How to use an electric car

Take a tour through an electric vehicle with us. You’ll be surprised at how straightforward they are.

How electric vehicles move

EV’s are like an automatic car. They have a forward and reverse mode. When you place the vehicle in gear and press on the accelerator pedal these things happen:

  • Power is converted from the DC battery to AC for the electric motor
  • The accelerator pedal sends a signal to the controller which adjusts the vehicle’s speed by changing the frequency of the AC power from the inverter to the motor
  • The motor connects and turns the wheels through a cog
  • When the brakes are pressed or the car is decelerating, the motor becomes an alternator and produces power, which is sent back to the battery

AC/DC and electric cars

AC stands for Alternating Current. In AC, the current changes direction at a determined frequency, like the pendulum on a clock.
DC stands for Direct Current. In DC, the current flows in one direction only, from positive to negative.

Battery Electric Vehicles

The key components of a Battery Electric Vehicle are:

  • Electric motor
  • Inverter
  • Battery
  • Battery charger
  • Controller
  • Charging cable

Electric motor

You will find electric motors in everything from juicers and toothbrushes, washing machines and dryers, to robots. They are familiar, reliable and very durable. Electric vehicle motors use AC power.


An inverter is a device that converts DC power to the AC power used in an electric vehicle motor. The inverter can change the speed at which the motor rotates by adjusting the frequency of the alternating current. It can also increase or decrease the power or torque of the motor by adjusting the amplitude of the signal.


An electric vehicle uses a battery to store electrical energy that is ready to use. A battery pack is made up of a number of cells that are grouped into modules. Once the battery has sufficient energy stored, the vehicle is ready to use.

Battery technology has improved hugely in recent years. Current EV batteries are lithium based. These have a very low rate of discharge. This means an EV should not lose charge if it isn’t driven for a few days, or even weeks.

Battery charger

The battery charger converts the AC power available on our electricity network to DC power stored in a battery. It controls the voltage level of the battery cells by adjusting the rate of charge. It will also monitor the cell temperatures and control the charge to help keep the battery healthy.


The controller is like the brain of a vehicle, managing all of its parameters. It controls the rate of charge using information from the battery. It also translates pressure on the accelerator pedal to adjust speed in the motor inverter.

Charging cable

A charging cable for standard charging is supplied with and stored in the vehicle. It’s used for charging at home or at standard public charge points. A fast charge point will have its own cable.


It looks just like a MINI. And drives just like a MINI. So what is it that makes MINI Electric so different?

As a fully electric car, MINI Electric gets 100% of its power from the battery, instead of a combustion engine. Get the lowdown on how it all works below.


Electric cars are powered by energy from the battery. This energy is converted into power by an electric motor, which is used to drive the wheels. An electric motor generates more torque, and eliminates the need for a traditional transmission and so the power goes straight to the wheels for instant acceleration. The MINI Electric motor provides 135kW of power, which is equivalent to a max power output of 184 horsepower. This means 200 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels delivering smooth acceleration from 0-62mph in just 7.3 seconds.


If MINI Electric looks familiar from the outside, that’s because it uses the same chassis as the MINI Cooper S. But look closer at the signature front grille and you’ll notice an important difference. There’s no air intake, because the MINI Electric motor and batteries require very little cooling.

The NSW Electric Vehicle Strategy is the NSW Government’s plan to accelerate the State’s vehicle fleet of the future. It outlines the government’s commitments to increasing the uptake of electric vehicles to ensure New South Wales shares in the benefits.

Electric vehicles provide benefits for individuals and the community. EVs produce no tailpipe emissions, have lower running costs than petrol and diesel vehicles, and provide health benefits through lower air pollution.

Through the Strategy, the NSW Government is targeting key areas of action to make New South Wales the easiest place to buy and use an EV in Australia. The Strategy includes rebates, phased removal of stamp duty for EVs, targets for NSW Government fleet, incentives for council and private fleets and major investment to ensure widespread, world-class EV charging coverage.

The Strategy is intended to increase EV sales to 52% by 2030–31 and help NSW achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Key Electric Vehicle Strategy actions

Here is a snapshot of key actions under the Strategy which will support the uptake of electric vehicles.

Rebates for new electric vehicle purchases

From 1 September 2021, the NSW Government will provide rebates of $3000 for the first 25,000 EVs sold for under $68,750. These rebates are designed to encourage EV uptake and are targeted to the cars more people can afford.

Further information on rebates is available on the NSW Government website.

Phase out of stamp duty for electric vehicle purchases

The NSW Government will remove stamp duty from EVs under $78,000 purchased from 1 September 2021 and from all other EVs and plug-in hybrids from 1 July 2027 or when EVs make up at least 30% of new car sales, at which time a road user charge will also be introduced.

Further information on the changes to stamp duty is available on the NSW Government website.

Fleet incentives to help local councils and businesses buy electric vehicles

As previously committed under the NSW Net Zero Plan: 2020-2030, the NSW Government will offer incentives to support medium to large sized fleets, such as local councils, car leasing companies and car share companies, to purchase battery or hydrogen fuel cell EVs. The incentives will be offered through a reverse auction process, ensuring the Government maximises value for money and uptake of EVs in New South Wales.

Further information is available on the EnergySaver website.

Building a world-class electric vehicle charging network

The NSW Government will invest $171 million over the next four years to ensure widespread, world-class EV charging coverage so current and future EV drivers can be confident they can drive their vehicles whenever and wherever they need to.

Further information is available on the EnergySaver website.

Making it easy to drive an electric vehicle with access to transit lanes

The NSW Government will update policies and legislation to allow EV drivers to use T2 and T3 transit lanes for a limited time to encourage EV uptake.

Regional tourism benefits

The NSW Government will roll out ‘EV Tourist Drives’ across New South Wales to ensure regional communities share in the benefits of EVs. The NSW Government is co-investing in rolling out ultra-fast chargers at 100 km intervals across all major highways in New South Wales to make it easier for city-based and regional EV drivers to travel in regional areas.

The NSW Government will also provide grants to regional businesses to install charging points for their guests to attract EV drivers to explore our State.

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at four Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke “long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state.” He has been named one of the “Top Lobbyists for Causes” by Capitol Inside, received the President’s Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of “Next Generation Fellows” by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.

How to use an electric car

My daughters got some light, and at least the illusion of heat, from candles during the recent blackout.

