London council installs EV charging points in LAMP POSTS

CityEV lamp post charging points

Barnet council in London has installed 40 electric car charging points in lamp posts. A second set of 40 CityEV charge points will be added in the autumn.

On top of the converted lamp posts, 30 stand-alone chargers will also be installed. Fully 22 of these will be outside two new leisure centres in Victoria Recreation Ground, while eight will be in car parks throughout the Barnet borough.

How long will it take to charge my car?

CityEV lamp post charging points

The chargers have a 3.5kw capacit, which means you gain just over 12 miles of charge per hour. Leave your plugged in between 8pm and 6am and you’d accumulate more than 100 miles of range.

These facilities aren’t perfect for a quick top-up, but an hour at the gym will likely give you back the range you lost getting there.

How much will it cost to use CityEV charge point?

CityEV lamp post charging points

Charging costs from 25p per hour, or about 2p a mile.

Worth it? Well, that means 300 miles costs £6. In a normal car, £6 gets you around one and a quarter gallons. Assuming your car does 40 miles per gallon, that’s 50 miles of driving.

Not included, of course, is the cost of parking, which is independent of the charging facility.

How will I pay to charge my EV?

The charge points accept contactless payment via the ‘EVopencard’. That means, in theory, quick and hassle-free payments, like at a petrol station.

“We expect the popularity of fully electric and hybrid cars to grow and grow in the coming years,” said Dean Cohen, chairman of Barnet council environment committee.

“Electric vehicles are cheaper, cleaner and greener than conventional cars, and an increasingly convenient way of getting from A to B. We are happy to support their development, improving air quality in our borough and giving our residents more options for getting about in an eco-friendly way.”

Can you jump start a car with an EV?

Can you jump start a car using EV

While it’s possible to jump start a car using an electric vehicle, it’s highly recommended that you don’t.

Electric cars feature two batteries: a large lithium-ion unit for the electric motors and a 12-volt battery for the accessories. This second battery is similar to the lead-acid battery found in petrol and diesel cars and it ensures the main lithium-ion battery can be charged.

However, the 12-volt battery in an electric car lacks the punch required to crank an internal combustion engine and you risk damaging it if you attempt to jump start another vehicle.

The RAC is pretty conclusive on the matter, urging motorists to “avoid using a hybrid electric car [for jump starting] as this could cause damage”.

Similarly, many manufacturers advise EV owners against jump starting conventional vehicles. In the handbook for the electric Leaf, Nissan states that it “cannot be used as a booster vehicle because it cannot supply enough power to start a [petrol] engine”.

However, it does go on to say that a conventional engine “can be used to jump start [the] Leaf’s 12-volt battery”.

‘Risk of damage’

Motorist holding jump leads

In the handbook for the Renault Zoe, you’ll find the following warning: “Do not use your electric vehicle to restart the 12-volt battery in another vehicle. The 12-volt electric power of an electric vehicle is not enough to perform such an operation. Risk of damage to vehicle.”

This could extend to unnecessary stress on the 12-volt battery, damage to the DC-to-DC converter, and confusion of the software that monitors the battery.

The internet is awash with examples of EV owners jump starting conventional cars, and some owners might risk it in an emergency, but it’s not recommended.

While it’s far from conclusive, a section in the handbook for the Tesla Model S suggests you might invalidate your warranty by jump starting another vehicle. It states: “Do not use the battery as a stationary power source. Doing so voids the warranty.”

However, there is some good news. Other electric vehicles can be jump-started – you just need to locate the battery. Also, you can indirectly charge a conventional car by using a charger that’s charged using the EV’s 12-volt DC outlet. There are plenty of options available online.

New electric car study reveals buyer ‘tipping points’

electric vehicle adoption tipping points

Just one in four people would consider buying an EV in the next five years, according to a Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) study into the adoption of electric cars and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

The research, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), reveals the ‘tipping points’ for when mainstream consumers are likely to adopt fully electric vehicles and PHEVs, with information gathered from vehicles and charge points for 584,000 miles of journeys and 15,700 charge events.

As part of the study, British motorists were given three different Volkswagen Golfs to drive for four days each: an electric e-Golf, a Golf GTE plug-in hybrid and a GT Edition.

The drivers were interviewed after the study, with 75 percent of them claiming they would not consider buying a fully electric vehicle within the next five years.

Rapid chargers will up the pace

BP Chargemaster rapid charging hub at Milton Keynes Coachway

But some of the other key findings painted a brighter picture for the adoption of electric vehicles. These include:

  • Fifty percent of consumers said they would choose a PHEV as a main or second car, or an electric vehicle as a second car, within the next five years.
  • Fifty percent of consumers would consider an electric vehicle as a main car if its range increased to 200 miles; increasing to 90 percent if the range was 300 miles.
  • Consumer adoption can be encouraged by the provision of rapid chargers every 20 miles on motorways and A-roads, along with the roll-out of 150kW chargers.
  • Direct financial incentives are critical to electric car adoption, with grants rated as the most important.

Adoption dictated by consumer demand

Honda e electric city car

Dr Neale Kinnear, head of behavioural science at TRL, said: “The need for cleaner, more efficient modes of travel is increasingly required to meet objectives such as the Road to Zero. However, the pace of this change will ultimately be dictated by consumer demand.

“With this ground-breaking CVEI project, TRL and its partners are providing vital evidence proving the mass market is willing to make the switch to electric vehicles, within particular parameters. The detailed findings will help inform UK and European policy and industry, including what is required by the energy sector to enable it to successfully contend with the resultant significant increase in electricity demand.”

Hannah Al-Katib, CVEI project manager, added: “This innovative project has required the expertise of a wide range of partners in order to deliver findings that will have real-world impact. As well as the data generated from this project, the unique challenges of delivering these ambitious and complex trials has provided insights into the types of challenges we face in transitioning to a future of zero emission vehicles.”

2025 will be ‘tipping point’ for electric cars, say experts

Electric car charging

The cost of buying an electric car will match conventional petrol or diesel models by 2025, say experts at Auto Trader.

This “tipping point” will see electric vehicle (EV) sales equal and then overtake internal combustion-engined (ICE) rivals. By 2030, the majority of new cars will be battery-powered.

More than 99% of UK journeys are within the range capability of today’s EVs. However, upfront cost remains a stumbling block for many. A new Renault Zoe costs £21,920, while an equivalent Clio diesel starts from £15,695.

Equally, the average price of a second-hand EV on Auto Trader is £17,744. That compares with £10,550 and £14,390 for used petrol and diesel cars respectively.

