Experiences of using electric vehicles (EVs)

This topic is for people to share their experiences of using electric vehicles.

It will be super helpful for anyone considering buying an electric car. We hope we can get experiences from every type of vehicle out there and then we’ll set up different threads for those different cars.

At some point we’ll write a full ‘Ultimate Guide to Finding the right Electric Vehicle’

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I am on EV number 5, so I’m a bit of a veteran.

I’ve had 2 of the early Renault Zoes, a 30kwh LEAF, a 40KWH LEAF & I have just collected a new i3S 120Ah. At no point in 5 years of EV driving have I felt driving an EV has compromised my ability to complete a trip, mostly I guess due to actually planning my longer trips carefully, to have a contingency plan should my preferred charge point on the route fail to work.

The Zoe was cheap “in” to the world of EV’s, sadly the first Zoe died after 4 days with traction battery failure.

Along came Zoe 2, after a week it had A/C issues that resulted in multiple, repeat returns to the Renault garage to have rectified, after a year of Zoe 2 I decided it was time to move to a more grown up EV, that’s when the 30kwh LEAF came along.

The 30kwh LEAF was an excellent car, I could never get away from it’s ugly duckling looks though. Add to that the fact I was travelling from Bristol to the Williams F1 teams base in Oxfordshire every day a further range upgrade was needed as I really wanted to do the trip without stopping to charge, fortuitously the 40kwh LEAF was announced at the same time.

I collected the 40kwh LEAF 2.Zero on 1st March 2018, the snowiest day I can remember for many years. This car was excellent, the range was great, I loved the Spring Cloud Green colour, it had a great level of standard equipment including steering assist & intelligent cruise control. It was quiet, smooth, comfortable…and theirin lay the problem for me. I’m a massive car nut, I’ve raced cars & karts for year, so the car was just too…dull. So an alternativ, more exciting EV was required.

I was all set to lease a Tesla Model on a 4year agreement (25k miles a year) until I realised the warranty was only 50k miles, that would entail me running a Tesla (arguable not the most reliable car around) for 2 year, unwarrantied, with the associated risk of Tesla-esque repair bills.

Now I’ve always thought the BMW i3 was a funky looking car, so arranged with Cotswold BMW to borrow one for a weekend, the same weekend we spent looking at Kia e-Niros & Hyundai Kona EVs. The deduction after a long weekend with it was that it had stupid doors & a tiny boot, but a certain charm I could not put my finger on. Maybe it was my inner geek, I’m a motorsport designer, so the bare carbon appealed, as did the low (for an EV) kerb weight. Clearly the design team at BMW knew what they were doing.

The loan car was returned on the Monday morning, we did some numbers on a standard i3, 2 year lease & the figures were great, however, all the time the i3S in the showroom was calling my name, nagging in the back of my mind, it’s looked so smart. As luck would have it there was no stock of standar i3’s in the country, so I simply “had to have” the I3S that was in the showroom, how unfortunate!!!

It’s a different animal to the standard i3, stiffer roll bars, spring & dampers, heavier steering, wider tires on bigger rims & a few 10ths off the traffic light grand prix 0-60 all add up to something that, for an EV, feels rather special & is actually a great drivers car.

Sure nothing gets you away from the fact fact the tyres are very narrow, so cornering speeds are grio, not bravery limited, but with a deft touch on the steering & throttle very decent pace can be maintained. A car you actually have to drive, which is after all what I was after.

As a side note it would appear to be about 10%more efficient than the LEAF 40kwh on the same daily commute.

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This is totally awesome - that @i3Stormtrooper! The analysis on how you chose the car in the end it amazing, and the stuff about Tesla is super interesting… it’s been my kind of dream car up until your comment.

Thought for the peeps out there it’s worthwhile sharing what these cars look like:

Renault Zoe 2

Nissan Leaf

Tesla Model

BMW i3 - the chosen car!

