will use battery power so reducing their use (weather permitting) will prolong the battery charge.

Driving licence needed for EV driving

As with a conventional petrol/diesel vehicle your driving style can also have a great impact on your mileage range. Driving at higher speeds uses more energy. As does aggressive acceleration. Both will significantly decrease the range available to you. Learning how to effectively use the in-built regenerative braking system can also reduce the rate at which your battery’s charge will drop. Finally, and not necessarily within your control, the outside temperature impacts range. Batteries much prefer warm rather than cold conditions so, if possible, ensure your vehicle is kept undercover or in a garage in colder weather. We’ve put together some top tips when it comes EV charging that you can read here.

Are EV batteries recycleable?

One of the most common EV Frequently Asked Questions we’re asked. There has been a lot of reporting in the media around the issue of what happens to electric vehicle batteries once they’re no longer useable for your EV. Contrary to some reports EV batteries can currently be re-used for static energy storage. Indeed, many manufacturers (e.g. Renault) are recycling all of their electric vehicle batteries. The issue is that this doesn’t always happen and not all manufacturers are as diligent as Renault.

As a result, governments around the world are currently setting manufacturers targets with regards to the amount of recycleable content that must be used in the production of new batteries. Particularly with regards to lithium, the major component that is all too often wasted. Currently, lithium is too cheap to source versus the cost of recycling. But improved methods of recycling and rising costs due to demand will turn this situation on its head in the next few years.

Manufacturers will be targetted with ensuring batteries are either recycled sufficiently or put to a second usage. So, in the not too distant future, used electric vehicle batteries will go back into the manufacturing process of new batteries, creating a closed-loop system for recycling and further reducing their carbon footprint.  

Do you have a question that we haven’t covered in our EV Frequently Asked Questions section? If so please feel free to get in contact with us, we’ll be happy to get you an answer.