Volkswagen ID Buggy

Ian Plummer, Manufacturer and Agency Director at Auto Trader, says EV prices will tumble over the next six years. He highlights Volkswagen’s innovative MEB platform – used for the ID Buggy concept, pictured above – as one example of how costs will be slashed. MEB is due to underpin a whole range of electric cars.

Perceptions are changing apace, too. A year ago, just 25 percent of Auto Trader customers said they’d consider an alternative-fuel vehicle (hybrid or electric). Now, that figure is 71 percent.

The key to mass adoption of electric cars, says Plummer, is collaboration: between car manufacturers, governments, energy companies, infrastructure providers and telecoms firms. 

google maps electric car charging

Google Maps now shows where to charge your electric car

google maps electric car charge

Google has provided a solution to the problem of where to charge your electric car. The latest version of its Google Maps navigation app comes complete with charging locations.

It’s an issue we’ve contended with regularly when testing electric cars. We’ve often found ourselves giving up and draping a wire across the pavement from home. 

Unless you’re local and know your charge points, or have done some research ahead of setting off, finding a suitable charging point for your electric car can be tricky. Google’s latest Maps update should, in theory, lessen this struggle by including charging locations in its database – as it already does for petrol stations.

How does the Google Maps update work?

electric car charge

All you need to do is search for a keyword like “EV charging” and the nearest supported stations will be displayed.

Information on the types of ports available, charge speeds and how many ports there are is included, too. As with most registered locations on Maps, users will be able to upload photos, plus rate and review these charge points. Any businesses that feature chargers will also be able to add information on them within the app, too.

Charge points included for the UK are Tesla superchargers, Chargemaster and Podpoint, and coverage also includes the USA, Australia and New Zealand. We assume that will only expand in the future.

The update is available now and we’re keen to test it out.

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Electric car MOT

How much does servicing an electric car cost – and is it cheaper?

Electric car servicing

A new study by automotive data experts Cap HPI has revealed the average servicing and maintenance costs for electric cars. It shows that EVs cost, on average, 23 percent less to run than petrol vehicles over a three-year/60,000-mile period.

For smaller cars, the gap gets wider still. An electric Renault Zoe will set you back £1,100 in servicing and maintenance over three years, but a Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 90 Design costs nearly £1,500. That’s more than 35 percent extra.

The Nissan Leaf, currently the best-selling EV in the UK, costs just under £1,200 over three years. Compare that to the VW Golf 1.0 TSI at £1,429 and you’re staring at a saving of nearly 20 percent.

The number of electric vehicles on the road has jumped by 128 percent over the past three years, with more than 21,000 drivers taking the leap between April 2015 and April 2018. Purchasing costs are still notably higher than a comparable petrol-powered car, but servicing is where you can potentially claw that back.

Electric car servicing

As for the most popular EVs, the Nissan Leaf leads the BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Golf and Renault Zoe in the sales charts.

“An electric car motor has far fewer moving parts than a petrol or diesel engine” said Chris Plumb, senior valuations editor at Cap HPI.

“While the purchase price is often higher at the moment, but coming down all the time, drivers will find an EV much cheaper to run, with significantly lower costs to charge rather than visiting the pumps  plus lower maintenance costs.”

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Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longestRange anxiety – the fear of not making it to your destination without recharging – is a big concern for those buying an electric vehicle (EV). We’ve done the research and ranked 20 battery EVs currently on sale in order of range when fully charged.

It’s important to note that we are listing purely battery-powered vehicles here, so plug-in hybrids are not included. The range figures are from New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests. A new ‘WLTP’ test-cycle is well on the way to phasing out NEDC results, and thus some of the newest cars on this list have estimated range results. Prices quoted include government EV grants where relevant.

Renault Twizy – NEDC range: 62 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Is it a car? Well, technically the Renault Twizy is classed as a quadricycle, meaning it has to conform to limits on weight and power. Fitted with a 13kW (17hp) motor driving the rear wheels, the Twizy is capable of just 50mph. But being designed for city use suits it just fine, as does an NEDC range of 62 miles. Prices are also low, starting at £6,690, plus compulsory battery rental.

Citroen C-Zero – NEDC range: 93 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longestEssentially a rebadged version of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV – a car no longer sold in the UK – the C-Zero ups the power stakes to 49kW (67hp). The rear-mounted motor drives the back wheels, and is claimed to be capable of pushing the C-Zero to an 80mph top speed. Driving like that won’t help the 93-mile range, though. It costs from £16,020.

Peugeot iOn – NEDC range: 93 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Identical to the C-Zero in looks and powertrain, the Peugeot iOn also matches its 93-mile NEDC range. Similarly, it takes nine hours to charge from a domestic plug socket, but can be topped up to 50% capacity in just 15 minutes when connected to a rapid charger. The iOn costs £15,995 – big money for a car that has made only a small impact on the UK electric car market.

Volkswagen e-Up – NEDC range: 99 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Although Volkswagen is now fully embracing EVs, until very recently it chose to base electric cars on existing models. Out goes the regular petrol engine from the Up, and in comes a 60kW (82hp) electric motor powering the front wheels. Rapid charging will fill the 18.7kWh battery in just 30 minutes, and the e-Up enjoys a range of standard kit including parking sensors, cruise control and DAB radio. But, with a price of £21,140, this is a very expensive city car.

Smart EQ – NEDC range: 99 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

We’ve had the pleasure of little Smart cars on our roads for 20 years now. It seems like a car that should always have been electric-powered. As it happens, electric Smarts are available now, in three flavours no less: four-door ForFour, ForTwo Coupe and ForTwo Cabriolet. With less than 100 miles range, they’re not exactly long-distance haulers, but they’re certainly capable city cars. Pricey, though, with the ForTwo coupe kicking off the range from £20,920.

Volkswagen e-Golf – NEDC range: 144 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

It might look like a Golf but, as with the e-Up, this is anything but a normal VW underneath. There’s a 100kW (136hp) electric motor driving the front wheels, which makes the e-Golf capable of 0-62mph in mild-to-warm 9.6 seconds. The 214lb ft of torque also helps acceleration feel brisk, even if top speed is only 93mph. An NEDC range of 144 miles is just about reasonable, but the price is steep. The e-Golf starts from £32,730.

Morgan EV3 – NEDC range: 150 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

We’re still waiting on a finalised production version of this battery-powered Morgan 3 Wheeler, but it’s too cool not to include. Morgan claims the EV3 will have a range of 150 miles, along with the ability to hit 62mph in nine seconds and a top speed of 90mph. With a planned weight of less than 500kg, and packing a 20kWh battery, those figures are fully believable.

