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Your handy guide to electric cars

Electric power cable charging an electric car.

Electric vehicles (EVs for short) offer a cheaper, greener way to travel than their petrol and diesel counterparts, with an increasing number of people making the switch.

EVs are big business these days, but you might still have some questions about them, seeing as they're pretty new on the scene. Here's what you need to know.

'The future of driving'

All signs point to EVs being the future of driving. Go Ultra Low revealed 60,000 electric cars were registered last year – that's one every nine minutes. The market grew by a whopping 19% in 2018 alone, marking seven consecutive years of growth.

Back in January, the industry was shocked when an electric car scooped the What Car? Car of the Year award for the first time. As The Express explains, the Kia e-Niro’s success 'suggests electric cars are beginning to move from niche purchases to the mainstream, following years of consumer concerns over short distances per charge and high prices.'

The sale of new diesel and petrol cars will be banned from 2040 under plans to combat air pollution, though the government's under pressure to bring the date forward to 2032.

How EVs work

As Confused.com writes, electric motors generate turning force just like a typical engine. But EVs don't use gears – they just use more or less electric current so the motor turns quicker or slower. No gears means no clutch; just an accelerator and brake.

There's also something called regenerative braking. When you press the brake to slow the car, it boosts the battery. So, slowing down gives you free power.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and hybrids are different from EVs in that they use standard petrol and diesel engines, too.

What are they like to drive?

Just like a normal car, the driving experience depends on the model. But as a whole, EVs are pleasant to drive – no clutch and instant power makes pulling away a doddle.

Obviously the lack of clutch could take some getting used to, as could the lack of engine noise.

Costs

EV running costs will rise and fall in line with energy prices. But Confused.com estimates 100 miles cost around £4, compared to £15 for petrols and diesels.

There's no road tax on EVs, but you'll still need to register the car as though it was taxed. And if you live or commute in London, you won't have to pay the congestion charge. All this could lead to huge savings over time.

At the moment, EVs are more expensive to buy, but it's expected they'll get cheaper the more popular they become. In fact, it's predicted that they'll cost the same as their petrol and diesel equivalents by 2024.

Battery life and charging

Most new EVs lose a chunk of value the second they're purchased partly because the battery life shortens over time. But there's effort to resolve this issue through offering more battery leasing and replacement options.

Worries over how far EVs can last before needing a recharge is one of the main reasons putting people off buying them. But technology is improving all the time; while the first EVs could manage around 30-40 miles, there are now models capable of covering 300 on just one charge.

Battery life is improving and the number of charging points across the UK is on the up, so there's really no better time to go electric. But it's worth mentioning that EVs aren't for everyone – if you regularly cover a lot of miles, a hybrid could be more suitable.

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