What is owning an electric car really like?

Paul GrosvenorTech NewsLeave a Comment

I have been coming into work in a rather garish blue/black i3 for over 2 years now. You might be interested to know how I got on with it. I’m now into my second one so something must be right.

Well originally the thinking was that it was going to be a slow painful experience rather like driving a milk cart to work. Well that is certainly not the case, it goes like a rocket, is very quiet (sometimes too quiet but does allow you to play the “creeping up on pedestrians” game) and costs virtually nothing to run; even servicing is cheap as there isn’t much to service!

The new i3 will take you 160 miles or so on a single charge which for most of my journeys is more than enough. In fact, before I got an electric car I never properly realised how many short journeys I did. Probably 95% are less than 20 miles. The i3 is now being used for nearly all my journeys unless I need to go a very long way or carry a big load to the dump! And here is the thing, if I did need to go on a long journey BMW will loan me a conventional car for three weeks a year at no cost.

Ok, so let’s look at costs. You can get a new i3 for about £300 per month. OK not a cheap car but … no petrol, no tax, no congestion charge, low insurance, cheap servicing. At current prices I am saving about £80 per week on fuel compared to previously. In fact, I only go to the petrol station once every couple of months to fill the other car – that’s approximately the entire cost of the car covered before allowing for all the other savings.

Ah yes I hear you say but just think of the cost of electricity to charge it and the time it takes. Well from flat the cost to charge the car at home is approximately £2 (yes two pounds) and I do that about twice per week. Charging at home using a standard 3 pin plug takes about 7 hours but using the high-speed charger that they fitted at home (for free) brings that time down to 4 hours. If I go to a service station on the motorway the super charger will give me a charge in about 40 minutes; just enough time for a coffee cake and a trip to the loo. And the icing on the cake is that public charge points are often free to use and free to park; very handy if you go into Brighton or London and want to shop for an hour or two.

You don’t have to get a BMW i3 of course as there are plenty more now appearing that are worth considering; the Nissan Leaf for example is a great car; Its only real downside is that it looks like and drives like a completely normal car.

So, the conclusion – I like them and for the moment the technology will probably mean they remain the most common alternatively fuelled car for a few years yet; until the fuel-cell turns up – but that is the subject of another blog.

Happy motoring 😊

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About the Author
Paul Grosvenor

Paul Grosvenor

Paul is the Managing Director of Optima Systems. Some of his career highlights include the Carbon Fibre wing spar design for the Tornado jet, Fibre Optic message signs for UK motorway use, forecasting model for manufacturing processes and more recently the specification and design of Optima’s data visualisation and analytics platform, Cosmos.