Kia Soul EV – NEDC range: 155 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

The Soul is a fairly unique looking vehicle to begin with, so Kia making it electric probably shouldn’t seem surprising. More startling is the price tag of £25,995. That represents a jump of more than £2,000 from the most expensive petrol-engined Soul, and makes this a direct competitor to premium rivals like the e-Golf. Notably, the EV still comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty like any other Kia model, which is a big deal in the EV world.

Nissan e-NV200 Combi – NEDC range: 174 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Ignore the fact it looks like a van, and that it even comes in van form. Nissan wants you to think of the e-NV200 Combi as an electric-powered people carrier. An ‘EVMPV’, if you will. With sliding rear doors, and seating for up to seven, it’s certainly one of the more practical ways to experience battery propulsion. The 0-62mph dash takes 14 seconds and top speed is just 76mph, but we doubt this is high on the list of priorities for any buyer – unlike the £30,480 list price.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric – NEDC range: 174 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

The Ioniq isn’t just one model. No, Hyundai has taken the path of building three versions of the same car: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery EV. With an 88kW (120hp) motor, the Ioniq is one of the few lower-end models with a top speed exceeding 100mph – admittedly by just 3mph. It also features a Sport Mode, which drops the 0-62mph time to 9.9 seconds when engaged. Keenly priced at £25,745, the Ioniq shows the benefits of designing an EV from the ground up, rather than converting a conventionally-powered model.

BMW i3 42kwh – NEDC range: 225 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

If you want a motorsport-style carbon-fibre chassis, rear-wheel-drive and 19-inch alloy wheels, an electric car might not be your first choice. But those features are exactly what the BMW i3 offers, along with an NEDC range of 225 miles with the recently revised 42kWh battery pack. You’ll also get 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, funky ‘suicide’ rear doors and the benefit of a premium badge. Prices for the updated model haven’t been confirmed yet, but the starting list price for the 33kwh car was £27,880.

Nissan Leaf 40kWh – NEDC range: 235 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

From £25,190, you now get an NEDC range of 235 miles in the new 2018 Leaf. The updated looks are less apologetic, the cabin is much more attractive and the real world range of 150 miles is workable. The second-generation Leaf is a major step on indeed. The e-Pedal makes driving easier than ever, too, with regenerative deceleration calibrated such that normal braking is just a matter of lifting off. What’s more, a 60kWh version with even more range should be here soon.

Renault Zoe R110 ZE 40 – NEDC range: 250+ miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Fitted with the larger ZE 40 battery and now available with the new R110 motor, the Zoe can be charged from 0-80 percent in just 65 minutes via an appropriate charging station and will cover an NEDC-equivalent 250 miles – real world, that’s around 180 miles. The old Q90 motor is still available, although overall range is compromised slightly. The main question is whether you rent or buy the batteries. The former leaves a starting price of £18,420, the latter more than £24,000.

Mercedes-Benz EQC400 80kWh – NEDC range: 280 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Beating the Audi E-tron to the punch was the EQC crossover SUV from Mercedes-Benz. Packing a comparatively small 80kWh battery, on balance, the EQC’s 280-ish NEDC equivalent range is impressive. While not using all of its 400hp, you can expect around 250 miles of real-world driving. Price-wise it shouldn’t be too far north of £60,000 when it arrives in 2019. Expect a veritable tidal wave of EQ-branded electric models from Mercedes going forward.

DS 3 Crossback E-Tense – NEDC range: 280 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Fresh from its Paris Motor Show debut is the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense. It’s the car that suggests an EV variant should be the norm. It packs a 50kWh battery and is good for an NEDC-rated 280-mile range. Not bad, but not quite up there with certain Korean rivals. It’s got French style on its side, though. No prices just yet, athough it shouldn’t cost much more than the Hyundai/Kia dream team…

Audi E-tron 95kWh – NEDC range: 300+ miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

The freshly-revealed Audi E-Tron is a relatively late entry to the EV market for a marque that’s been so publicly curious about electric power over the last decade. Still, better late than never. The E-tron looks promising to say the least. An official NEDC number hasn’t actually been quoted, but based on Audi’s 250-280-mile post-homologation estimates, that could reasonably see it past an NEDC-rated 300 miles. As well as that, you get up to 400hp and cameras instead of wing mirrors for your £71,000 or so. It marks the start of a 12-car Audi EV onslaught.

Jaguar I-Pace – NEDC range: 336 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

The Jaguar I-Pace has the Germans licked for now. Not only has it got to market months earlier, it also offers what seems to be superior range. While Audi and Mercedes are talking about between 250 and 280 miles of homologated range, Jag was there months ago with 280+ real-world miles or 336 miles on the NEDC cycle. Couple that with 400hp and startling looks to make the relatively humdrum Germans fade into the background and you’ve got a leader in this fledgling £60,000-£80,000 premium EV segment.

Tesla Model X P100D – NEDC range: 336 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

There are of course many variants in the Tesla range. The 90D Model X will get you 303 miles of NEDC driving. If you really need to make six passengers vomit profusely, but with the guilt-free feeling of using electric power, the Model X P100D is what you need. The ‘P’ stands for performance, and means a 100kWh battery pack mated to uprated electric motors. The result is a range of 336 miles, but a 0-60mph time of 2.9 seconds is the bigger party-trick for this £129,200 SUV.

Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh – NEDC range: 339 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Devoid of I-Pace levels of fanfare, Tesla levels of hype or E-tron levels of teasing, comes the humble circa-£30,000 Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh. It’s a silent revolution, obviously in terms of the powertrain but also in terms of fuss. It’s delivering premium EV range for half the price. You aren’t getting better range-per-pound anywhere else. There’s also a 40kWh model that manages an NEDC-rated 214 miles for around £5,000 less.

Kia e-Niro 64kWh – NEDC range: 339 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Borrowing much from its Hyundai Kona Electric sister car, the Kia e-Niro is just as impressive. A circa-£30,000 price point when the 64kWh model arrives seems tall for a Kia. However, as with the Hyundai, it’s I-Pace-beating range for half the price. If you value substance over style, these Korean EV twins rule the world right now.

Tesla Model S 100D Dual Motor AWD – NEDC range: 393 miles

Going the distance: electric car range from shortest to longest

Forgo the need to get ‘Ludicrous’ with your Model S and you can save £41,900 – and gain an additional 12 miles in NEDC range. The long-distance EV still achieves supercar-rivalling performance and, at present, offers the furthest you can go in an EV on a single charge. As with all the cars featured here, remember the NEDC range is purely for comparison purposes. Real-world figures will vary due to weather, driving style, and traffic conditions.

