Category Archives: Blog

Posts related to personal experiences, and the FuelIncluded.com website.

Government Grant for Electric Car Home Charge Point

This is a summary of the UK Government’s scheme for subsidising home charge points for electric cars, known as the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).

It has been kept relatively simple; if you need detailed guidance you should consult the original document (linked at the bottom).

1. Most plug-in vehicle owners carry out most charging at home.

2. Customers who are the registered keeper or have primary use of an eligible electric vehicle may receive up to 75% (capped at £500, inc VAT) off the total capital costs of the chargepoint and associated installation costs.

3. The key features of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme are as follows:

  • The grant is a 75% contribution towards the cost of one chargepoint and its
    installation up to a maximum of £500 (including VAT) per household/eligible
    vehicle.
  • Customers must provide evidence of being the primary user of an eligible electric vehicle or have a vehicle on order in order to be able to qualify for the grant.
  • The date of installation must not be more than 4 months ahead of the date
    of delivery or start date of vehicle use.

4. The grant covers up to 75% of the eligible costs of chargepoint installation, the
customer form requires confirmation of who is paying the balance of the
installation costs.

5. The grant for 75% must be claimed against an approved chargepoint and
made on your behalf by a chargepoint installer which has been authorised
by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

6. You must have off street parking facilities suitable for chargepoint installation (a survey prior to installation should be conducted by your installer). If you do not have off street parking, your Local Authority may be able to help via a central Government grant.

7. The authorised chargepoint installer will claim the 75% (capped at £500) on your behalf. How the remaining cost is to be met should be agreed with your installer prior to installation. In any event, you should satisfy yourself whether you are expected to pay the remaining cost, and if not who will be paying for it, before the installation takes place. The grant will only be paid in arrears (i.e. once installation is complete).

8. No more than 2 chargepoints can be funded at one property irrespective of how many vehicles are registered there.

Source: EVHS – Guidance for Customers: November 2016

Electric Cars and why this technophobe has one

I’m a 34 year old woman who is not naturally drawn to technology and yet I am an early adopter of the electric car.

I try to live a simple life, and there is little I enjoy more than a bit of nostalgia and switching off from the modern world, so it was a bit of a surprise to some of my friends and family when I decided to get an electric car.

The truth is, that it’s actually not much different to driving a regular car, except you’re considering your fuel consumption differently and of course you are saving the environment, and those are good things to concern yourself with, right?!

I took my mum and sisters to the spa the other week, it was the first time my older sister had been in the car and she was sceptical “are we going to get there and back OK, is there enough charge” she must have said this at least 4 times before she forgot about range and concerned herself with other aspects of the car. She was like a kid with a new toy, pressing the touch screen display, asking “what does this do”, “what does that do”, then noticing how silently the car moves and yet how quick it is off the mark. She was impressed. On the way home she noticed the remaining range “36 miles, oh we’ll get home on that” – she was getting it.  More at ease and enjoying the ride she asked if I wanted any money towards fuel, I laughed and said “well the journey cost less than £1, so I think I’ll let you off” – she was speechless.

‘Getting over’ the technology aspect of the car is very easy, there isn’t actually much to learn, in fact the car itself makes driving and running it very simple, and I do love a simple life 😊

A Mother’s Tale of Electric Cars

I love my electric car! It’s nippy and smooth to drive, all at the same time. Somehow it seems to glide effortlessly along and I can weave in and out of traffic very easily. I use it for all my local errands – family shop, trips to the gym, plus the never-ending Mum-taxi drop offs and pick ups……At night, I plug it in when I finally get home and it is fully charged the next day, ready to go.

Nissan Leaf – a Perfect Family Car

I rarely use up more more than 30% of the battery going about my usual day, so I don’t really have any concerns about the battery life. It took a little getting used to on longer journeys into London – I learned to drive just a little bit slower to conserve the battery – although when we get our new Nissan Leaf next week, it will have a longer range and I can then really put my foot down😉. The free congestion charge and almost free parking in Westminster always make up for the extra 5 minutes in the car!

Most of all, I enjoy the engine quietness and the ‘smug value’ that comes from knowing that I am doing the right thing for my children by not adding more polluting emissions to the earth’s atmosphere. On top of that, it makes financial sense – a new car (let me say that again, a new car – I have NEVER had a new car before!) for just a little more per month than we previously paid for fuel. It’s a no-brainer for me.

Zoe Battery Recovery (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

Driving style (example shown in Renault ZOE 22kWh)

One thing any existing or soon to be, Electric Vehicle driver should always bear in mind is ‘Driving Style’, this can sometimes, quite dramatically, impact your expected range.