My family lost power and heat for three days during the recent winter storm and blackout. It was a pretty lousy experience and we struggled to stay warm as temperatures dropped to single digits outside. We moved all our food from our refrigerator into our cold garage to keep it from spoiling. We also struggled to keep our phones charged so we could communicate with family, figure out when power would come back, and try to keep my young daughters entertained. Our solution was to run an extension cord from our electric car into the house. That kept our devices charged, but could electric cars also power our furnace, refrigerator and more during blackouts?

The answer is not yet, but they could.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are essentially batteries on wheels. You can store energy in those batteries, and if EVs are equipped with something called vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-home technology, they can also be used to keep the lights on in emergencies. The technology allows the energy being stored in an EV battery to be pushed back into the grid or into buildings to provide power.

Electric car batteries can hold approximately 60 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, enough to provide back-up power to an average U.S. household for two days. Larger electric vehicles like buses and trucks have even bigger batteries and can provide more power. The American company Proterra produces electric buses that can store up to 660 kWh of energy. Electric garbage trucks and even big-rigs, with bigger batteries, are becoming a reality too.

If equipped with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-home technology, those cars, buses and trucks could prove invaluable during future blackouts. People could rely on their cars to power their houses. Municipalities, transit agencies and school districts could send out their fleets to the areas most in need. We could power homes, shelters and emergency response centers — and could keep people warm, healthy and comfortable until power could be restored.

In October 2018, the Pecan Street, Inc. started integrating the first V2G vehicle in Texas. The pilot project used a 2019 Nissan Leaf with a 40kWh battery in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood and “during the first year of the demonstration phase, Pecan Street was able to have the vehicle participate as a Behind the Meter (BTM) asset to aid Austin Energy in reducing its peak load during ERCOT’s 4CP events. Additionally, during that first year, Pecan Street did not see major battery degradation from daily charge/discharge events requested by the utility.”

There are hurdles: The technology is still developing, the vast majority of EVs currently on the road do not have this capability, and utilities would need regulatory approval before bringing it to scale. But done right it could be a great opportunity.

Pecan Street CEO Suzanne Russo recommends the “Public Utility Commission put rules into place requiring utilities to have a low-cost, quick-permitting process that allows households to allow for a bidirectional connection with the EV to the grid, which is needed to let them power their home off the vehicle (and also provide power to the grid).” She also suggests studies to quantify the value of V2G capabilities within the ERCOT marketplace and a technical study on how those homes reconnect when the grid comes back on.

According to “back of the envelope calculations” by Smart Charge America’s Joseph Barletta, if Texas had 10 million EVs, we could have mostly met the energy shortages during the blackout. But Texas only has about 35,000 EVs right now, so we need to significantly increase the number of EVs on the road.

There are very encouraging signs that we will start to see a big increase. General Motors is the latest major automaker to announce an intention to move toward producing only electric cars. Several major transit agencies, including in Texas, are starting to switch to all-electric buses.

But we must move faster. If we electrified the nation’s transit and school bus fleets by 2030, for example, we could have more than 500,000 large mobile batteries available across the country.

To support widespread adoption of electric vehicles, we need to invest in the charging infrastructure necessary to accommodate explosive growth. We also need to make sure that as EV adoption increases, the vehicles and infrastructure are set up to use the power-transfer technology. Nissan already does this with its Leaf-to-home system. Proterra offers transit buses equipped with the technology. Dominion Energy in Virginia is working with school bus manufacturers to develop and operationalize a large-scale school bus vehicle-to-grid program.

To standardize the technology and make it accessible to everyone, utilities should seek regulatory approval to implement programs and invest in vehicle-to-grid capable infrastructure, and automakers should make it easy for consumers to install chargers that can send power both ways.

As that happens, governments at all levels should work to incorporate electric vehicles into their emergency response plans. Shelters, hospitals, emergency response centers and other buildings critical to crisis management should be equipped with the infrastructure necessary to pull power from EVs. Heavy-duty fleets like buses and trucks present particularly promising opportunities to provide power to people in need, but all the electric buses in the world won’t do any good if we’re not prepared to have them charged and ready to deploy to the areas that need them the most.

With more EVs on the road and careful planning and preparation, we could have millions of mobile batteries available to help keep the power on in emergencies.

Because electric cars use electricity instead of fossil fuels, they are much more affordable to drive. This is especially true if you charge over-night or on weekends when the cost of electricity is usually lower. The average Canadian driver, travelling 20,000 km per year, can save as much as $2,000 per year on fuel alone.

In addition, electric motors are more sophisticated and durable than internal combustion engines. Electric motors have one moving part and do not require oil changes, coolant flushes, mufflers or exhaust systems, saving you hundreds of dollars per year on maintenance.

How to use an electric car

How to use an electric car

The burning of fossil fuels produces hazardous chemicals and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These pollutants contribute to air pollution and climate change. The only greenhouse gas emissions associated with your electric car are from the generation of electricity. While it is true that in jurisdictions that rely heavily on coal the environmental benefit is less strong, most of Canada’s electricity comes from hydro and nuclear, which are both low emitting sources and the average Canadian driver can reduce their car’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90%.

Governments around the world are encouraging the purchase of electric cars in order reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution and fight climate change.

The Canadian Federal government offers a purchase incentive of up to $5,000 for electric vehicle purchases. In Québec, electric vehicles qualify for up to $8,000 in incentives. In British Columbia, they qualify for up to $5,000 in incentives. The Federal incentive and provincial incentives are ‘stackable’. To learn more about Canada’s electric vehicle incentives, visit Government Incentives.

Plug’n Drive, in collaboration with Clean Air Partnership, also offers a $1,000 incentive on used electric vehicle purchases. To learn about the Used EV Incentive program, visit: Used Electric Vehicles.

How to use an electric car

How to use an electric car

Electric cars start from as low as $33,000 (before incentives) and most fall in the $35,000-$45,000 range. Electric cars come in all shapes and sizes from compact to midsize to SUV. With 40+ makes and models available from different auto manufacturers, there is an electric car for EVeryone.

Electric cars are cheaper to operate and maintain, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver better performance

How to use an electric car

Winters can be tough on electric car batteries as these need certain temperature window to function optimally and effectively. If the EV battery can be kept within this temperature window without the need to cool or heat it, it can give its best performance and the longest possible range.

Especially on winter mornings, when batteries turn cold, and need help to reach the optimum operating temperature. The battery also contributes to heating the car interior while driving which increases the energy consumption. But a few tips, as posted by Skoda, can be kept handy to ensure that electricity consumption is minimised and that the battery operates without impacting its overall life and delivers longest range possible.