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Renault Zoe

Electric cars: what you need to know

Renault Zoe

In a depressed new car market, electric cars are a rare beacon of hope for the carmakers. Year-to-date registrations are down 9.3%, but sales of alternative-fueled vehicles are up 41.0%.

Sales of pure electric cars are a significant factor, with registrations up 37.3% to 11,127 units by the end of September. All of which means electric cars are emerging from the shadows of petrol and diesel cars, switching from niche to mainstream.

The threat of anti-diesel legislation and concerns over public health have led to a backlash against diesel, which is fuelling a rise in the number of people considering an electric car. With this in mind, what do you need to know if you’re considering making the switch?

What is an electric car?

The electric vehicle is nothing new. In fact, electric cars date back to the late 19th and early 20th century, and electricity was once the dominant means of propulsion. For many people, the one and only experience of an electric vehicle is the sound of the milk float delivering fresh pints to our doorsteps.

But today’s electric cars are a far cry from the milkman’s chariot. The technology and infrastructure have moved on to such an extent, an EV makes practical sense for a large number of motorists.

An electric car is just that: a car that runs on electric power. An electric motor sources power from a battery, which can be recharged by plugging the car into a power source.

Is an electric car right for you?

As the technology moves on and the infrastructure continues to grow, there’s no doubt that an electric car is becoming a realistic prospect for a greater number of motorists. But there are some questions to be asked before you take the plunge.

Do you have access to a charging point?

Realistically, you’ll need to install a home charging point if you’re buying an electric car. The good news is that some manufacturers will offer a free charging kit as part of a finance package, while grants are available towards the cost of installing a charge point.

If you haven’t got access to a garage or parking space with access to a plug socket, an electric car will be a non-starter. Trailing a charging cable across a pavement is not a good idea, while carmakers advise against using an extension lead.

Alternatively, you could charge up at work, but if a charging point isn’t available at home or the office, we’d suggest an electric car isn’t for you. Not yet, anyway.

Daily commute

Once upon a time, 100 miles was the maximum range you could expect from an electric car, but cars like the Tesla Model S, and to a lesser extent, new versions of the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf are able to travel much further.

Even so, if your daily commute is further than 100 miles, we’d recommend a plug-in hybrid, rather than a pure electric vehicle. An EV is best suited for shorter commutes, trips to the station and predominantly urban use.


While you can buy a new petrol car for as little as £6,000, you’ll need to fork out at least £15,000 for an electric vehicle, and that’s before factoring in the cost of the battery.

And because EV technology is still relatively new, the used car market isn’t loaded with cheaper alternatives. More on this later.


Purchase price

Generally speaking, electric cars are more expensive to buy than their petrol or diesel counterparts, but the tide is shifting in favour of EVs. Taking the Renault Twizy quadricycle out of the equation, you’ll need to find at least £15,000 for a brand new electric car.

Looks good on paper, but be warned: the purchase price doesn’t necessarily include the battery, which will be leased on a monthly basis. For example, battery rental on the Renault Zoe costs from £49 to £110 per month, depending on spec and mileage. That adds between £588 and £1,320 a year.

You can purchase the battery outright on the Nissan Leaf, but it adds £5,000 to the purchase price, taking the cost of the cheapest Leaf 24kWh to £21,680. There are pros and cons associated with leasing or buying a battery – more on this later.

As a guide, these are the entry-level prices for electric cars on sale in the UK (correct as of October 2017):

Renault Twizy: £6,995
Renault Zoe: £14,245
Peugeot iOn: £15,995
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive: £16,420
Nissan Leaf 24kWh: £16,680
Nissan e-NV200: £19,403
Volkswagen e-Up: £20,780
Hyundai Ioniq: £24,995
Kia Soul: £25,495
Volkswagen e-Golf: £27,690
BMW i3: £29,570
Tesla Model 3: $35,000 (estimated)
Tesla Model S: £60,200
Tesla Model X: £66,000


Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Government Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG)

The prices listed above include the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG), which is currently set at 35% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £4,500. To qualify for the maximum (Category 1) grant, vehicles must emit less than 50g/km CO2 and be able to travel at least 70 miles on electric power.

Scrappage discounts

The threat of anti-diesel legislation has prompted many carmakers into launching so-called scrappage schemes, designed to encourage the purchase of cleaner vehicles. The deals can be more lucrative on electric and hybrid cars.

For example, Volkswagen is offering £5,500 off the price of an e-Golf when you trade in an old diesel vehicle. The saving is £3,300 on the e-Up and is in addition to the government’s plug-in vehicle grant.

Under Nissan’s ‘Switch Scheme’, owners of cars built before 2010 can claim up to £5,000 on top of the car’s trade-in value if they agree for it to be exchanged. It means that the Nissan Leaf is more affordable than ever.

But there’s more because Nissan is also offering a discount on an approved-used Leaf. Buyers will receive up to £2,000 on top of the trade-in value and a special three-year, 3.9% APR PCP scheme to spread the payment. You could pay as little as £87 a month and receive a free home charging kit worth £279.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

The new Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) tax bands, introduced in April 2017, eliminated the zero-rate of tax for all but the cleanest of vehicles. In fact, only zero-emissions vehicles are exempt from paying any tax.

That said, all cars above £40,000 pay a £310 annual surcharge for five years starting in year two, which affects the rate of tax for the Tesla Model S and Model X.

London Congestion Charge/T-charge

The London Congestion Charge is a £11.50 daily charge for driving a vehicle within the charging zone between 7pm and 6pm, Monday to Friday. This fee can be reduced by £1 a day with Auto Pay, which costs £10 to register per vehicle.

But worse is to come for motorists entering London, with a new Toxicity Charge (T-charge) for older, more polluting vehicles. From 23 October 2017, vehicles that don’t comply with the Euro IV exhaust standard as a minimum will be charged £10 for entering central London.

This means that, in effect, all vehicles registered before 2006 will have to pay to enter central London, with the T-charge on top of the Congestion Charge. Electric cars are exempt from both fees: a potential saving of £21.50 a day.

The T-charge will be in force until the Ultra Low Emission Zone is introduced in 2019.

With politicians and local authorities seeking to clean up our urban areas, you can expect other towns and cities to follow the London lead. Soon, zero- or low-emissions cars might be the only vehicles welcome in city centres.

Buying a used electric car

With the electric car in its infancy, you’re not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to buying a used EV. At the time of writing, only 744 of the 450,000 or so cars for sale on Auto Trader were electric, of which 696 were used or nearly new.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of battery leasing, especially if buying a Renault electric vehicle, as 95% of the French firm’s EV product has a leased battery. Conversely, only 5% of Nissan Leaf product featured a battery purchased on a lease.

