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EV’s – An Honest Assessment

EV’s – An Honest Assessment

Two years since my first experience of an electric car, what do I really think about it?  Is it the right choice for all society?

I bought a second-hand Nissan Leaf in July 2022 to replace an older petrol car.  The 2020 Nissan model has a 40kWh battery, which claims to have a range of 145 miles (more on this later).  We retained our efficient diesel Skoda (98gCO2/km) for longer journeys.  There are three drivers in our family, and we juggle cars depending on commuting, work and social commitments.

[with special thanks to Mark W Tebbutt, IT professional and EV driver who checked over this blog and made suggestions.  I met Mark on X.  He tweets about all things electrical].

Which car do I prefer to drive?

Initially I found the electric car a bit tricky as I was used to gears and the EV had lots of new controls.  Now, I have no doubt.  The electric Nissan is my preferred car.  You quickly get used to driving without changing gear and I like the ‘e-pedal’ which automatically slows the car down when you take your foot off the accelerator, and this helps to regenerate the battery.  You rarely need to use the brake.

The Nissan is now our ‘first car’ that we use for short and medium journeys, with the Skoda only used for longer journeys.

The EV is quiet to run, and there are no diesel fumes when you deice the windscreen in the winter.  You also know that you are not contributing to local air pollution or emitting carbon dioxide directly to the atmosphere.


The screen on the dashboard shows you the miles per kWh you are achieving. The Nissan averages around 4 miles per kWh which means that each unit (kWh) of electricity can drive 4 miles.  In theory the 40kWh battery would therefore take you 160 miles but I have never achieved this.  The working capacity of the battery is a bit less than the claimed 40kWh.  On a positive note, I have not noticed any change or deterioration in the battery (the car is now 4 years old).

The maximum I have driven in one charge is 124 miles.  At that point there were flashing lights warning me of very low battery, although there may well have been a few miles left ‘in the tank’.  I have never run out of charge.

The range is highly dependent on your driving style and the weather.

It is very noticeable that the range drops dramatically on the motorway.  When I assessed this, slowing down from 70 to 60mph increased the range by 30%.  Saying that, this is similar to the effect of driving slower in a petrol or diesel car.

In cold temperatures the range drops substantially.  The average of 4kWh varies between 3.4 in January and 4.4 in the summer.  So, a 124-mile maximum range in the summer would drop by around 25% to 95 miles, and less if it is also windy, raining, dark or if you are going uphill.  In the worst conditions you could lose one-third of the ‘normal’ range.


We are lucky enough to own our own driveway and we installed a Podpoint home charger.  At 7kw it can fully recharge the battery in around 5 hours.  It is also possible, but not recommended, to charge slowly from a standard 3-pin socket with the cable provided.

We can also charge at public charge points.  The standard ‘type 2’ cable is 7kw which is a bit slow for longer day trips but is suitable for overnight charging at an hotel. The Nissan also comes with a CHAdeMO rapid charging socket which at 46kw can fully charge the battery in under an hour.  Unfortunately for us, the CHAdeMO charging network is gradually being phased out across the UK and Europe in favour of the CCS rapid charger system.  This means that it is more difficult for us (in Scotland) to plan a long journey in the electric car as there is a nagging doubt about finding a working and available fast charger.  Please note that this difficulty is only due to our model of car [the new 2025 Nissan Leaf model will not use CHAdeMO].

Across the UK the number of public charging stations continues to steadily increase.  There are now 61,000 public chargers at 32,000 stations.  The growth in fast chargers has been even more rapid, for example 12,000 ‘ultra rapid’ 150kw chargers are now deployed.

Running Costs

Unlike petrol and diesel there is no standard cost per mile for EVs. Our running cost varies from 70p per kWh to almost free.  Our standard cost is 12p per kWh.  70p per kWh equates to 18p per mile; 12p equates to a remarkably low 3p per mile.  A petrol or diesel car costs around 15p per mile in fuel.

Rapid chargers tend to be more expensive, as do chargers on motorways.  To use a CHAdeMO at a motorway service station could be 70p per kWh, whilst a type 2 charger at our local Tesco’s is 40p per kWh.  We mainly charge at home. Our standard tariff is 25p per kWh, but we charge using off-peak rates (Octopus Cosy tariff) at 12p per kWh. There are other even cheaper tariffs available.  Octopus Intelligent is 7.5p per kWh overnight; EDF have an economy 7 tariff at 6p per kWh off-peak.