Electric Vehicles are smart, they analyse your driving style and take this into account when estimating your expected range. If you are a rapid accelerator and tend to brake hard, you might find that your estimated range will drop quite low. I certainly have a tendency to forget this and simply enjoy the ride a bit too much when I’m doing short journeys, I find myself in this situation quite a lot.

But it can easily be rectified, you simply need to adjust your driving style, drive more economically and with a bit more consideration, soon you won’t realise you’re doing it and the car will give you better range expectations. The good news is that this is easy to do by just reacting to the feedback that the acceleration indicator on the dashboard gives you.

Your Visual Guide to Acceleration

Zoe Accelerating (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
Zoe Accelerating (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

When you use rapid acceleration/peddle to the metal, it shows as many Yellow bars.

If you find you are constantly in yellow, be prepared to see your estimated range drop quite considerably.

ZOE gradual acceleration (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
ZOE gradual acceleration (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

When you start driving more economically, with gradual acceleration, you can see this as fewer Green bars.

Get the most out of your range, try and stay within the green bars. If you switch to Eco mode the car will help you do this by restricting your maximum acceleration.

Success! Your range will become more predictable and consistent.

Your Visual Guide to Regenerative Braking

Regenerative Braking, also known as Battery Recovery is the clever trick where an Electric Vehicle reverses the behaviour of an electric motor. Instead of using electricity from the battery to create car motion, it uses the motion of the car to create electricity and recharge the battery. This results in the car slowing down.

Zoe Battery Recovery (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
Zoe Battery Recovery (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

So, the battery recovery allows the car to slow itself when the road allows, and shows visually as Blue bars.

You will also notice the battery bar on the left gives a visual indication that a recharge is taking place. As a result, your range will sometimes increase the longer the car is moving without acceleration.

ZOE Display (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
ZOE Display (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

An especially nice surprise is finishing your journey with more range than you started with. This can actually happen if you dramatically change your driving style during your journey, or if you do short trips. It’s a very satisfying moment and often results in excessive smugness.

Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: POD Point)

Choosing a Charge Point

When buying an electric car it is nearly always worthwhile to get a dedicated charge point installed at home.

It’s more convenient than an ‘occasional use’ or ‘granny’ (13 Amp) charge cable because you don’t need to reel it up and put it away each time.

Home Charging a Renault ZOE with a Dedicated Charge Point (Image: Charging Solutions)
Charging a Renault ZOE with a Home Charge Point (Image: Charging Solutions)

It will also be significantly faster because a dedicated charge point can provide more power without the risk of overheating. Also some electric cars, such as the Renault ZOE, don’t come with such a cable and buying one yourself can be very expensive (£500+).

The good news is that the installation of domestic charge points is subsidised by the UK government.

There are 3 decisions to be made when selecting the type of charge point for your car:

  • Tethered or Untethered
  • Connector Types
  • Power Level

 

Tethered or Untethered

There is usually the choice of a ‘tethered’ cable (it is fixed to the charge point) or an ‘untethered’ cable (it plugs into and can be removed from the charge point).

Untethered and tethered charge points (Image: Chargemaster)
Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: Chargemaster)

Untethered has the advantage of allowing different cables to be connected (for example you can use the same charge point for a Nissan Leaf and a Renault ZOE). However, most people choose tethered because it avoids the inconvenience of connecting a cable whenever you need to charge (usually daily). It also reduces the risk of the cable being stolen.

A charge point with a tethered cable will usually cost more than an untethered one (typically about £50 more) because of the cost of its cable.

Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: POD Point)
Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Images: POD Point)

If you choose untethered you will need to use your own cable to connect to the car; it is the same cable that would be used to connect to a public charging point. It may come free with the car, for example the Renault ZOE or the Nissan Leaf with the 6.6kW charge option come with one. Otherwise you will need to buy one (we can advise you on suppliers).

 

Connector Types

All untethered domestic charge points supplied in the UK come with a Type 2 socket on the charge point, just as all public charge points now have (or at least officially should have) Type 2 sockets. Similarly all charge cables have a Type 2 plug at the charge point end.

If the cable is tethered then you need to tell the installer the type of plug you want at the car end. This will depend on the car:

  • Type 1 socket: Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Kia Soul EV
  • Type 2 socket: Renault ZOE, BMW i3, VW e-Golf and Hyundai IONIQ

The Type 2 or ‘Mennekes’ connector is the official standard in Europe and should eventually replace the Type 1.

 

Power Level

A dedicated charge point can provide higher powers than a typical occasional use charging cable which will run at 10 Amps, equivalent at 230 Volts to 2.3 kilowatts. The charge will take place at the highest power that both the charge point can provide and the car can use.