Pre-heat the car and battery

Pre-heating both the car and the battery helps the battery reach the optimal operational temperature and also reduces electricity consumption. One can simply set a departure time and the car’s interior and the battery will be heated to the ideal temperature on its own. This implies that the driver will not have to turn on the vehicle’s heating to full while driving and this will save a lot of battery energy.

Heat the car efficiently

One should heat the electric car efficiently to minimise energy consumption. For example, using seat or steering wheel heating is more efficient in terms of keeping the occupants warm than heating the cabin air alone. The heating can later be turned down to a lower temperature.

Smart parking

It is ideal to park your vehicle where it is not too cold – better in a garage or a shelter or on the leeward side of the house. This is eliminate the need to heat the car much, especially in the beginning, helping reduce energy consumption.

Avoid unnecessary cargo

More the cargo weight in the vehicle, more energy will be needed to move it. Thus, make sure that in winter season and even during the rest of the year, you don’t load unnecessary equipment or luggage in your car which might lead to increased energy consumption.

Anticipatory driving

It is important to use anticipatory driving in winters more than any other time of the year. Keep a safe distance from the cars ahead, slow down smoothly for corners and use driver assistance systems to drive at an even speed. This will help provide a longer range and also stay safe on winter roads.

Ideal winter equipment

Special winter equipment for electric vehicles can also help extend the range such as suitable winter tyres with low rolling resistance and LED Matrix headlights that can reduce energy consumption.

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

Electric cars could help to power millions of households in the coming years, simply by harnessing their battery power. The electricity in the vehicle’s battery could be plugged back into the grid, instead of being stored. The technique was pioneered in Japan and our research will help understand how best to use it in the UK.

Many electric vehicles (EVs) are being produced with the ability to use their onboard battery to send power back to the electricity supply they are connected to. Whether that is the owner’s house, or the electricity grid more generally, these technologies have been led by governments and electric car manufacturers mainly in order to balance the demand on the power transmission network, or grid.

The ability to use these huge connected batteries complies with the future management and provision of cleaner grids – instead of burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, we should harness clean renewable sources such as wind and solar when abundant, and store the electricity in batteries for when not. So by charging electrical vehicles from renewable sources, we can lower our greenhouse emissions.

The plan sounds great, but is made tricky because electricity is difficult to store. But we already store huge amounts of electricity – in our cars. With around 1% of the UK’s 27 million households currently owning an EV, each with an average 60kWh battery, these 300,000 EVs could store an incredible 18GWh of electricity which could usefully be used to power houses. That’s more than the Dinorwig pumped storage plant in Snowdonia, the UK’s biggest storage facility, which stores around 9GWh.

How to use an electric car

By 2030, the UK could have almost 11 million electric vehicles on the road. Assuming 50% of these vehicles were able to feed unused energy back into the grid, this would open up opportunities to power 5.5 million households.

How do we make it happen?

In order to allow cars to power the grid on a technical level, three things need to happen. First, a two-way transfer of power from the car to its charging point should be made possible. This system is known as vehicle-to-grid and was first introduced in Japan after the Fukushima disaster and the following power shortage.

But there are more areas of development needed to roll out the technology. These include vehicle-to-grid charging hardware installation at home, vehicle compatibility, and energy market changes. There are also two competing types of rapid charging equipment, which will need to be addressed, perhaps with units that have both types of connector.

How to use an electric car

The third part of the technical puzzle is ensuring support from the power distribution networks. Some parts of the grid are incapable of having a significant amount of power being dumped back through the connections at the same time so local networks need to ensure they can cope.

Engaging drivers

Once the technology is all in place, how do we make sure that people engage in the scheme? We are researching consumer acceptance and knowledge of vehicle-to-grid systems, with a view to show drivers how the technology works and prevent their batteries from being flat when they’re needed.

At the moment, most trials are undertaken by energy companies or power distribution companies, who want to figure out how the technology works commercially and to help balance the power grid. But we believe focus should also be directed to cost benefits, eco-credentials and convenience for drivers.

Charging electric vehicles with the cheapest energy and selling energy back to the grid at the peak time could enable customers to earn as much as £725 a year. This is in addition to the fuel cost savings: an EV costs on average £500 a year to run versus £1,435 a year for a petrol or diesel.

Reducing the impact on the environment, saving on fuel costs, and powering your house on cheap, clean energy, are all great benefits, but instances of low car battery could lead to a lot of disgruntled owners.

Other concerns also include: the potential costs of installing compatible V2G chargers at home; impacts on lifestyle, and inconveniences of delayed plug-in electric vehicle charging (if the car is powering the house); and the fear of battery degradation (which some research indicates is justified, but outweighed by the potential benefits).

The UK’s electricity and gas regulator, Ofgem, intends to invest millions of pounds in creating a more flexible energy system to support the electrification of vehicles and the generation of renewable energy, and to make the transition to a low-carbon economy more fair, inclusive and affordable.

If enough drivers were to take advantage of the vehicle-to-grid technology, the UK could gain power generation capacity of up to ten large nuclear power station and reinvest the saving cost in developing clean energy and flexible energy system.

The process won’t be smooth. Solutions are numerous, but will need support from power companies, and even car manufacturers and finance companies. There are lots of parts of the puzzle to solve, but as the average car is unused 95% of the time, chances that its power source could be used for greener and cheaper living are enormous.

Many EV drivers charge their EV at home and while home charging is undoubtedly convenient, if done incorrectly, it can be hazardous. In fact, in the UK, 74 percent of EV drivers admit to charging dangerously due to the absence of local public charging points.

So, what exactly constitutes dangerous charging? And how can you charge your electric vehicle safely? Read on to find out everything you need to know about charging your EV at home safely.

How to use an electric car

Charging at home can be dangerous—if done incorrectly

There are many ways to charge your electric vehicle at home , and home charging is generally renowned for its convenience. However, without taking the proper precautions, it can also be dangerous.

To understand where the dangers lie, it’s first important to learn about the different levels of charging. Level 3 charging is the fastest type of car charging that exists, charging some electric vehicles in just 15 minutes. However, because of the high power output required, you won’t find these chargers at residential locations. They’re much better suited for on-the-go locations like gas stations or fleet depots.

Level 2 chargers are the most common type of charging station out there. Given their relatively fast charging speed, and the lower power output required, you’ll typically find Level 2 chargers at commercial or residential locations.

Level 1 charging is the slowest charging level, but it’s also the most accessible. It works by plugging the cable that came with your EV into a regular wall outlet. This, however, is where the potential dangers begin.