After 16 quite happy and reliable years with a Subaru, it got to the stage where I decided I had to get something newer before something broke leaving me stranded and with a big repair bill.

I went for an Outlander PHEV, which would do my 30 mile daily commute on electric for about £1 on economy 7, but would still be able to do long distance day trips with the other half, our 3 teenagers and luggage, as well as doing my job, of doing occasional long distance journeys to deliver and install a load of computer and network equipment to the other end of the country.

When I worked out how much cheaper it was running an EV, we sold our ageing Honda Civic that the other half used, and replaced it with a Kia Soul EV, which she loves driving, and I love how cheap it is to run.

Then I had a funny moment in the Tesla shop on the last day of the 1% finance deal, so the Outlander has now gone, and I have a Model X.
The monthly HP payments are a bit painful, but the running costs (so far) have been only very slightly more than bugger all.

One of the reasons that I bought a Tesla is because of the 8 year/unlimited mileage warranty on the battery, drive motors and associated electronics in the power train that make the car go.
At the time of purchase, I thought 5 miles/50,000 miles warranty on “everything else” sounded quite good as well.
Now that I’m at 16 months and 33,000 miles, I do think it would have been nice if it was more than 50,000 miles. But from what I’ve seen online of others with the odd broken seat at 100,000 miles, or the odd door handle that has been replaced when cars are out of warranty, it doesn’t concern me yet.

From your history, I guess you lease cars for a year or two, then hand them back? So you pay a monthly fee and anything else is the maker or leasing company problem.
I am “old fashioned” and prefer the idea of “ownership” so I guess the warranty should matter more to me.
My current “plan” is to keep the car until it is about 7 years old because that will be my 60th birthday, at which point, I might want to downsize to something smaller and more sensilble, like a Tesla Model Y?

I have had a go in a BMW i3, I thought it was quite nice, but from what I’ve seen online, I don’t think I would want to own one that is out of warranty.

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So I’m new to the whole EV thing having purchased a used VW E-Up! about a month ago. I was on a fantastically low budget but was desperate to go electric, primarily to help minimise my CO2 output. I set up a search alert for an accident damage repaired EV on eBay and surprisingly one came up in a couple of days. It was also the electric version of exactly the same car I currently owned! That weekend I had the car. Three weeks later I had an OLEV grant mostly subsidised home charger installed. I think the first thing I’d say to prospective EV buyers is that they needn’t be expensive. You can pick up a perfectly serviceable car with a range of between 70 and 90 miles for £5-7K. I hadn’t considered buying a hybrid of any kind as my petrol VW Up! was as economical as the best of the hybrids anyway.

In terms of using the EV, I love it. Plain and simple. It has revolutionised driving for me. Having never even sat in an EV before picking mine up, the experience is on another level and our family diesel now feels like a horrible old tractor (it will also soon be replaced with a cheap EV). I haven’t felt compelled to just go for a drive since I first passed my test at 17 and a month in and I still just want to get in this thing and drive! It is a different mindset to fossil fuelled cars. Not necessarily in a bad way as they both have their pros and cons. I automatically plug in when I arrive home. Family days out involve parking at places that offer charging more for the fun of it than needing the charge. Commuting to work has sometimes meant plugging the granny charger into a wall socket. Conversely, I’m saving a ton on fuel costs, congestion charges, low emissions charges and road tax. It cost £40 more per year to insure than my previous petrol Up! although that was because it was CAT S rather than being electric. And another great thing? driving past petrol stations and noticing the price rises!

My advice to folks thinking about making the switch on a low budget, enter it with a sense of adventure. It’s honestly a real blast and I certainly won’t be going back to a fossil fuelled car. If you’ve got the money for something with impressive range, you’ve absolutely nothing to worry about.

