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Guide to electric vehicles 2018

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Welcome to Zap-Map’s guide to electric vehicles (EVs). With most countries committed to phasing out conventional vehicles, car manufacturers are now investing heavily in EVs, and new plug-in models are being released regularly. In fact many manufacturers have committed to including substantial numbers of EVs across their model ranges within the next three to ten years.

Use Zap-Map’s EV basics, EV buying guide, Available models, and EV charging guide pages to learn about this rapidly expanding market and what vehicles may be best suited for you. Zap-Map has also created a unique Connector Selector tool to clarify compatibility between chargers/connectors and the different EV models.

Plug-in options

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Electric vehicles are made up of three main types: battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and range-extended EVs (REX). ‘Plug-in options’ is designed to help you understand the pros and cons of each EV type.

The key differences are that battery EVs have no combustion engine, relying only an on-board battery which provides energy to an electric motor. Plug-in hybrid EVs have an electric powertrain together with an on-board combustion engine, which enables operation in full-electric mode, using conventional fuel, or a blend of both. Range-extended EVs are plug-in hybrids with a particular configuration. The ‘series hybrid’ set up sees a small engine act as an on-board generator to top up the battery’s charge, and only the electric motors drive the wheels.

In general, pure-electric vehicles are perfect for city driving, commuting, regular delivery routes, and all short- to medium-distance trips which are predictable. However, successful use of a BEV also requires access to a home or workplace recharging unit and, to permit longer journeys, access to the public charging network. In contrast, PHEVs and REXs offer longer range and fuel flexibility in that they can be charged directly using any suitable source of electricity or can be refuelled using petrol or diesel.

EV benefits

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Electric vehicles offer a number of benefits over conventional petrol or diesel models. Lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance bills, and zero or discounted car tax are just some of the ways that running costs are reduced, while environmental impacts are also significantly reduced. The ‘EV benefits’ section explore the benefits offered by switching to an EV.

As well as reducing running costs, another key advantage offered by EVs is an improved driving experience; the majority of electric cars are fun to drive and highly responsive. The torque available from an electric motor means that the initial acceleration offered by even standard EVs is more than offered by many sports cars. Add to this the fact that electric vehicles are ideally suited to stop-start city driving, with many EV owners citing lower driving stress, switching to an EV can be a practical choice for many drivers.

EV models also tend to be well equipped, sitting towards the top of a manufacturer’s trim levels, helping to improve the value-for-money offering. Electric-specific features also mean there is plenty of on-board tech available for EV drivers.

EV buying guide

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There are a large number of electric vehicles available to suit a range of driver needs. This EV buying guide walks through the benefits of different systems, and the surrounding decisions required to make an EV work for you.

Pure-electric vehicle driving ranges are improving regularly, and newer models can comfortably cover more than 250 miles on a single charge – enough for many car buyers to consider owning and running one. For those regularly covering longer distances, rapid charging can come in to play for pure-EVs, or PHEVs may be a better option.

Covered are mileage considerations, running costs, budgets, grants available, and what charging infrastructure is available to keep the EV running efficiently.

Available models

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Most mainstream car makers now offer high-quality electric models. As of 2018, there are more than 100 fully- or part-electric vehicles available to buy or lease in the UK. The choice of electric vans is more limited than electric cars, yet their number is set to increase in the next few years.

To help you assess the specifications of new EV models, Zap-Map has compiled a list of all new EVs which are available in the UK. The list includes all vehicle classes from superminis to SUVs, and sports cars to people carriers. Details include the OTR price, electric range, charging options and official CO2 emissions.

The list, which is regularly updated, is searchable by manufacturer and/or vehicle class. Powertrain options, such as battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV and REX) or hydrogen (FCEV) can also be selected to help you find the right EV model to suit your needs.

EV charging guides

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With the EV market growing at a rapid pace, there are now a large number of models to choose from. While this is good from the point of consumer choice, given the wide number of vehicle options, this also means that there are many issues to consider when choosing which EV model is right for you.

In particular, the charging capabilities (and inlet options) of different models is a key aspect of vehicle choice. To complicate matters, different EV models can charge at different slow and rapid speeds depending on what on-board charger has been fitted, with most plug-in hybrids unable to rapid charge. Battery capacities also have a significant influence on charging speeds, with the larger EV batteries more likely to require rapid charging.

To help you understand the strengths of each particular EV model, Zap-Map has created a number of EV charging guides for the UK’s best selling electric vehicles. These guides cover all aspects of charging an EV, and include models from the likes of BMW, Nissan, Renault, Tesla, and Volkswagen.