There are more than 60 EV models on sale in the UK. That means you have many choices if you want to embrace zero-emissions driving and vehicle ownership. But with the diversity of choice comes the burden of decision.
Paralysis by analysis can complicate the choice of which EV to buy. But EV buyers have a much better selection of body styles, vehicle sizes, features, and battery options than a few years ago. As more legacy car companies shift their product development R&D into EVs, customers benefit from a better selection of available cars.
For some, buying an EV is merely to replace the size of the vehicle they currently own with something that doesn’t run on petrol or diesel. For others, it’s about using the transition to EV ownership to buy into a new vehicle configuration, which they might not have considered before. And for the most analytical buyers, or those who commute daily and drive significant distances, buying an EV, can be all about the range and recharging calculations.
So, which EV is right for you? We’ll help segment the available EV technology and choices to help you make the best possible decision for your next, or first, battery-powered car.
Rethinking vehicle size
One of the most apparent constraints for any car purchase is its dimensions. Whether you have inner London parking or live in a village, vehicle size matters. Buying something too long and wide can become a chore to park, creating anxiety and frustration on each journey.
Size and parking constraints with EVs can be different to those of conventionally powered cars. Because most EVs are RWD, they don’t feature CV joints or half shafts to the front wheels, engineers can design suspension components and wheel clearances that allow for sharper steering angles. The benefit? An EV of similar length and wheelbase is often more agile at very low speeds than a comparable petrol or diesel car. And that makes it easier to park.
There is a correlation between perceived size and space, too, EVs. Few potential car buyers try to understand the relationship between vehicles, their internal architecture and available load space. All those measurements in cubic feet, and their intricacies, aren’t relatable to most buyers until it’s too late, and you are about to embark on a school run, a Saturday sports event, or vacation – only to discover that your vehicle is a much smaller inside, than you had assumed.
More space than you think
EVs have a fundamental advantage in space utilisation, compared to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. Without an engine up front, or a gearbox, designers can optimise EV cabin space without increasing vehicle size.
Most EVs feature a skateboard architecture, where the battery packs are mounted below the vehicle’s floor section to create its core structure. This enables much better space utilisation.
An EV will always have superior cabin space for a given vehicle length because it doesn’t have to accommodate an engine, gearbox or fuel tank. Those components are mounted above, or intrude into, the floor section of a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle, reducing interior space.
An EV, which might look smaller or be a bit shorter than your current vehicle, probably has much better cabin space. And that’s something to consider when browsing for potential EVs. Don’t ignore vehicles merely on their perceived size.
Performance is a given
When shopping for an EV, range is the metric by which all comparisons are made instead of power and performance. By virtue of their efficiency and immediate torque delivery, all EVs have potent acceleration, making them very responsive to driving around town – and confidence-inspiring when overtaking slower highway traffic.
Whichever EV you buy, from a feature-laden Tesla to something more affordable, like an Ora Cat, you don’t have to think about its performance. It will be rapid, from 0 to 60mph. But range is what most EV owners ponder, and rightfully so.
Battery technology and range continuously improve, as more advanced chemistries are developed for EV applications. But is there a formula, or a baseline range number, that you can apply, ensuring that you don’t suffer range anxiety or recharging frustration? That depends on where you live, the distance of your average commute and the recharging infrastructure at your disposal.
How much range do you need?
Everyone has become increasingly data literate in a world where we have more data streaming than ever before. You no longer need a notebook and meticulously odometer discipline to calculate your driving needs.
Various apps and in-car telemetry systems will tabulate your driving behaviour, and the truth is that most people drive a lot less than they think. And that means you don’t need that much range.
The average UK driver travels 20 miles a day. The most affordable EVs have a range beyond 200 miles, with most engineered and configured to go for 300 miles. Because these compact EVs with a 200- to 300-mile range feature reasonably small battery packs, they also recharge rapidly, making them excellent candidates for overnight trickle recharging at home. Or plugging into a charging option at work, if that is available.
If you are going to use battery range ratings for comparison, the general rule is that an ultra-compact EV, with 200-mile range, is more than adequate for anyone who lives in a large city like London or Manchester. If you do extra-urban driving or like journeying for a long Sunday leisure drive, a 300-mile battery range rating should be adequate for your needs.
A last thought about range concerns and traffic. In a petrol or diesel car, stop-start driving in traffic is very wasteful, causing very high fuel consumption. EVs, by contrast, are excellently efficient in stop-start traffic because they don’t use energy when standing still.
Need help finding the right electric car? Have a look at our comprehensive EV reviews section which will answer all your questions about range, price and performance.