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Hi. I have been driving a Nissan Leaf (30kwh) for 2 years now and have covered 23000 miles. My partner and I had taken one out for a test drive several years earlier (a 24kwh) and loved the experience, setting it firmly in our minds as a goal for the future. However, at that time there was hardly anywhere to charge it (I live in a flat and cannot park near to home, so cannot have a home charger), and the range was not quite enough for my needs.

So when Nissan contacted me half way through the lease of my petrol car offering me an upgrade, I boldly told them I was only interested in a 30kwh Leaf. Amazingly, they put together a great deal and I was able to swap to electric much earlier than I expected. My partner was now working in Bristol and had started getting the bus to work, and we were able to go from a two petrol car family, to a one EV family.

The cost savings have been significant, as I no longer pay road tax, and servicing is less than £100 each time. My fuel costs vary between £5-50 per month, depending on how many freebies I get. Although my fueling costs are higher because I use the public network rather than at home, I do get these freebies from time to time which often evens things out. I used to pay around £120 each month on petrol.

As well as the clear benefits of knowing I can travel around as much as I like without worrying about adding to emissions, the car is just good fun to drive, and incredibly easy.

I do about 250 miles in a normal week and need to charge 2-3 times.
We have had some longer trips too. Bristol to Norfolk and Lincoln, and to Wales, to Cornwall and to Yorkshire. One holiday week took in 1050 miles and cost just £14.15.

I do spend some times waiting at the charger, but often use this time to make calls, go for a walk or do some reading. Mostly though, I’ll have a wee and a coffee, or charge while I’m doing other things nearby. The rapid chargers can top the car up in less than half an hour. One of the regular pumps I use is at my workplace, so can fuel up while I’m working too.

You do need to think differently and make sure you plan for longer journeys, but I have never yet run out of juice. Not everywhere in the country is well served with chargers so people need to do some research before going ahead, as there are different types of chargers. Also, as with petrol vehicles, getting the right car for your needs will make all the difference to how well it works out for you.

From next year, there is going to be a huge choice available, and I’m really looking forwards to choosing my next one when the lease on this one runs out next summer. For sure though, we will stay with EV, and are proof that you don’t have to have a home charger for it to work well.

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I too purchased my Tesla with a view to keeping it long term, I tend to keep my cars for over 10 years (the BMW I had for almost 17 years!)

There are several companies out there that will offer you a warranty over the 50K point and probably well worth it.

For me I had, on loan, the BMW i3 for a week and the Leaf for a week but I wanted to be able to get to my sons’ uni (one in Leicester and the other in Bournemouth) without having to stop to charge and when I did I wanted it to be as short as possible. 18 months on still love it and still go out for a drive for no reason other than I want to. Virtually £0 spent on fuel as the super charging if free for life when I purchased the car and the local Lidl and Asda / Cineworld have free chargers - great for shopping and my weekly movie day.

Love the over the air updates and new features as and when they come on line.

With all the other cars due out next year and the new faster over 100Kw chargers coming on stream I might have opted for a different car. It is a personal choice i.e. kids, dogs, ski, cycle and towing all play a part in your decision; and with a Tesla model x so do 6’ 6" width restrictions"

For anyone thinking about it I can only say go for it. Once you do you wont look back especially with the new chargers coming on line it will make it easier to make long journeys.

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We first had a Gen 1 (2011) Leaf for a year loved the light interior and limousine like handling but after a year I had a longer commute and the resistive heating killed the range in winter. So part ex for a Gen 2 (2014) 24kWh Acenta the ride was firmer but the heating hardly effects the range in comparison it also has 6.6kW charging which was another great improvement in the car’s usability.

It was joined by a 22kWh Zoe (2015) which was a nice car but the Zoe battery chemistry is more effected by temperatures than the Leaf giving it more range than the Leaf in summer but less than a winter Leaf. My wife was getting nervous but along came our Zoe Q90i (2017) which is presently our long range BEV (150 miles average range) and she has no worries. As a package the Zoe is a very capable car and surprisingly large/versatile but not as polished as the Leaf. The heater is a lot noisier on the outside of the car and under heavy heating you get a gentle vibration inside the car just like an ICE. As is well documented the Zoe can be fussy where it charges but I have only had a few instances. To get the best out of the Q90 charging the battery needs to be low and warm but it does have thermal management which operates at even very low temperatures so it does a very basic pre warm I guess.