If the used electric car includes a battery purchased outright, there’s the worry of how well it keeps its charge. If the battery is past its best, the cost of replacement could be enormous, and as the car gets older, more than the vehicle is worth.

Battery: lease or purchase?

For most people, leasing a battery makes more sense, as it removes any concerns about resale value or battery life. The charging infrastructure and limited range mean that many electric cars cover limited miles and the tariffs tend to reflect this.

We’ve provided examples based on two versions of the Renault Zoe.

Renault Zoe 22kWh
Up to 4,500 miles: £49 per month
Up to 6,000 miles: £59 per month
Up to 7,500 miles: £69 per month
Up to 9,000 miles: £79 per month
Up to 10,500 miles: £89 per month

Renault Zoe Z.E 4.0
Up to 4,500 miles: £59 per month
Up to 6,000 miles: £69 per month
Up to 7,500 miles: £79 per month
Up to 9,000 miles: £89 per month
Up to 10,500 miles: £99 per month
Unlimited: £110 per month

Based on a three-year contract at 10,500 miles per annum, a Renault Zoe Expression Nav 22kWh will cost £14,245 to buy and £3,204 in battery hire, providing a total cost of £17,449. Bought outright, the cost would be £19,845.

When leasing, Renault will provide a battery performance guarantee to at least 75% of its original capacity. If it drops below 75%, Renault will repair or replace the battery. When buying outright, Renault will provide a guarantee of eight years or 100,000 miles, as well as guaranteeing the battery to at least 66% of its capacity.


Nissan Leaf charger

Charging an electric car can be done at home, at work or at a public charging point. According to Zap-Map, there are currently charging points at 4,887 different locations in the UK, providing a total of 7,535 devices and 13,971 connectors.

These figures are up from 4,003 devices and 10,839 connectors in November 2016, which proves that the infrastructure is catching up with demand. But the overall figure tells only half the story: what’s just as important is the type of charger available at any given location.

There are three types of charger available in the UK: Slow, Fast and Rapid. These can be summarised as follows:

Slow chargers (3kw)

As recently as five years ago this was the most common type of charging point in the UK, but today, the slow charger is in the minority. The clue is in the name: a full charge could take anything between six and 12 hours. Most electric cars are supplied with a charger allowing you charge using a standard 13-amp three-pin plug.

A slow charger is best reserved for charging overnight when at home or during the day at the office. A home charging point is recommended, with some carmakers incentivising purchases via a free home installation.

Fast chargers (7-22kw)

You’ll find fast chargers in supermarket car parks and shopping centres, or somewhere an electric car can be left for a more extended period of time. A 7kW charger will recharge an EV in 3-5 hours, while a 22kw charger could complete the job in less than a couple of hours.

Today, the fast charger is the most common charging point in the UK, with 7kW home chargers the norm for electric car households, especially those with 80-100A supplies.

Rapid chargers (43, 50 or 120kW)

A rapid charger can provide up to 80% of charge in just 20-40 minutes, making them ideally suited to motorway service stations. 

Chargemaster – the self-proclaimed ‘biggest name in electric vehicle charging’ – could install a charging point at your home within two weeks, with prices starting from £279 for a 3kW charger. Its entry-level Homecharge point is 60% faster than a 13A plug.

A 7kW charger is three times faster than a 13A plug and costs £354, while a 22kW charger – 10 times more rapid than a 13A plug – costs £1,200. The Homecharge points are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and covered by a three-year warranty.

Cost of charging

According to Pod Point, it’ll cost around £3.64 for a full charge when charging an electric car overnight at home. Assuming a typical range of 100 miles, that equates to less than 4p per mile.

Many public charging points remain free, although you’ll have to pay for rapid chargers, such as those found at motorway service stations. Similarly, while Tesla offers free access to its Supercharger network for Model S owners, it will introduce ‘pay per use’ charging on the Model 3.

Ecotricity claims that its electric vehicle charging network is the ‘most comprehensive in Europe’, featuring around 300 electric charging points. Each charging session costs 17p per kWh of electricity used, plus a £3 connection fee.

Polar – the UK’s largest EV charging network – provides access to 5,000 public charging points via a subscription service. The first three months’ membership is free, after which you pay £7.85 per month, which provides access to all charging points, 80% of which are free to use.

Pod Point suggests budgeting £6.50 for a 30-minute rapid charge at a motorway service station.


The range you can expect from an electric car is dependent on the battery, the time of year and the style of driving. For example, the driving range will drop considerably in colder weather. Renault estimates up 186 miles in the summer and 124 miles in the winter for the Zoe Z.E. 40.

As an overview, here are the official New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) figures, as provided by the manufacturers. In all cases, you’re unlikely to achieve the claimed figures.

Peugeot iOn/Citroen C-Zero: 93 miles
Volkswagen e-Up: 93 miles
Smart Fortwo Electric: 96 miles
Nissan e-NV200: 106 miles
Nissan Leaf 24kWh: 124 miles
BMW i3: 124 miles
Kia Soul EV: 132 miles
Renault Zoe 22kWh: 149 miles
Nissan Leaf 30kWh: 155 miles
Hyundai Ioniq: 174 miles
Volkswagen e-Golf: 186 miles
BMW i3 33kWh: 195 miles
Tesla Model 3: 220-310 miles
Renault Zoe Z.E. 40: 250 miles
Tesla Model X 75D: 259 miles
Tesla Model S 75D: 304 miles
Tesla Model X P100D: 336 miles
Tesla Model X 100D: 351 miles
Tesla Model S P100D: 381 miles
Tesla Model S 100D: 393 miles

Servicing and maintenance

Electric car servicing

A pure electric car has three main components – the motor, the charger and the inverter – which meaning servicing and maintenance is much more straightforward and cheaper than on a petrol or diesel car.

Using data from KeeResources, Go Ultra Low published cost comparison information for electric cars versus their petrol and diesel equivalents. The data – based on four years and 60,000 miles – is quite telling:

BMW i3: £2,264.05 (total maintenance)
BMW 118d: £2,929.94
Cost saving for EV: £665.89

Hyundai Ioniq: £1,543.20
Hyundai Ioniq h-GDi: £2,120.88
Cost saving for EV: £577.68

Kia Soul EV: £1,203.57
Kia Soul GDI: £1,570.86
Cost saving for EV: £367.29

Volkswagen e-Golf: £1,730.69
Volkswagen Golf GTD: £2,965.29
Cost saving for EV: £1,234.60

In all cases, the cost-saving needs to be balanced with the initial outlay, which tends to be higher for an electric vehicle, but it proves that maintenance and servicing should be easier to manage.