In good sunny weather we can charge almost for free by using a combination of our solar pv and battery.

A final thought on costs is that there is a conversion loss of energy of around 15% when you use any EV charger.  If you put ten units in, the battery only charges 8.5 units.  This applies to home chargers and public chargers.  This is already built into the unit price of public chargers, but charging at home may be 15% more than you would expect.

Maintenance and Repairs

EV’s have fewer moving parts.  There is no engine, fuel tank, fuel pump, oil, alternator, valvetrain, hydraulics, clutch, gears, exhaust or catalytic converter.  Due to regenerative braking the brakes should last longer too.

So, EV’s should break down less often and be cheaper to service and maintain, with the caveat that if something does go wrong with the electronics then they can be expensive to repair.  In two years, we have broken down once, and had one major fault, which cost £500 to repair.


Batteries are expensive.  Sourcing and processing the raw materials is environmentally damaging and, in some cases, can involve exploitive labour practices.  There is currently an insufficient supply of lithium and China controls much of the world’s supply.  But I remember when the experts said there was not enough platinum to manufacture all the new catalytic converters required to clean-up car exhausts.  Magically, new sources were ‘discovered’.  The same is likely to happen with lithium.  New deposits are being found, lithium can be sourced from seawater, and, unlike the wastage from burning petrol or diesel, the batteries are recyclable.

Is there enough electricity?  Is it green?

The UK’s electricity grid is rapidly becoming cleaner.  The last coal fired power station closes this year.  Wind power, especially offshore wind, is booming and gas power is now declining. The target is to fully decarbonise the UK grid by 2035.

The National Grid estimate that a fully electrified car fleet will only increase the total amount of electricity required in the UK.  And with smart charging tariffs an electric fleet will assist with grid balancing.  Owners will be incentivised to charge overnight when there is often a surplus of electricity, and there will be a move to using the storage capacity of EV batteries to help balance hourly demand on the grid – car owners will be paid to provide this service to the electricity grid.

Roll out

The right-wing press are happy to publish critical articles and claim that the roll-out of EVs is slowing down.  Their argument is that EVs are too expensive, they are not convenient and that once the early adopters have bought one the rate of deployment will slow down.  This campaign has ‘worked’ as the UK Government has delayed the deadline for all new cars to be electric from 2030 to 2035.

The statistics show that there are now over 1 million EV’s in the UK, with sales up 17% in 2023.  Sales dipped slightly in March 2024, but in April, 17% of car sales were electric, up from 10% the year before.  And all of this is happening when the Government has taken away any grant support for the purchase of new EVs.  A new Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate is now in place, requiring 22% of new car sales in the UK to be EV in 2024, rising to 80% by 2030.

I think EVs are inherently better so the public will generally be happy to buy them.  The purchase cost is falling, and the running costs are so low that anyone doing a medium to high mileage will already be better off.  New models have a longer battery range. Second hand EVs are now coming onto the market.

A Problem to Solve

It’s all very well to promote EVs when you are lucky enough to live in a suburb with space for a home EV charger and access to cheaper tariffs.  VAT is charged on electricity from public chargers at 20%, but only at 5% for home chargers. This seems unfair. 

If you live in a densely populated terraced street, tenement or in a block of flats then your EV experience might be very different from mine.  However, if your urban driving is short distance, and you have a large battery, then you may not need to charge often.  Chargers can be installed in pavements, with pop-up chargers to avoid trip hazards. But something more radical will still be required to make an EV convenient to charge in dense urban areas.  This is something for the Government to think about now and encourage innovation.

I guess that cities will end up with a mix of charging at home, on the street, in public and private car parks, at work, at the supermarket and at dedicated fast charging hubs.

The Future

Electric cars are clearly the future. They are quieter and inherently more efficient (less waste heat). I do like our Nissan Leaf EV.  It has a ‘feel good’ factor, although of course walking, cycling and public transport are much better when convenient.  I have now reached the confident stage where I would buy an EV to replace our diesel Skoda once the current car reaches its end of life.  All I need is a car with a range further than our current, old model, of Nissan Leaf.

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