Now the interesting long drive charging infrastructure well in the Leaf you are spoiled every service area has 1, 2 or 3 Chademo reliably working but AC is only marginally better than CCS for availability but more reliable than CCS but I am obviously talking Ecotricity. AC does have the down side of PHEV being plugged in on Rapids but obviously a slow safety net for CCS BEV charging. We have done several 300 miles trips with ease but like any shorter wheel base car’s it is marginally less comfortable but I am splitting hairs as we always arrived fresher than when in an ICE.

Our Leaf is about to be replaced with an E Niro and with a range of about 250 miles with 70kW charging it is going to be the next big leap forward. I did toy with the idea of the model 3 but we needed a hatchback for our dog.

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I probably can’t add too much to this, but we bought a 40kwh Leaf in September last year, having done a fair amount of research and test driving in May (I won’t go into details of the appalling experience I had with Glyn Hopkin…)

We had been car free for 4 years but with ageing parents and families outside London and a dog, it was getting a bit impractical, so we took the plunge. Like some others we can’t charge at home as we have on street parking but luckily friends round the corner bought around the same time as us and have a driveway & garage so had a charger fitted.
We don’t use the car during the week as we live and work in London and I do my 11 mile commute by bike (my partner also does her local gardening job by bike) so we’re not charging on a regular basis, but our costs are low.
The car itself is comfortable, has plenty of room (we’ve just done our first camping trip) and is lovely to drive.
Lots of people talk about range anxiety but for me it just makes me plan my route a bit more carefully. So far we haven’t been caught out but I’m sure it will happen!
If you are travelling long distances on a daily basis it may not be time for you to go electric yet, but for weekend travelling it works really well. This weekend we did our longest trip so far from East London to the Peak District (189 miles). We stopped once to charge at Grantham which gave us plenty of juice for local driving around over the weekend. A downhill drive & a bit of a boost at a National Trust property on Sunday morning got us back to the services at Leicester Forest for a rapid charge & then home.
I would say that the charging infrastructure needs some improvement - unless you’re driving a Tesla. For example at Grantham there were 2 Electric Highway chargers but at least 8 Tesla ones with another 6 being installed while we were there!

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Is this true in people’s experience?