Electric vehicles typically have between five and eight years’ warranty on the electric motor and battery components. For the rest of the car, the length of warranty depends on the manufacturer – ranging from three years and 60,000 miles to seven years and 100,000 miles.

The battery guarantee will also depend on the manufacturer. For example, Renault will guarantee performance to at least 85% of its original capacity, or pay for repair or replacement, when you lease the battery. If you’re buying outright, the battery is covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, along with a performance guarantee to at least 66% of its original charge capacity.

As the technology improves, batteries are becoming more robust. Owners forums are a good place to discover real-world experiences of EV owners. For example, we discovered that a Tesla Model S will retain between 90 and 95% capacity, even after 93 miles. After 150,000 miles, only 15% capacity will have been lost.


Euro NCAP conducted the first crash test of an EV in 2011 when the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was awarded a four-star rating. Other EVs have since been tested, but it’s worth noting that a Euro NCAP test in 2017 is more rigorous than the equivalent test in 2011.

Here’s a list of pure electric vehicles tested by Euro NCAP, together with the date tested and star rating:

Five stars

Hyundai Ioniq (2016)
Tesla Model S (2014)
Renault Zoe (2013)
Nissan Leaf (2012)

Four stars

BMW i3 (2013)
Kia Soul EV (2014)
Citroen C-Zero (2011)
Peugeot iOn (2011)
Mitsubishi i-MiEV (2011)
Renault Fluence: 4 stars (2011)

Three stars

Nissan e-NV200: 3 stars (2014)

Latest electric car news

In what is seen as a significant step forward for electric cars in the UK, Shell is to install vehicle charging points at its petrol filling stations.

Drivers will be able to recharge 80% of their battery in 30 minutes at forecourts in London, Surrey and Derby, with a further 10 service stations to feature rapid chargers by the end of the year.

“There’s no doubt the electric vehicle market is developing fast. And we want to offer customers choice: it doesn’t really matter what kind of vehicle they’re driving, we want them to drive into a Shell station, refuel in whatever capacity the fuel is,” said Jane Lindsay-Green, future fuels manager at Shell UK.

Meanwhile, the government has introduced a bill to make electric charging points mandatory at large petrol stations and motorway service areas.

The Automated and Electric Vehicles bills will double the number of charging locations in the UK, leading to multiple points at some of the busiest areas.

Transport minister, John Hayes, said: “We want the UK to be the best place in the world to do business and a leading hub for modern transport technology, which is why we are introducing the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill in Parliament and investing more than £1.2 billion in the industry.

“This bill will aid the construction of greater infrastructure to support the growing demand for automated and electric vehicles as we embrace this technology and move into the future.”

NEXT> The best value new electric cars for 2017

Month five: is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good family car?

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2016): long-term review

Mitsubishi Outlander (2016) long-term review

This could be one of the most controversial vehicles amongst eco-car enthusiasts since a Bluemotion-badged diesel Volkswagen. It’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: a 2.0-litre petrol SUV with an electric motor and an official MPG of 156.9. Yes, that’s 156.9mpg.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review: UK first drive

It works by running on electric (for an official range of 32 miles) after a full charge, with the petrol engine kicking in when the battery’s flat or you’re asking more from it than the electric motor can provide.

So why’s it controversial? For a start, many owners are saying that fuel economy figure is little more than fantasy. Mitsubishi has retaliated, by saying the figure comes from the official NEDC tests – not the manufacturer. Essentially, as most of the tests are done while the Outlander’s battery is charged, it uses very little fuel.

For the same reasons, it’s classed as having extremely low emissions (42g/km). That means it works as a bit of a tax dodge for company car drivers, who pay very low (7%) BIK tax, but will spend most of their time running it as a thirsty petrol SUV without ever charging it.

If you’re reading this thinking our introduction is throwing up more questions than it’s answering – that’s exactly why we’ve added one to our long-term test fleet. Just how good is it on fuel consumption in real life? How easy it to charge? Is it better than a diesel? Read on to find out…

Month six: it’s a cracking goodbye to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Month six: it’s a cracking goodbye to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

My final weekend with the Outlander. The last couple of days with a car that, even after six months, I still hadn’t really bonded with.

A road trip was in order – so a Friday afternoon dart up the M1, onto the M6 and across the M54 to visit my folks in Shropshire. A stop off at Corley Services saw me parking alongside rows of dirty diesels – stumping up £6 to charge at Ecotricity’s charge points makes no financial sense in the Outlander. Clearly I’m not alone in my thinking – a Nissan Leaf was parked nearby, away from the chargers, which remained unused during the couple of hours I spent trying out Starbucks’ delicacies.

Despite not being able to charge at Corley, a 40.0mpg average during the gentle motorway run was adequate, and I do appreciate the comfortable, leather seats and high-up driving position the Outlander offers.

A weekend ferrying my parents around and they had nothing but good things to say about the Outlander – not only was it comfortable, it also looks good on their driveway (an important consideration, apparently) and moves away in silence. How modern.

Unfortunately, the end of the weekend – and the end of my tenure of the Outlander – didn’t go to plan. A passing Audi on a rural road flicked up a stone, causing a chip in the windscreen. Within moments this had turned into a large crack. Great.

This cracking goodbye aside, what are my final thoughts on life with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV after six months? Well, it has sort of convinced me of the merits of plug-in hybrids. I like the fact that my 20-mile commute could, in theory, be completed under electric power alone. And I enjoy the feeling of driving the Mitsubishi Outlander when it’s fully-charged – running a diesel feels like a backward step once you’re used to creeping around town in silence.

Anyone who does regular longer journeys will be better off with a diesel, however – but then, we already knew that. Plug-in hybrids make little sense if you don’t charge them regularly – and now Ecotricity has introduced its £6 charge, you’re even less likely to do that if you’re a business user.

The plug-in element aside, the Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t a bad car. The interior isn’t anything special – but it’s better than it used to be – and the infotainment system is pretty woeful to use.

There is no enjoyment to be had in driving the Outlander, either (perhaps Mitsubishi could learn from cars such as the Passat GTE – hybrids can be fun), but it does the job of being a practical mode of transport with a minimum of fuss.

Would I recommend one? Maybe. If practicality is high on your agenda, perhaps for whatever reason owning a four-wheel-drive would be handy, and you can charge it regularly, the Outlander PHEV will be worth a visit to your nearest Mitsubishi dealer.

If, however, you’re a business user wanting to cash in on the Outlander’s green credentials (and the benefits they bring), you might want to take a look at the changes about to be brought in by Phillip Hammond. You’d probably be better off with a diesel – especially if you’re paying for your own fuel.

Month five: is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good family car?

Month five: is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good family car?

