Buying my first EV - Part 1, they're affordable?

TL;DR: I'm getting an EV and wow they're cool.

Welcome to the first in my EV blog series! I plan to try and do a post every 2-3 weeks about my EV experience and will blog extra bits which you may have seen elsewhere already or maybe not at all. This will also be my only car and I'm not a named driver on any others.

Today I have taken the first steps of buying an EV and placed a deposit for my new (used) Zoe.

When I began to think of potentially upgrading my Fiat Panda I thought the only reason I might upgrade is to get an EV purely because as an petrol car the Fiat Panda had everything I needed and got good MPG.

One major factor for me is well, my age which affects primarily my insurance and the cost of the car itself. I found the Zoe as when searching locally for EVs the local renault dealer had 2 used Zoes (one 14 reg and the other 64 reg) for £4,995. Not too bad of a price with a beginning lookup showing potentially a quite decent trade in for my Panda as while I've had it for 2 years it was in still very good condition.

Obviously there's multiple questions when buying an EV Including:

  • What range can I get?
  • What Cables do I need and are included?
  • What chargers are there nearby?
  • What are the costs?
    And more!

To begin, the range!
Now the biggest downside of an EV is the range, my Fiat Panda can do around 300-350 miles with one tank of petrol. Primarily enough to do a 120 mile round trip that I do every few months.

This is the biggest downside, brand new the Zoe claims to do 120 miles which is borderline. I still need to look into the current capacity of the used one I'm getting as it could be as low as 90 miles. Other factors such as how you drive and the speeds affect how far the range in much like a petrol car but are more noticable.

However, my usual day to day driving is less than 20 miles of which is only around 20% of the battery being used making it quite an convincing thing to get now.

Cables & Chargers
What cables are included will likely vary based on the dealer / private etc and the model of car. With my Zoe I will be getting a type 2 to type 2 which allows me to use public charging points from the get go and your house if you get one fitted. These can usually do between 3.6 to 22KW and in most cases higher.

At the same time I've also ordered a 3 Pin to Type 2 cable or "Granny cable", this allows me to begin with charging off of a normal 3 Pin socket at around 2.5-3KW which is the slowest you can charge at. However due to the fact that you can use 3 Pin sockets its usually considered a good purchase, in my case when I get to my destination after my 120 Mile journey I'll likely need to charge up using this cable.

To begin I am just using the 3 Pin cable and plan too for 1-2 months as my main method, this is because my garage already has 2 Sockets and with a kit from a DIY retailer in the UK I've got a single socket to an IP66 dual socket which is on the outside via a plug RCD.

Later on I do plan to get a charger but would rather save up and get a 7KW charger than a 3.6KW, this will also require a 15-20M run of 32-40A Cable and an extra fuse on the fuse box. Currently it's looking at between £200-250 to get a basic 7KW one installed with the grant taken into account.

Costs of owning an EV, its cheaper?
One of the most common things I see about EVs is that they are cheaper to run than a petrol car, this varies quite a lot based on what car you get and a few other factors.

Notably with the Renault Zoes most models have the batteries on a hire scheme which is where I don't own the batteries and pay a contract for them. In my case £59 a month with an allowance of 6000 Miles in the next year which is just below my current yearly average. When you account this in, this brings the EV on par with my current Fiat Panda which get great MPG.

However you still have the electric on top so in my case it works out at around £16 a month more to run, however if in a year my milage has decreased then I can cut down the rental to £49. Furthermore if I do less milage the electric would be on average £10 a month. If I had a less fuel effecient car then I would be making a saving by far.

But there are some other factors that play, for example from what I have researched the Zoe costs only £80 to get serviced by the Renault dealer where as my fiat panda cost £210 for it's service by the Fiat dealer. This is from where there's simply less to service (In my Fiat's case it had the spark plugs replaced, oil replaced, filters changed etc).

The tax saving isn't much, my current car is ony £30 a year where as the Zoe is £0, while less than the £30 its not a major factor.

This means over a year when accounting in the tax and service savings it's around the same for me. In the future the renault battery hire cost may decrease as this from what I have seen used to be £70 for the basic hire.

Finally insurance, the Zoe I'm getting is a group 16 which is much higher than my group 4 Fiat, however some how my insurance company calculates a £20 refund after only having the insurance for 1 month.

In my case the battery being on the hire scheme is what makes it possible for me to own an EV so I'm happy to do it, when searching around second hand EVs the first which wasn't a Zoe with a battery lease was a Nissan leaf at around £8,000. That calculates at £3,000 more which over a 3 year span works out at £83 a month equivilent so is much cheaper for an average ownership of a car.

It's an automatic!
Finally on the last note, most (if not all) are automatic which to some may not seem an issue but today was my first time driving one! Most cars in the UK are manual and it usually costs a lot more for an automatic.

However my test drive went well and I suspect the more I drive the better I'll get with it.

That's all for this one! Next post on Friday

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