I started off with a Nissan Leaf back in 2015. My previous cars had either been hothatches or heavily modified off road vehicles, so this was very different. I got it as a 4 day test drive and needed to see if I could get to work and back (80 mile round trip) on a single charge. I didn’t buy new, as tbh, it is financially stupid considering the huge initial loss. I bought a 2014 24kwh Accenta for £11,600 with just 2,932 miles on it. The first thing I would say is that the NEDC rated range of 124 is a complete lie. I took it for a drive on a hot summers day, with very gentle acceleration, 50mph max, planned well ahead at junctions to minimise the amount of braking and just scraped 101.6 miles out of it before it went into reduced power mode, then into neutral, rolled to a stop and that was it. That car did me for 2 years and 40,000 miles. I spent £800 on electric, that was it!! So much cheaper than any petrol or diesel vehicle I have ever had. After a couple of years, it left me in trouble, in so much as I needed to respond to an emergency call out (I’m an Electrical Engineer by trade), but only had 16 miles of range left. It would have taken 4 hours to get enough charge to get to the job, which was no good. I jumped in a taxi, and had to swallow the cost of an 80 mile round trip. While I was in the taxi, I went on Tesla’s Certified Pre Owned website, just out of curiosity. I had always wanted one, and even test drove the P90DL the summer before, but they are so expensive. Anyway, I found a black P85 Model S, just under 3 years old with 23,000 miles. It was up for £45,500. This I could afford, although it was still the most expensive car I had ever bought. It came with free supercharging, no road tax, no congestion charge and servicing was optional, not compulsory. Performance was crazy fast. I had looked at a supercharged Ford Mustang, but this thing with its silence and ability to bury you in the seat, really was the car I was looking for. 0-60 is reported as 4.2 seconds, but the datalogger has it as 3.9 seconds. Quarter mile is 12.2 seconds. Range is 200 to 230 miles, depending on temperature and driving style. It is now 2 years it has done 54,000 miles since I got it, and yes, I will definitely get another. Tesla found me this one after I told them what I wanted. It originally had the 19" wheels, but I wanted the 21". This was a £4500 option when new. The sales guy said “silver or dark grey”? To which I said dark grey. He replied with “OK, done”. No charge. Straight swap. Needless to say, I was very impressed. There are things you need to remember with these cars. They are a computer on wheels, and, just like Microsoft, they hang sometimes. A quick press of a couple of buttons and it resets and off it goes. The other thing to remember is that you can lose your licence so easily with this. The national speed limit is gone in under 5 seconds, and an instant ban in 10 seconds. I have raced Aston Martins, Audi R8 V10, Ferrari, Lamborghinis, some can’t keep with me, others struggle like hell to lose me. That is where it is at, and the new P100DL, well that flattens them all :grin::sunglasses:

I recently bought a second hand 2014 Renault Zoe as a commuter car and here are my thoughts on the pluses and minuses of owning an electric car.

My experience of owning this car has been overwhelmingly positive, to the point where when my 2012 Hyundai i40 needs replacement, I am certain to buy an electric car to do so. I’ve only done 3000 miles in it personally, and I guess owning a second hand model means that the early failures mentioned in the first post have been weeded out!

Most people ask about the range when I say I have an electric car and to be fair, it only has a real world range of 80 miles. This is not a problem for me as my commute is only a 25 mile round trip, so I can get two days of commuting and also trips around town out of it before I need to charge. The dealership I purchased it from (EV Experts in Guildford) arranged for the installation of a faster charge point at my house so a full charge from 0% takes around 4 hours. I haven’t ever had a problem with the battery being close to empty, even when I have forgotten to charge it some nights. However, because of the range I have never thought about cross-country trips in it, apart from the journey back from the dealership. Even this was painless, with a 45 minute stop at Beaconsfield services for lunch with a recharge on an Ecotricity point.

In terms of driving experience, I found it is very similar to driving an automatic with a few subtle differences. I find pulling away from traffic lights and junctions always enjoyable, despite the Zoe having one of the less powerful electric motors available. The power does run out at higher speeds though, so I haven’t bothered trying to get it above 70 mph, although there a few places to do so on my commute. The fact that there’s also almost no sound from the motor makes driving around town at 30 very pleasant. It took a little getting used to maximising the use of the regenerative braking, but now its second nature. I miss it when I go back to driving the i40. I’m also in love with the ability for the car to deice/precool itself. As long as the car is plugged in, you can set the heater or AC to run before you get into the car, so last winter I never had to scrape ice off of the car. It was amazing. I have a 100% renewable energy supplier to my only concerns with charging are cost not carbon footprint.

The lower costs of running an electric car have already been pointed out above, so I won’t repeat it here. The Zoe is unique in that you rent the battery from Renault, so they will replace it if it drops below 80% capacity. The rental cost is dependant on your annual mileage, but it starts at £50. The benefit is it lowers the purchase price of the car, even secondhand, which was an important consideration for me as it was a second car, I knew I wanted it to be an electric car and I prefer to purchase outright rather than use loans (I know the rental agreement means I used a loan to purchase the battery). I purchased mine with 17000 miles for £6500.