Many EV drivers charge their electric (or plug-in hybrid) vehicles with extension cords that just are not suitable for EV charging. According to a survey conducted among 1,500 EV and plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) owners in the UK, nearly three out of four charge their EV using an extension cord . Some owners even connect several extension cords together in a “daisy chain” to cover longer distances. Others use indoor extension cords outdoors…

It’s not hard to see how these charging methods could be dangerous. And while it might be tempting to cut corners with EV charging, is it really worth trading your safety for convenience? The answer to that question is always “no.” So, let’s take a closer look at each charging method and help you find the safest option to charge your EV moving forward.

How to use an electric car

Do you need a charging station for an electric car?

Not necessarily, as every electric car typically comes with a charging cable that enables you to charge your EV via a domestic socket. Thanks to strict automotive safety standards, these cables are normally fitted with protections to prevent overcurrents.

However charging your EV using a domestic socket can still be dangerous.

Sure, the standard protections are good news for your car and whoever is handling the cable. However, they’re not always enough to protect your home’s power outlet from overheating. This is especially true for houses with old electrical installations.

What’s more, charging your EV on a domestic socket takes a long time. Standard household outlets can deliver up to 2.3 kW (10 A). To put that into perspective, that means it would take over 25 hours to charge a 50 kW Peugeot e-208 to only 80 percent.

Therefore, we only recommend using a household outlet to charge your EV if it’s an emergency. It’s not a sustainable solution for recharging your EV on a daily basis.

Can you use an extension cord for your EV charger?

If charging an EV on a domestic outlet is dangerous, it goes without saying that adding an extension cord—or several—into the mix makes things even riskier.

Charging your EV with an extension cord is dangerous

EV charging requires far more power than your other standard household appliances, and most domestic extension cords are simply not designed to transfer that much power. Not only are they more likely to give you an electric shock, but they can also increase the risk of electrical fires.

Therefore, we never recommend using extension cords to charge your EV.

Charging your EV with a reinforced socket

If you’re looking for a safer charging option, using a reinforced CEE17 type socket is just that. These heavy-duty outlets are designed to deliver 3.2 kW at 14 A for several hours at a time, every day. However, it’s important to note that you must first fit your outlet with a suitable circuit breaker.

While installing a reinforced outlet is cheaper than purchasing a charging station, it still might not be the most sustainable investment in the long run. Charging with a reinforced socket takes a long time—only slightly less time than on a standard outlet—so if you need to drive often, this could potentially pose some issues.

How to use an electric car

The safety of a certified charging station

Charging stations are purpose-built to help you get the most out of your electric vehicle. This means they are safer, faster, and more robust than any other non-certified charging method.

Thanks to integrated safety features, charging stations dramatically reduce the risk of fires and electric shock . For example, if an electrical fault occurs, your charging station will stop the power transfer immediately and de-energize the cable. Not only does this protect your safety, but it also saves your EV, home, and grid connection from unnecessary strain.

Next to a safe charging experience, charging stations power your vehicle much faster than if you were to use a domestic socket. On an 11 kW home charging station, for example, it would only take five hours and 15 minutes to charge a 50 kW Peugeot e-208 —that’s five times faster than a home outlet. That means you can return home on an empty battery and be ready to go again the next day.

What’s more, charging stations often come with a range of smart functionalities to help you balance your energy usage. They’re also designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, so you never have to worry about running electricity cables in the rain. Using a certified charging station is always the safest option.

How to use an electric car

Take electrical safety seriously when it comes to EV charging

While charging your EV with an extension cord might seem like the cheaper, more convenient option, the dangers of electricity should never be taken lightly.

Luckily, there are many safer alternatives.

If you’re charging an EV, it’s always a good idea to use a certified charging station installed by a professional. This is also the case for when you’re charging your EV at home.

Next to convenience and a range of smart functionalities, home EV charging stations are designed to offer the safest EV charging experience for you and your vehicle.

How to use an electric car

All-electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity only. They are propelled by one or more electric motors powered by rechargeable battery packs. EVs have several advantages over conventional vehicles:

  • Energy efficient. EVs convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 12%–30% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.
  • Environmentally friendly. EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollutants.
  • Performance benefits. Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation and stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than internal combustion engines (ICEs).
  • Reduced energy dependence. Electricity is a domestic energy source.

EVs have some drawbacks compared to gasoline vehicles:

  • Driving range. EVs have a shorter driving range than most conventional vehicles—although EV driving ranges are improving. Most EVs can travel more than 100 miles on a charge, and some can travel in excess of 200 or 300 miles depending on the model.
  • Recharge time. Fully recharging the battery pack can take 3 to 12 hours. Even a “fast charge” to 80% capacity can take 30 min.

Batteries for EVs are designed for extended life, and a study by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggest these batteries may last 12 to 15 years in moderate climates and 8 to 12 years in severe climates. However, these batteries are expensive, and replacing them may be costly if they fail.

Electric vehicles (EVs) refers to cars or other vehicles with motors that are powered by electricity rather than liquid fuels.

There are currently four main types of EVs:

  1. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs): fully-electric, meaning they are solely powered by electricity and do not have a petrol, diesel or LPG engine, fuel tank or exhaust pipe. BEVs are also known as ‘plug-in’ EVs as they use an external electrical charging outlet to charge the battery
  2. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs): powered by a combination of liquid fuel and electricity. They can be charged with electricity using a plug but also contain an internal combustion engine that uses liquid fuel
  3. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs): use a fuel cell instead of a battery, or in combination with a battery or supercapacitor, to power their electric motors. FCEVs are typically fuelled by hydrogen and usually provide greater range than BEVs
  4. Non-plug-in hybrid EVs (HEVs): instead of using an external plug to charge the vehicle, the electricity generated by the HEV’s braking system is used to recharge the battery. This is called ‘regenerative braking’ and is also used in BEVs, PHEVs and FCEVs.

Electric vehicles in Australia

Electric vehicle uptake in Australia is currently lower than other developed countries but the number of EVs is expected to grow as cheaper models arrive and more charging infrastructure is rolled out.

Alongside the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, we published the Australian Electric Vehicle Market Study Report that explored topics such as the potential uptake of EVs in Australia. According to the report, EVs are expected to match petrol vehicles on both upfront price and range by the mid 2020s. Once EVs reach this price parity with internal combustion engine vehicles, sales of EVs are expected to rapidly increase.

The potential benefits of EVs include:

  1. Reduced fuel costs
  2. Lower maintenance costs
  3. Enhanced energy security
  4. Reduced air pollution (with associated health benefits)
  5. An improved driving experience
  6. Greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated if EVs are charged using renewable energy.