I’m rather conscious so far that my updates so far have concentrated largely on the EV side of the PHEV – and most buyers will treat it simply as an alternative to a diesel SUV, and actually charging the thing will be a tiny part of ownership.

So how does it stack up as a family car? For a start, you can’t get an Outlander PHEV with seven seats. You can get a diesel version with an extra two seats squeezed into the back – but the battery on the hybrid version eats into the space where these seats would be. So if you’ve got a big family, it probably isn’t going to work for you.

If you’ve only got a couple of kids, don’t dismiss the PHEV just yet. Although the battery does hamper boot space to a certain extent, it doesn’t eat into it massively. With the rear seats up, you get 463-litres of luggage room – 128 less than a five-seat diesel version.

That’s still a sensible amount of luggage capacity, however. The Mazda CX-5, as a comparison, has a 503 litre boot, while the Hyundai Santa Fe has 585 litres. More, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

The rear seats split 60:40 and fold down flat, while the Outlander’s huge boot opening allows easy access.

Head and legroom in the rear is good, while the leather seats (standard on our GX5h long-termer) not only look good, but are easy to clean – an important considerations for families with young children. Isofix mounts on the front and outer-rear seats means it’s easy enough to fit child seats, and children will probably enjoy the high-up seating position compared to an estate car.

Combine this practicality with a five-star NCAP safety rating and a four-wheel-drive system for when the weather gets bad, and the Outlander PHEV makes a lot of sense as a family car.

Month four: how does the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV compare to the Volkswagen Passat GTE?

Month Four: how does the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV compare to the Volkswagen Passat GTE?

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been a mightily-popular plug-in hybrid, with 11,786 sold in the UK last year. Before it came along in 2013, plug-in cars were traditionally a bit weird, and only bought by early-adopters. The Outlander offers a degree of normality – along with a high level of practicality – that means conventional diesel drivers can be tempted by the Outlander’s supposedly low running costs.

But now other manufacturers are starting to cotton-on. Mitsubishi UK’s sales – a huge proportion of which are the Outlander – are down to 12,097 so far this year, compared to 15,414 at the same time last year. Along with drivers realising that plug-in hybrids aren’t always that economical (unless you regularly charge at home and only occasionally travel further than 20 miles), some of this could be down to the increase in rivals being launched by mainstream manufacturers.

Volkswagen Passat GTE (2016) review: Two-Minute Road Test

I’ve just spent a week with a Volkswagen Passat GTE. Not an obvious rival per se, especially in saloon form, but starting at £38,075 for the estate, you’d be wise to consider one alongside our high-spec £43,339 Outlander PHEV GX5h.

The crucial stats for company car drivers are very close: 42g/km CO2 for the Outlander, compared to 39g/km for the Passat. That results in 7% BIK tax for business users, and free road tax for both of them.

First impressions of the Passat, from someone who’s spent months driving an Outlander? The interior is wonderful – truly upmarket, boasting almost Audi levels of build quality. Despite being tweaked by Mitsubishi over the years, the Outlander’s interior leaves you feeling a little short-changed. It’s certainly not premium, but it does feel like it will stand up to day-to-day abuse from families fairly well.

The infotainment system is one area in which the Passat has clearly benefited from the VW Group’s expertise. It’s lovely to use, really quick to respond and even the standard 6.5-inch display is easy to read.

Like the rest of its interior, the Mitsubishi’s infotainment system is still behind the times, despite being improved when the car was facelifted last year. It takes an age to start up, is laggy to use and features are hard to find. Connecting your phone can be a challenge, too.

This should get easier when the 2017 model arrives with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The Passat GTE is already available with this as a £125 option. A smidgen tight when you can get it as standard on a new Vauxhall Corsa.

And then there’s the common denominator: the plug-in hybrid system that explains why we’re pitching these two unlikely competitors against each other in the first place. Both offer fairly short electric-only ranges (the Passat 31 miles, the Outlander 32), and neither should take the place of a diesel if you do a lot of long journeys.

The Passat uses its system to offer that additional element, the fun GTE mode, and when the battery does run out of juice the petrol engine kicks in almost seamlessly. The Outlander makes a bit more of a fuss, grumbling into life and making its presence heard. And then there’s that CVT gearbox.

The Outlander’s CVT ’box sounds strained if you’re trying to accelerate with the slightest degree of urgency (compared to the Passat’s lovely six-speed DSG), while the light steering isn’t confidence-inspiring. No, it’s not meant to be a sports car, but the Passat GTE proves parents can have fun, too. Hitting 62mph in 7.4 seconds, it’s the fastest Passat currently offered by VW.

On the plus side, the Outlander’s high-up driving position offers an excellent view of the road that you don’t get in the Passat. It makes the Outlander feel like an airy, safe car for long trips – important for families, and great for quelling child sickness. And, of course, its four-wheel-drive system will help over the winter months or when tackling a particularly challenging campsite.

The verdict? After a week with the Passat, I was reluctant to hand it back and take back the keys to the Outlander. Not only is the Passat more enjoyable to drive, the interior is leagues ahead and the technology behind the hybrid system seems more advanced.

That’s my personal conclusion. Of course, the Outlander offers more space, and families will appreciate the high-up driving position it offers as an SUV. They’re not direct competitors and they will appeal to different buyers – but I know where my money would go.

Read our Two-Minute Road Test of the Volkswagen Passat GTE

Month three: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV meets the Airlander ‘flying bum’

Month three: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV meets the Airlander 'flying bum'

You may have seen the Airlander ‘flying bum’ in the news this week. It’s the largest aircraft in the world – a hybrid airship that’s more than 90m long and cost £25 million to make.

Designed to be used in long-endurance surveillance for the US government before the project was axed and it was sold to the UK, the Airlander uses helium to get airborne and sounds much quieter than a conventional helicopter or plane.

It’s stored at Cardington Airfield, around 15 miles from home for me. That’s within the electric-only range of a fully-charged Outlander PHEV – so it’d have been rude not to take our long-term Outlander to meet its bigger, flying cousin.

A tenuous link, perhaps. But, just like the near-silent Airlander can sneak up on enemies in silence (while also being good for the planet), I’m really starting to appreciate the quietness of the Outlander PHEV when it’s freshly charged.

My neighbours like the fact I can get away early, and arrive home at night, without the clatteryness of a diesel engine waking them up. The one evening I swapped the Outlander for a Porsche Cayman GT4, they picked up on how noisy it was in comparison.

Month three: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV meets the Airlander 'flying bum'

The Outlander’s quietness isn’t always a good thing. One day, I was taking the country road route home, driving the PHEV gently and trying to maximise its electric range. There was a pigeon in the road – I didn’t want to brake (that’d have a knock-on effect on my hypermiling), and presumed it’d fly away last minute.

