I just bought an MG5 electric car with a range of 214 miles. I bought it because it was on special offer at £18,000 and was a hell of a lot of new car for that price. My old car had gone way past its sell-by date and it was time to change but when I looked at the mud in the back where my dogs shook themselves and the scratches on the sides from the narrow country lanes I was confronted with an awkward decision. Should I buy an expensive new petrol car that was likely to plummet in second hand value within 10 years as new petrol cars become banned, or a second hand petrol car or take the plunge and buy electric? Decent second hand petrol estates (dog cars) cost £10,000 and might have problems entering cities within five years so the £18000 special offer on a new MG5 clinched it. I have
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I just bought an MG5 electric car with a range of 214 miles. I bought it because it was on special offer at £18,000 and was a hell of a lot of new car for that price.
My old car had gone way past its sell-by date and it was time to change but when I looked at the mud in the back where my dogs shook themselves and the scratches on the sides from the narrow country lanes I was confronted with an awkward decision. Should I buy an expensive new petrol car that was likely to plummet in second hand value within 10 years as new petrol cars become banned, or a second hand petrol car or take the plunge and buy electric? Decent second hand petrol estates (dog cars) cost £10,000 and might have problems entering cities within five years so the £18000 special offer on a new MG5 clinched it. I have moved from being an evil gas guzzler to a paragon of environmentalism in two transactions. Well, its not been quite that simple.
When I got the MG home I could only recharge it using an extension lead from the garage. Fortunately I had some armoured electrical cable and an old weatherproof electricity socket in the garage and within a day of hard work, drilling, clipping and connecting, had the ability to charge outside.
An outside 13A socket allows the car to charge at 10 amps, adding ten miles of range every hour. All I need to do is remember to put the car on charge whenever it arrives home. This week was different because I went on three 30 mile journeys yesterday and forgot to plug in last night. Today I am going 40 miles in the unseasonably chilly weather and heavy rain with three passengers so will need to operate the air conditioning and screen heaters and will consume much more power than normal. This should not be a real problem because I still have over 90 miles range even accounting for the heavy power drain.
The way to banish my "range anxiety" is to install a rapid charger which delivers 7.5kWh of charging capacity. In a couple of hours this morning I could have rapidly charged with 60 miles of range. But life is not so simple. I checked the garage wiring and discovered that the cable from the house only supplies 15 amps of continuous current but the rapid charger needs 30 amps. After some quick phone calls I discovered that for £4000 to £6000 I could have a new cable and a rapid charger installed. Most of the cost is in the wiring from the house but the charging units themselves are not cheap (£360-£1000, including a £130 charger-to-car cable). The good news is that the Government will give me £350 towards the costs, providing that I install a charge point that can be monitored (no doubt with future taxation in mind) and use an approved installer. Having considered these prices WTF is the expression that came to mind.
Anyway, I have bought 50m of 50 amp armoured cable, the cheapest charging unit, a consumer unit for the garage and a trenching spade (Newcastle shovel). I will ask my friendly, qualified electrician to sign off the installation. The total cost will be about £550, I'm damned if I am going to pay £5000. The Government will not give me £350 because I am not "approved" but I calculate that it will be 2040 before they grudgingly agree to pay for my charging unit to be "upgraded" to one that they can tax.
Which brings me to the cost of electricity. All the newspapers tell you that you should use an electricity supplier that provides cheap off-peak electricity and to cash in on this by charging at night, they are especially keen on "Octopus". My advice is to beware of tentacles. My current electricity supplier charges 16p a KWh for normal supply whereas Octopus charges 19p which means that I would lose 3p a KWh for all my normal electricity usage. Also I do not want to only recharge at night.
Despite all of these problems I am actually pleased with the MG5. It is very quiet and smooth, fast and powerful. There is plenty of room for the dog and I have even been able to put 3m lengths of electrical conduit (steel pipes) inside it, using a soft FFP3 mask on the end to protect the windscreen. Not that I would have needed the conduit had I not bought an EV.
My advice to prospective EV purchasers? Its going to happen so take the plunge but don't expect it to be seamlessly easy to make the transition.
If you mainly use a rapid charger your lithium batteries will need an "equilibrating charge" every few weeks. This involves charging them slowly at 10 amps. It means that you may need a normal 13 amp outdoor socket as well as a rapid charger. My advice is to start with an ordinary socket and work out whether you need a rapid charger later.
Lithium batteries should not be fully charged except for long journeys. In ordinary use 80% charge should be the maximum to avoid battery degradation. Some people advise that you should not allow the charge to fall below 20% except in emergencies. See How do you take care of your electric car battery?
The next five years will be the golden years of EV motoring where some hotels and supermarkets will give you free electricity. However, if you do need to use commercial chargepoints make sure you have downloaded the appropriate apps for your smartphone (Pod-Point, BP Pulse etc). Be prepared for horrendous charges at some public chargers (around 40p/KWh at some).
Although there are plenty of ordinary public chargers half of these are Tesla Type 1 whereas most EVs are Type 2. It is possible to buy a Type 1 to Type 2 adaptor for about £100. Yes, £100 for a simple connector, its probably better value to go 5 miles out of your way to find a Type 2 charger.
Useful Link: Energy Saving Trust