To date, more than 7 million EVs have been sold worldwide with the pace of sales accelerating rapidly. According to Bloomberg’s Q3 2020 Global Electrified Transport Market Outlook, more than two million EVs were sold in 2019. Bloomberg expects global growth of 7% in 2020.

Explore electric vehicle resources

How to use an electric car

Video: Electric vehicles playlist

Watch technology explainers & video from our electric vehicle project investments in Australia.

How to use an electric car

Podcast: Together in Electric Dreams?

Electric vehicles are finally breaking into the mainstream, but is Australia’s electricity network ready for them?

How to use an electric car

Projects: Electric Vehicles

Explore all of the electric vehicle projects ARENA has funded since 2012.

How to use an electric car

Blogs: Electric Vehicles

ARENAWIRE is home to news, analysis and discussion about the EV projects ARENA funds.

How are we supporting electric vehicle projects?

Our purpose is to support the global transition to net zero emissions by accelerating the pace of pre-commercial innovation, to the benefit of Australian consumers, businesses and workers. By connecting investment, knowledge and people to deliver energy innovation, we help to build the foundation of a renewable energy ecosystem in Australia.

EV charging can provide benefits to the grid if appropriately managed. If they are charged when there is plentiful cheap solar and wind power they can increase the use of renewable energy, with less need for electricity storage.

Conversely, if EV charging is uncoordinated, additional generation and network investment may be required, increasing total electricity system costs.

Working out how to manage EV charging to best complement an electricity system, increasingly powered by renewables, will require new technologies and business models, as well as coordination between the EV industry, electricity sector – including retailers, networks and market bodies – and government.

While our focus has been on the integration of EVs with the electricity grid in a way that benefits electricity users generally, the Australian Government allocated funding in the 20/21 Federal Budget aimed at addressing barriers to the roll out of new vehicle technologies.

The Future Fuels Fund, launched in February 2021, is helping businesses and regional communities take advantage of opportunities offered by new vehicle technologies across battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and biofuels.

What do we look for in electric vehicle projects?

  • projects to gather EV charging data to inform forecasting and integration efforts of AEMO, network service providers and other relevant parties
  • demonstrations of EVs being incorporated into passenger fleets to inform how a fleet of EVs interact with the grid in the Australian context
  • managed charging and V2G demonstrations, especially those involving networks and retailers, that gather evidence on different methods and the benefits of managed charging and V2G services for the energy market and end users
  • demonstrations of EVs being incorporated into heavy vehicle fleets (trucks and buses) to inform how a fleet of EVs interact with the grid in the Australian context.

What have we done?

We have supported several projects involving EVs and renewable energy, including trials to understand how EVs could provide energy back to the electricity grid when demand is high and supply from renewables is low; and consumer tools and ultra-fast charging infrastructure, which could help to overcome barriers to uptake.

Knowledge sharing

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Electric vehicles (EVs) have a battery instead of a gasoline tank, and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a combination of gasoline and electric vehicles, so they have a battery, an electric motor, a gasoline tank, and an internal combustion engine. PHEVs use both gasoline and electricity as fuel sources. More on PHEVs.

Watch the video to learn how electric vehicles and different types of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles work.


EVs and PHEVs are now available in multiple vehicle classes. There are currently over 50 EV and PHEV models on the market, and more models are expected to be released in the coming years. Visit for a full list of options. Not all models are available in all 50 states.


EVs produce no tailpipe emissions. While charging the battery may increase pollution at the power plant, total emissions associated with driving EVs are still typically less than those for gasoline cars—particularly if the electricity is generated from renewable energy sources like wind.

PHEVs produce tailpipe emissions when gasoline is being used as a fuel source.

To estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with charging and driving an electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle where you live, visit our Greenhouse Gas Emissions for EVs and PHEVs Calculator.

Driving Range

Did you know there are tax credits for All-Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles? Check out’s tax incentive page. Save money, avoid trips to the gas station, and help the environment. Don’t forget to look for state incentives, too!

The number of miles an EV will travel before the battery needs to be recharged is often less than the distance your gasoline car can travel before being refueled, but typically is still enough to accomplish the average person’s daily driving needs. An electric vehicle’s fuel economy is reported in terms of miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe). Think of this as being similar to MPG, but instead of presenting miles per gallon of the vehicle’s fuel type, it represents the number of miles the vehicle can go using a quantity of electricity with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline. This allows you to compare an EV with a gasoline vehicle even though electricity is not dispensed or burned in terms of gallons.

PHEVs typically have driving ranges that are comparable to gasoline vehicles. PHEVs have two fuel economy values: one for when the vehicle operates primarily on electricity (listed in terms of MPGe), and one for when the vehicle operates only on gasoline (listed as MPG).

Find the driving range and charge time for EVs and PHEVs on the Fuel Economy and Environment Label or

Note: The EPA estimates, including EV range, are meant to be a general guideline for consumers when comparing vehicles. Just like “your mileage may vary” for gasoline vehicles, your range will vary for EVs. In particular, factors like cold weather, accessory use (such as A/C), and high-speed driving can lower your vehicle’s range significantly.

Visit to get tips on maximizing your electric car’s range in extreme temperatures.


How to use an electric car

Depending on how far you drive each day, you may be able to meet all your driving needs by plugging in while at home. Most EVs can be charged with a standard 120 V outlet. To charge the vehicle more quickly, you may want to install a dedicated 240 V outlet or charging system. You may also be able to plug in at your workplace, or at one of the growing numbers of public charging stations.

A Little More on PHEVs . . .

Some PHEVs operate exclusively, or almost exclusively, on electricity until the battery is nearly empty. Then, gasoline is burned in the engine to provide additional power. Other PHEVs—sometimes called “blended mode” PHEVs—use gasoline and electricity together to power the vehicle while the battery has charge.

A collaboration between GM and PG&E will test-drive powering homes with EV batteries during blackouts.

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A Hummer EV chassis outside a GM event in Lansing, Michigan, in January. GM and the California utility PG&E will run a pilot program to test using energy from EVs to power homes. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

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General Motors and Pacific Gas and Electric this week announced a joint pilot program to test ways GM’s electric vehicles could help the California utility’s customers keep the lights on, either by providing backup power to homes during blackouts or feeding energy back into the grid when demand is especially high. It’s a significant step towards enabling EVs to become big batteries on wheels.

