The beginner's guide to electric cars

What is an EV?

As the name suggests, an electric vehicle or EV runs completely on electricity. There’s no petrol or diesel powering the engine – in fact, there’s no engine at all. That’s because EVs run on an electric motor that you can charge at home, or at an electric car charging point.

EVs have far lower carbon emissions than traditional petrol and diesel engines, which means they’re better for the environment. And they can even be zero emission if they’re powered by 100% green electricity.

What is a plug-in hybrid vehicle?

A plug-in hybrid vehicle, or PHEV, works by combining a traditional petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. This means that PHEVs can be plugged in and charged from mains power, just like EVs – but they’ll need petrol or diesel to run for long distances.

PHEVs have lower carbon emissions than traditional combustion engines, but they’re not as green as EVs.

Can you save money?

Yes, while electric cars are more expensive to buy than traditional cars, they can help you save money long term because you don’t have to pay:

  • Petrol costs. With an electric car, you don’t have to worry about the cost of petrol or diesel. The average cost of charging an electric car at home is just £4 for 100 miles of charge – and you can use the Electric Highway charging points for 30p per kWh.
  • Road tax. You still need to register your EV for road tax, but you won’t have to pay anything because EVs don’t give off any exhaust emissions.
  • Congestion charges. If you drive an electric car in London, you don’t have to worry about paying congestion charges because electric vehicles are exempt.

You can save money on electric vehicle charging with our Fully Charged bundle, which offers discounted electricity rates, a home charge point from Rolec, and half price EV charging on the Electric Highway. 

How to charge an EV

You can charge your EV easily at home, or at one of our public electric charging points.

Charging your EV at home is convenient and cost effective – you can just plug it in and leave it to charge overnight. You’ll need to install a wall unit charge point, but you can get a government grant to help with the installation cost.

You can find out more about how to charge your EV using the Electric Highway here.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

It depends on the type of EV charger you use – slow, fast, or rapid – and the size of your battery:

  • Slow chargers (up to 3kW): These typically take between six and 12 hours to charge, so they’re best for overnight charging.
  • Fast chargers (7kW to 22kW): These usually take between three and four hours to charge.
  • Rapid chargers (43kW to 50kW): These can charge an EV to 80% in around 30 minutes.

What’s the range of an EV?

Most new electric cars have a range of around 130 miles, although some can go up to 300 miles on one charge, and this will only improve as EV technology advances.

We’re using the money from our customers’ energy bills to expand our electric vehicle charging network. We’ve banished range anxiety for good, so you can drive anywhere in the UK without the fear of your car running out of power.

What’s the battery life of an EV?

Again, the battery life of an EV will vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Most manufacturers offer an eight year or 100,000 mile warranty for their EV batteries.

All EV battery lives get shorter over time, but there’s much less wear and tear than with traditional engines because there are less moving parts.

Where can you charge your EV?

The Electric Highway is our network of electric vehicle charging points, available at motorway service stations up and down the UK.

We’ve got around 300 electricity pumps supplying 100% green energy to electric vehicles – so EV drivers can travel around Britain, completely emissions free.

You can find your nearest Electric Highway charging station here.

Ecotricity customer discount

If you’re an Ecotricity energy customer, you’ll only pay 15p per kWh to charge your EV at one of our Electric Highway charging points. You just need to follow these three simple steps:

  1. Switch to Ecotricity green gas and electricity
  2. Create an Eco ID to log in to your energy account and the Electric Highway app
  3. Download the Electric Highway app and register using your Eco ID

Download the app

The must-have app for electric car drivers. Gives you access to Britain’s only national network of electricity pumps – the Electric Highway.

Get in touch

Over the Christmas period our opening times are as follows:

Monday 24 December - 8am - 8pm

Tuesday 25 December - closed

Wednesday 26 December - 10am - 5pm

Thursday 27 December - 8am - 8pm

Friday 28 December - 8am - 8pm

Saturday 29 December - 8am - 8pm

Sunday 30 December - 8am - 8pm

Monday 31 December - 10am - 5pm

Tuesday 1 January - closed

Wednesday 2 January - open as usual

We're open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.

Give us a call on 01453 761 455, or email at fortheroad@ecotricity.co.uk.

For information on charging, check out our How to charge your car page.