It didn’t. It was the slowest road kill ever. At around 30mph, I felt the poor pigeon get squished by the Outlander’s 18-inch wheel. It just didn’t hear me coming.

Fortunately for wildlife, the Outlander soon runs out of charge. Yes, I’ve already gone over the benefits of the Outlander’s hybrid system, and I get that it’ll work for those of us who regularly do short journeys. But I still find myself wishing I could travel before before the petrol engine noisily kicks in.

Month two: what’s the etiquette around charging?

Month two: what’s the etiquette around charging?

I wasn’t planning on writing my second update about the same subject as the first one. But charging is such a new thing for someone who’s so used to just filling a car with fossil fuels, there’s a lot to learn.

And I don’t mean the intricacies of what cards I need to charge where. I’ve got all that sussed now, and I’m really getting into the hang of plugging it in regularly. No, I mean the etiquette.

I use a charge point near our office regularly and, since MR’s Peter Burgess complained to the council that it was being blocked by non-electric cars, it’s now clearly signposted as a three-hour maximum parking space for charging only. That’s fine for me, I can charge almost entirely in three hours.

But, as I mentioned in my last update, one e-NV200 van driver seems to park there regularly and leave it charging for an entire day while he no doubt catches a train into London from the nearby station. I’ve even seen the van blocking the space without charging – what’s the point? To save having to pay for parking, perhaps, but then I noticed he had a ticket on the windscreen.

Conscious of people who unnecessarily block charging bays for those who need them, I’ve returned to the Outlander a few times to find a fully electric car parked next to it, clearly wanting to use my socket. Most charge points have two – a fast charge and a slow charge. Naturally, if it’s free, most prefer to use the fast charge.

But if someone in a Nissan LEAF, for example, needs a charge, their need is a little more important than mine. While I’ve got a (thirsty) petrol engine as backup, they need that charge to get home. I tweeted my dilemma, and the internet didn’t hold back…

A smidgen harsh, perhaps – what’s the point of driving a plug-in hybrid if it’s never plugged in?

Other people came up with suggestions…

And many said I shouldn’t feel guilty.

But I do. So I’ve come up with a solution.

Will it work? Find out in our next long-term update.

Month one: how easy is it to charge the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

Month one: how easy is it to charge the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

As an introduction to plug-in cars, the Outlander PHEV is proving to be a real eye-opener.

For a start, the UK’s public charging network is a bit of a shambles. Rather than being operated by one company, a number of different firms provide chargers in different places. So, the majority of chargers in the area where I do most of my driving are operated by Source East. To access those, I need a Source East card at a cost of £10 a year. For the use I’d get, that’s a bargain – so I was keen to sign up.

Only Source East’s website is useless. It’s several weeks since I tried to join without any luck, and it still doesn’t appear to be working. Their customer service department isn’t responding to pleas for help, either.

Chargemaster came forward with a solution. For £7.85 a month (after a six month free-of-charge trial period), you can use their Polar Plus network, which gets you access to 4,000 charge points across the UK (including those operated by Source East). More expensive, but it takes some of the hassle away of trying to find appropriate cards if I decide to travel further afield.

So, with my Polar Plus card in hand, I headed to the one-and-only charge point located near our office. Chargemaster’s useful Polar Plus map not only helps you locate charging points, it also tells you what kind of charger they have, as well as whether they’re in use at that moment in time.

According to the map, our nearest charger wasn’t occupied. But, despite signs saying the spaces are reserved for electric vehicles only, it was blocked by non-plug-in cars. How annoying.

With an early start, I’ve found it is possible to park at the charging point near our office and give the Outlander a full charge (which takes roughly three hours… conveniently the maximum time you’re allowed to park in this space).

But it’s not always possible. There’s one regular Nissan e-NV200 who often parks in the space and blocks it all day, ignoring the three-hour limit.

When it is possible, it works out well. With a real-life range of around 25 miles, I can commute almost entirely on electric power and rely on the combustion engine on those occasions I need to travel further.

Month one: how easy is it to charge the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

One such occasion was a recent round-trip to Heathrow. The only public charge points at Heathrow are located at short-term parking, limited to three hours. If you leave your car there for more than three hours, you get hit with a ticket. And what use is that, unless you’re only visiting Heathrow to collect someone?

I instead used a valet parking company, but they don’t have any provisions for electric car charging either. How difficult would it be to incorporate it into their service? It could be a huge hit for anyone with an electric car within commuting distance from Heathrow.

On the way home I could have stopped at the services, grabbed a coffee and given the Outlander a quick charge using Ecotricity’s fast charge point (using another card I’d handily registered for). But that can only charge to 80% giving me something like 20 miles electric range (probably far less at motorway speeds). That would have saved me around £3 in petrol – or, roughly the cost of a coffee I would have bought to pass time waiting for it to charge.

I couldn’t see the point, so I drove the Outlander PHEV like a big, petrol SUV carrying an empty battery in a manner of someone who wanted to get home from the airport. The result? 24mpg. Ouch.

Fortunately, we’re spending six months with the Outlander, but we’ll see if it starts to get more convincing over time. So far it’s proving to be slightly irritating to run – but that’s more down to the infrastructure rather than the car itself.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan sells 15,000th Leaf EV in UK, gives £500 off

Nissan LeafNissan is marking the sale of 15,000 Leaf electric cars in the UK with a £500 bonus saving for customers in September.

The deal is on top of Nissan’s finance deal, which offers a 24kWh Leaf Acenta for £249 a month on a three-year PCP. Nissan contributes a hefty £5,000 towards the deposit and the APR is a reasonable 5.9%.

If that’s not enough, Nissan includes a free home charging kit as well, worth another £390. No wonder it’s clocked up 15,000 sales…

The buyer of the 15,000th Leaf was Jenny Craik, who swapped her regular-fuel 14-plate Ford Fiesta for a Leaf EV. Her husband already drives a plug-in hybrid and she says his positive words, combined with the environmental and running-cost savings, encouraged her to switch.

Nissan hit 15,000 UK Leaf sales just 12 months after reaching the 10,000 mark. The firm says demand for the Leaf in the UK is higher now than at any point in the three years since its launch.

The news of the 15,000th UK Leaf comes as Renault reveals it has now sold 100,000 electric cars, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance announces its 350,000th sale.

However, the Leaf now won’t now be getting an impressive-sounding new rival from Vauxhall here in the UK. Vauxhall’s parent firm, General Motors, has regrettably decided not to engineer the new Ampera-e – which boasts an official NEDC electric driving range of more than 250 miles – for right-hand drive.