The idea behind the pilot is deceptively simple: An EV owner plugs their car into a charger at home, and instead of electricity simply flowing into the car’s battery, electricity can also flow out of it to provide power to buildings — a concept called “vehicle-to-grid,” which essentially makes the car an extension of the power grid itself.

The most basic version of this idea entails temporarily cutting off a house from the power grid during a blackout so that the car can provide backup power; at a more advanced level, a collection of EVs working together can act like a large backup battery for the grid at large. In most of the country, the power grid isn’t set up for something like this (simply put, the car and the grid don’t know how to talk to each other). But with climate change hammering the aging American power grid, the PG&E pilot is a sign that utilities are starting to think creatively about potential solutions.

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As the home of one million (and counting) EVs — the most electric vehicles of any state in the country — California is particularly well-suited to test the concept of using EVs this way. Climate change is also exacerbating California’s wildfire problem, and PG&E warned customers in 2019 that they would be facing up to ten years of precautionary blackouts as the company tried to prevent fires started by its transmission lines. This is quite literally a life-or-death issue: PG&E was found responsible for sparking last year’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest fire in state history, and charged with manslaughter after its equipment started fires in 2018 and 2020.

GM is by no means the only manufacturer thinking about vehicle-to-grid solutions, and in some ways it’s playing catch-up. Bidirectional charging — power flowing out of a car battery as well as into it — has been part of Ford’s marketing for its electric F-150 lightning since the truck was announced in May 2021, and PG&E previously worked with BMW to test ways EVs could support the grid. But experts say GM’s size and electric vehicle ambitions mean its pilot with PG&E has the potential to be a big deal, and could be the first real test case of the vehicle-to-grid idea.

“Bidirectional power on a large scale hasn’t really been performed yet,” said Kyri Baker, an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. “It’ll be a good case study to suss out any issues that might happen.”

It’s also an indication of how serious GM, which announced it would end production of diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, is about electric vehicles. The company lost money on every Chevrolet Bolt it sold, and projects like the PG&E pilot don’t come cheap.

“To see them put time and resources into a project makes me hopeful,” said Samantha Houston, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She added that the vehicle-to-grid could, as a concept, be a little speedier.

“I certainly think that utilities, given their scale, could go further faster if they wanted to,” Houston told Recode. “I’ve seen a bit of caution approaching these things because batteries on wheels are not something utilities have really worked on before.”

Part of the issue is that the grid might not be ready for energy to flow in the opposite direction than it normally does. That means utility companies would probably need to invest in replacing components, like transformers, so they can handle power flowing in both directions. Powering a single home, however, is easier: The building would simply need to be wired in a way that shuts it off from the larger grid when it’s receiving power from the car, which is probably why the GM-PG&E pilot is focusing on home backup power.

But this raises another problem: For your electric vehicle to power your home in a blackout, you need to be able to plug your car into your home — likely through a charger located in a garage or carport. There’s no good way to send power from public charging spots back into, say, an apartment, and it’s hard enough to figure out how to send energy from public chargers back into the grid at large. That inherently limits the benefits to people who have enough income to not only buy an electric vehicle but also live in a home with a garage.

“It’s still a program that’s only accessible by a lot of high-income residents,” Baker explained. “It’s one thing to be able to afford an EV, and it’s another thing to be able to afford the extra equipment.”

The consequences of climate change are inequitable, and economically disadvantaged communities are going to bear the brunt of the pain. It’s important, Baker and Houston said, that they don’t get left behind.

“I think probably the next step is to ask ‘how do we make the transition to electric vehicles more equitable?’” Baker said. “We still don’t know how to do that.

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Many new vehicle technologies have the goal of steering automobiles away from dependence on fossil fuels. One option is the all-electric, battery-powered vehicle that uses no gasoline or diesel fuel and does not directly emit any carbon dioxide (CO2). However, as much as two-thirds of the electricity used to recharge the vehicle’s batteries is produced by burning fossil fuels, the nation’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Add in CO2 emissions involved in manufacturing the cars and batteries and a battery electric vehicle’s (BEV’s) “carbon footprint” is much larger than it might seem.

Between 2010 and 2015, consumers purchased approximately 210,000 BEVs and 190,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)—small numbers compared to 226 million registered vehicles in the United States. Total U.S. sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have increased in recent years, but still represent only about 0.7% of new vehicle sales in 2015. California is home to almost half of all of the nation’s PEVs, but even in California, only about 5 out of every 1,000 registered vehicles are PEVs.

If that market share is to grow substantially, research and development will need to provide advances in energy storage. At present, batteries that store enough electricity to give a vehicle acceptable driving range are typically expensive, large, and heavy. Research is under way to find technologies that permit significantly more energy to be stored in a smaller, lighter package.

Even if the typical electric vehicle range is small (ordinarily less than 100 miles on a fully charged battery), it would still be enough for more than 90% of all household vehicle trips in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration. At present, these vehicles are not well-suited to longer trips, but that may change when BEVs with a 200 mile range become widely available.

The current typical ranges of BEVs would require refueling at direct current (DC) fast-charging stations. Frequent DC fast-charge refueling to extend a trip beyond the vehicle’s all-electric range, which takes about 20 minutes, can be inconvenient for drivers of limited-range BEVs. It is unknown what level of tradeoff between cost and range of a BEV will be required for mainstream market consumers to choose BEVs, especially as their primary vehicle. By contrast, a fuel cell tank or gasoline tank can be refilled within minutes.

A compromise—the PHEV—has also secured a small but visible place in the market. PHEVs have conventional gasoline engines as well as batteries that can supply enough energy to travel dozens of all-electric miles, depending on the kind of batteries used. They run on electric power until the batteries are discharged, then switch to gasoline for additional range—more than 500 miles for some models, which is equivalent to traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles.

In many cases, BEV and PHEV batteries are recharged by plugging them into an electricity source while the vehicle is parked. Often, this can be done at home at night with minimal added demand to the electrical grid.

Although many of us are used to the routine maintenance involved with a regular car, an EV (electric vehicle) is in many ways much simpler to keep in good condition. The benefits of regenerative braking, fewer moving parts and less fluids than a traditional vehicle mean that a green car generally comes with a much lower maintenance burden. To a certain extent, the same is true for hybrid vehicles, which benefit from part of the EV infrastructure. So, what do you need to know about how to maintain an EV?

How do electric cars work?