Like those above, I thoroughly recommend people purchasing a new car to consider electric. A couple of my coworkers have even followed through on my advice after they saw my experiences with the Zoe!

I’m not sure as I hadn’t had a car for over 4 years when we bought ours, so had to start from scratch with zero no claims bonus. The insurance certainly isn’t cheaper than a petrol/diesel car but I don’t think I found it any more expensive than I expected. Having said that, LV are advertising an EV specific insurance and the quote I got on that is more than I’m paying at the moment!

I am just over one year in being a full BEV car owner. I bought an IONIQ last March 2018. Within a week I was driving from the Wirral to Thetford. Then shortly after down to Southampton. I have driven for work around Liverpool and longer journeys up to Inverness and over to France. In fact I am off to France again in August.
Talking to people over the past year I have been asked about various issues.

  1. What happens when you run out of charge? My rely s always, “the same as your car, it stops.” I then ask them how any times they have run out of energy. The answer Is always, “never”.
  2. You can’t go up hills. I think this really is stating that EVs have no oomph to get anywhere. I may say that apart from getting to the top of the steepest road pass in England, the Hard Knott pass. I often follow motorcycles away from the lights and keep up as they race away. My EV has more than enough oomph.
  3. There just isn’t the infrastructure yet. Well this is partially true. Although almost all motorways and expressways have rapid charge stations, the Ecotricity stations can be a little unreliable. But there is plenty of choice nearby.
  4. You have to keep stopping. True, but many think I stop for over an hour while I refill. I generally a lot 30 mins for a recharge. Not much longer than stopping off for a toilet stop, or a food stop.
  5. Electric cars cost too much. True. But, the five thousand extra for my car will be more than paid back by the savings in fuel. I reckon after 15 months I have saved about £1600.
    There are a few niggles that need to be sorted out soon. There are a few different charging companies running charging stations. They all (with one exception) need either a smart phone app or an RDFI card. I have managed to collect seven different cards so far, two of which are for northern France. Yes it is the same problem across Europe. Only one company have a contactless method to pay with no ‘enrolling’.

My EV is by far the best car I have driven over the forty something years I have been driving. My best extra is the variable cruise control. I can set it on a motorway say for 70mph. If the traffic slows the car automatically slows as well. I usually use it to trail behind tall lorries and ‘slip stream’ them gaining some of their energy.

I am on a 4year PCP but aim to buy the car at the end of the contract.

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We too had a couple of the early Zoe’s and a Nissan Leaf Tekna. We now have a Q90 Zoe, today my wife took it out on a 26 mile trip, started with 175 miles, returned with 174 miles, no charging just Regen, go figure !. Taking delivery of a Range Rover p400e shortly which has a 30 (25) mile electric range which suits my wife’s daily driving profile with caravan towing on the weekends. Wanted a Tesla X but just stupid money to lease…one day !

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I’m just starting to research electric vehicles and these comments are really helpful. I did not realise there was so much choice. Has anyone experience of the self-charging vehicles (which I think would overcome the range problem)? I was thinking of the Lexus EV for example.

If your looking for a secondhand EV we just got our first -2017 30kW Leaf Tekna- for a great price (under 15K with 8 years battery warranty) from https://drive-green.co.uk/ load of EVs in stock. A really nice company paired with owner Richards other company ‘completely green’ has loads of great info and stuff matching up with the community aims methinks. Puuuuump it.

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Good work Greg!!!

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the self-charging thing is advertising trickery. Longer range is being deployed by many brands imminently… I recommend this video and the channel in general- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQQu_ux3y6M

Hello,

I recently sold my BMW i3 (purchased second hand in 2016) - I recorded all expenses incurred over the three years of ownership and have published this in the hope that it’s helpful for anyone considering getting an electric vehicle. I can’t charge at home and rely on the public charge networks, but even with this, the fuel worked out at around 2.19p per mile. It’s over here in a blog post:

Hope this is helpful to someone here :slight_smile:

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