There are two common power levels:

  • 16A = 3.5kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 3.3kW, the Mitsubishi Outlander and the VW e-Golf.
  • 30A/32A = 7kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 6.6kW, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV and Hyundai IONIQ. The standard Renault ZOE can use this level, in fact anything up to 22kW.

The higher power reduces the charge time so a typical EV battery will charge in about 8 hours at 16A but in about 4 hours at 32A.

It may be best to install the highest power charge point you can afford; even if your current car can’t use all the power, the next one almost certainly will be able to.

Electric Goes Second Hand

Good news for those who want to join the Electric Revolution, but prices have seemed too high. Like any new market, the Electric car market is evolving and changing. As the early buyers of a few years ago are trading in their cars, there is a growth in the stock of high quality, low mileage electric cars.

So, to meet growing demand we are now providing second hand electric cars to meet our customers needs.

Deal of the week: White 2015 Nissan Acenta 24 kWh

£500 deposit, £199.99 per month

Nissan are helping with Dealer contributions on selected cars. This deal therefore has an additional £1000 contribution from Nissan enabling you to get this terrific deal:
White 2015 plate Nissan Leaf Acenta 24 kWh with only 8000 miles on the clock.
£500 deposit, £199.99 per month payment for a 3 year PCP lease with 8,000 miles per year.

Let us know if you want this car

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2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Last Chance to Register a Tax Free Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)

In just a few weeks time there will be a big change in the car tax (‘vehicle excise duty’ or VED) arrangements for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV; here’s a brief summary.

The government has changed the basis on how the tax rates for cars are calculated – previously it was just on carbon dioxide emissions, so many low emission vehicles (such as small cars and all PHEVs) had no tax to pay. Now all cars with emissions that are non-zero, so all cars that aren’t 100% electric, have to pay tax. In the first year the amount depends on the level of emissions; in subsequent years it is £140 across the board.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4x4
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4×4

The most popular plug-in hybrid in the UK is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV so it will be most affected. However, there remains just enough time to buy one from stock and get it registered before the deadline. In this case it gets free car tax for life; if registered after the deadline it pays tax for life.

Furthermore, there is an additional tax element for cars with a value over £40000; this is know as the ‘Premium Rate’ and adds an additional £620 over three years. Top-end Outlanders, typically above the GX4h spec, would get hit with this on top.

For more details see the Car tax 2017 article on the Next Green Car site.

Edit 22/3/17: Having looked into this a little further, I think NextGreenCar may have made a mistake. They are considering PHEVs to be petrol whereas they should probably be considered to be Alternative Fuel Vehicles which include hybrids (though in what sense any car running 100% on fossil fuels can be considered ‘alternative fuel’ beats me). Anyway, if so, the first year cost would be £0 rather than £10 and the follow-on years would cost £130 not £140. The official guidance is here: Vehicle tax rate tables.

CenterParcs' All-Electric Renault Kangoo ZE Van (Image: T. Larkum)

Staying at Center Parks with a Renault ZOE EV

In the summer we spent the bank holiday weekend at Center Parks Longleat Forest with family. We travelled there and back in the ZOE.

Naturally I hoped to charge while there but it turned out to be problematic. It seemed pretty clear that CenterParks was not setup for EV charging. Initially we were offered the use of a 13A socket in a shed in a far corner of one of the main car parks.

CenterParcs EV Charging Point in a Car Park Equipment Shed (Image: T. Larkum)
CenterParcs EV Charging Point in a Car Park Equipment Shed (Image: T. Larkum)

I plugged in and charging started fine. However, I was a bit sceptical and went back after a few hours to find that the charging had stopped, seemingly a circuit breaker had triggered. I restarted the charge, but disappointingly, I returned after a few hours to check on it to see that it had failed again.

CenterParcs EV Charging Point: the 13A socket above the bicycle (Image: T. Larkum)
CenterParcs EV Charging Point: the 13A socket above the bicycle (Image: T. Larkum)

I reported this and that night I was allowed to charge at the external sockets by the main entrance (next to the in and out barriers). However, the same thing happened and I gave up at that point. Instead we charged on our way home. So, overall, we were not too impressed with CenterParks’ provisions for EV charging (though apparently the provision of charge points has improved since).

CenterParcs' All-Electric Renault Kangoo ZE Van (Image: T. Larkum)
CenterParcs’ All-Electric Renault Kangoo ZE Van (Image: T. Larkum)

On the plus side, we did see that Center Parks were making use of all-electric Kangoo ZE vans for work around the park. And we did enjoy our time there, even if it was a bit pricey.