The concept behind electric powered cars is a very simple one. Electricity is stored in an electric car battery pack – this electricity is used to power the car’s motor and drive it into motion. As the electric car relies on a battery, one of the key differences for owners is that you will need to regularly charge your car. “How do I charge my car?” is one of the most frequent questions asked by those interested in owning an electric vehicle. The answer is simple: an increasingly broad network of public charging points are accessible across the UK and you can also charge your EV at home or at work. As battery range gets longer and charging points multiply, EV cars are becoming much more comparable with ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles in terms of distance and range.

How does electric car maintenance differ from a regular car?

When it comes to maintenance, there are some notable differences between electric cars and their traditional counterparts.

Simplicity. When considering the pros and cons of electric cars, the simplicity of the structure is a major plus point. Whereas a traditional vehicle has a whole different range of parts that will need to be maintained (e.g. oil, cooling systems, spark plugs, fuel pumps), most EV cars have three main elements. The electric car engine, the inverter and the on-board charger are where the most investment in maintenance is required.

Costs. As there are fewer elements to maintain with EV cars, the maintenance costs can be a lot lower. This will depend on the model, to a certain extent, as those that are less mainstream might be more expensive when it comes to spare parts.

Regenerative braking. Thanks to regenerative braking, EV cars tend to require half the brake maintenance that a regular car would need.

Fewer fluids. EV cars have far fewer fluids to maintain than a regular car and (other than the fluids mentioned below) these are generally sealed inside the infrastructure of the car and cannot be accessed.

Incentives. Currently, the only incentives of maintaining a regular car are avoiding the costs of emergency repair and the penalties that can be incurred for infrequent maintenance. For EV cars there are additional incentives for drivers, such as financial credit for swapping an old battery pack for a new one.

If we break down the elements of an EV vs ICE into individual vehicle components, there are still key differences between the two.

The brake pads. With an EV car, you will still need to ensure that you maintain the brake pads. However, thanks to regenerative braking, this is generally much easier to do. Regenerative braking helps to avoid the energy loss that takes place when a regular car brakes. Instead, when the brake pedal is pressed in an EV car, the motor reverses, which slows down the wheels of the car but at the same time generates energy that is transferred to the car’s batteries for later use. This is the same for both electric and hybrid vehicles.

The windscreen wipers. Electric vehicles have standard windscreen wipers and so these need to be maintained in the same way as for a traditional car. It’s usually a good idea to replace wiper blades twice a year – at the start of winter and the start of summer. However, if they become worn down in the meantime they may need to be replaced sooner.

The fluids. EV cars generally only have three key fluids that need to be topped up regularly: coolant fluid, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid. This is the case for most green cars, but some do differ for example, the Tesla Model S gearbox contains transmission fluid that also needs regular replacement. Coolant fluid is also required for the EV car’s thermal management system and will need to be topped up from time to time.

The battery. The EV battery will become less efficient over time and may eventually need to be replaced. However, this isn’t categorized as “regular maintenance,” as they can last for at least a decade. In fact, many manufacturers provide a battery drivetrain components warranty for 8-10 years or 100,000 – 150,000 miles.

While both types of cars require regular maintenance by the owner, electric cars are typically simpler, less demanding and generally more convenient to maintain. Why not lessen the burden of traditional maintenance and drive green?

Help us drive toward a more sustainable future in Arizona by choosing an electric vehicle (EV). Here are four steps to help you hit the road.

There are many reasons to make the switch to an EV. In fact, we made a list of them. Here are 21 reasons you should switch to an EV in 2021.

Hit the road in four steps

Step 1: Shop

Find your dream car with the resources below.

  • Browse the U.S. Consumer’s Guide to Electric Vehicles , to discover the newest models, including the EPA estimated driving range and charge time.
  • Find detailed report cards and reviews of new and used models at Electric Cars Report and Green Car Reports .

Step 2: Save

Potential savings depend on the EV model, when you charge and your SRP price plan.

  • Use the EV savings calculator to find out how an EV compares to its standard gasoline counterpart.
  • Consider the SRP EV price plan to get low overnight prices perfect for EV charging.
  • Save $250 when you purchase a Level 2 smart charger through SRP Marketplace. That’s a savings of more than 30%!

Step 3: Charge

Electric vehicles can be charged at home or at public charging stations.

  • Get your home charging station set up with our handy installation checklist.
  • Find public charging station locations using the Chargeway app , or Alternative Fuels Data Center .
  • Encourage your employer to install workplace EV chargers through SRP’s rebate program.

Step 4: Join

Join our EV community to receive a $50 bill credit and access special offers and opportunities.

EV owners: get a $50 bill credit

Join our EV community to access special offers and opportunities. Plus, you’ll receive a $50 power bill credit within two billing cycles.

How to use an electric car

Electric vehicles are slowly gaining traction in Australia as buyers weigh up the pros of low running costs and environmental benefits against lingering concerns about pricing, charging infrastructure and driving range. But what if we told you could use an EV to power your house? Or that you could make some money by selling power from your vehicle’s battery back to the grid?

Welcome to the emerging world of bi-directional charging. But what is bi-directional charging and how does it work? Here is RACV motoring expert Tim Nicholson’s guide to everything you need to know.

Nine things you need to know about bi-directional charging

What is bi-directional charging

A vehicle with bi-directional charging capability – also known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-home (V2H) charging – can not only take power from the grid to charge the EV battery, it can also supply power back to the grid, or power a home, using energy from the EV battery. Effectively it enables your electric vehicle to act as a home battery, storing energy that can be used to power your home or sold to the grid.

How does it work?

To charge a conventional EV, you need a unidirectional charger to convert AC (alternating current) electricity sourced from the grid to DC (direct current) electricity. This is done by a converter, either built into the vehicle, or housed in the charger. If you want to use the energy stored in the EV’s battery to power your home or send it back to the grid, the DC electricity from the car must be converted back to AC electricity. That’s done by a bi-directional charger, which looks similar to a regular home EV charger.

Bi-directional charging is already being trialled overseas in the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark and has been used to power houses, office buildings and even to power tools in the aftermath of several natural disasters in Japan. Nissan says the 62kWh battery in the Leaf e+ can store enough energy to power an average Japanese home for up to four days.

Is it available in Australia?

Not yet, but a trial backed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is underway in Canberra to test the technology here. The Realising Electric Vehicles-to-grid Services (REVS) trial involves 51 Leaf EVs that are part of the ACT Government fleet and when plugged in will inject power back into the grid when the vehicles are not in use.

Once the charging units have been tested and certified by the relevant authorities the technology will be ready to roll in Australia. It’s anticipated that will happen mid-year. RACV is also looking at conducting a bi-directional charging trial in the not-too-distant future.

Are all EVs capable of bi-directional charging?

No. Well, not yet anyway. Only those vehicles with a CHAdeMO charge port can facilitate bi-directional charging and, in Australia, that is limited to the Nissan Leaf EV and the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid. Other EVs are fitted with the more widely used CCS2 charge port which is gradually becoming the globally accepted standard. However, a draft standard for bi-directional charging using CCS is expected some time this year.

Manufacturers including BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Tesla and more are looking at rolling out bi-directional capability in their future EV models.

How to use an electric car

Electric cars with bi-directional charging capability can supply power back to the grid, or power a home, using energy from the EV battery.

How much will a bi-directional charging unit cost?

The price of units that are expected to be sold in Australia has yet to be announced, but they are expected to cost about $5000-$6000.

Will it save me money?

A car with bidirectional charging capability effectively acts as a home battery enabling you to store excess energy that can then be used to power your home or sold back to the grid. If that energy used to charge the car comes from a free or cheap source, such as rooftop solar, a free charger at your local shopping centre, or even your workplace, there’s the potential to substantially reduce your home power bills. Alternatively, you may be able to sell electricity back to the grid, charging your car off peak and selling back to the grid during peak afternoon and evening hours to optimise your profits.

Will vehicle-to-home charging drain the car’s battery?

According to Nissan Australia national manager of electrification and mobility Ben Warren, you’re likely to still have quite a bit of charge in the car battery by the time you get home at the end of the day. For example the Nissan Leaf e+ has a driving range of 385km and the typical daily commute is just 32km round trip, so if you fully charge your car you might still have about 350km of range (about 57kWh of battery capacity, out of 62kWh) remaining in the battery when you get home.

Ben says you can also set user parameters using a smartphone app, to ensure for example that the EV battery charge doesn’t fall below 40 per cent when discharging power to the house. When the car battery gets to 40 per cent, the charger shuts down and the house resumes taking power from the grid.

Is bi-directional charging safe?

There are measures built into the chargers to mitigate any safety issues. Bi-directional chargers work in a similar way to solar inverters, and have a sensor to monitor the load of the house and how much power is being pumped in and out of the house. If the sensor detects that system voltage has been breached, the charger will switch off.

Will the car battery deteriorate faster if I use bi-directional charging?

Ben says bi-directional charging does not have a detrimental long-term impact on the battery because charging and discharging is less intensive than driving – you can only charge or discharge at a rate of 7kW.

He says Nissan’s eight-year/160,000km battery warranty is not impacted by bi-directional charging, as long as the charger you use has been approved for use by Nissan.

How to use an electric car

An electric car motor works using a physical process developed at the end of the 19th century. This consists of using a current to create a magnetic field at the fixed part of the machine (the “stator”) whose displacement sets a rotating part (the “rotor”) in motion. We’ll take a closer look at these two parts, and more, further down.

The principle of an electric motor

What’s the difference between an engine and a motor? The two words are often used interchangeably. It’s important, therefore, to differentiate them right from the start. Despite being employed as almost synonymous nowadays, when it comes to the automotive industry, a “motor” refers to a machine that converts energy into mechanical energy (and therefore motion), while an “engine” does the same thing, but specifically using thermal energy. When talking about converting thermal energy into mechanical energy, we therefore mean combustion —not electric.

In other words, an engine is a type of motor. But a motor is not necessarily an engine. With electric vehicles, because the mechanical energy is created from electricity, we use the word “motor” to describe the device that makes the electric vehicle move (aka traction).

How does an electric car motor work inside an EV?

Now that we know that we’re talking motors, not engines, how does a motor work inside an electric vehicle?

These days electric motors can be found in numerous everyday devices. Those that use direct current (DC) motors have quite basic functions. The motor is connected directly to an energy source and its rotation speed depends directly on the intensity of the current. While easy to produce, these electric motors don’t meet the power, reliability or size requirements of an electric vehicle, although you may find them powering the windshield wipers, windows and other smaller mechanisms inside the car.

The stator and the rotor

If you want to understand how an electric vehicle works, you need to be familiar with the physical elements of its electric motor. And it starts with understanding the principles of its two major parts: the stator and the rotor. The difference between the two is easy to remember: the stator is static, while the rotor rotates. In a motor, the stator uses energy to create a magnetic field that then turns the rotor.

So how does a motor work when it comes to powering an electric vehicle? For this we must turn to alternating current (AC) motors, which require the use of a conversion circuit to transform the direct current (DC) supplied by the battery. Let’s take a closer look at the two different kinds of current.

Powering an electric vehicle: AC vs. DC

First things first, if you want to understand how an electric car motor works, you need to know the difference between AC and DC (electron currents).

Electricity moves through a conductor in two ways. Alternating current (AC) describes an electric current in which the electrons periodically change direction. Direct current (DC), as its name suggests, flows in a single direction.

The battery in an electric car functions using direct current. But, when it comes to the main motor of the electric vehicle (which provides traction to the vehicle), this DC energy must be transformed into AC via an inverter.

So what happens once this energy reaches the motor? It depends on whether the vehicle uses a synchronous or asynchronous motor.

Types of electric motor

There exist two types of alternating current motors in the automobile industry: synchronous and asynchronous motors. When it comes to an electric vehicle, synchronous and asynchronous motors each have their own strengths — one is not necessarily “better” than the other.

Synchronous and asynchronous motors

An asynchronous motor, also called an induction motor, relies on the electric-powered stator to generate a rotating magnetic field. This then pulls the rotor into an endless chase, as if it were trying to catch up with the magnetic field without ever succeeding. An asynchronous motor is often used in electric vehicles that are largely used for driving at elevated speeds for long periods of time.

In a synchronous motor, the rotor acts as an electromagnet itself, actively participating in the creation of the magnetic field. Its rotation speed is thus directly proportional to the frequency of the current that powers the motor. This makes a synchronous motor ideal for urban driving, which typically requires regular stopping and starting at low speeds.

Both synchronous and asynchronous motors work in a reverse manner, meaning they can convert mechanical energy into electricity during deceleration. This is the principle of regenerative braking, which derives from the alternator.

Parts of electric motors

Let’s now take a closer look at some of the different parts found in an electric vehicle’s motor: from electric motor magnets or Externally Excited Synchronous Motors (EESM) to the powertrain unit in general.

Permanent magnets

How to use an electric car

Some synchronous motors use a permanent magnet motor for the rotor. These permanent magnets are embedded into the steel rotor, creating a constant magnetic field. A permanent electric motor magnet has the advantage of operating without a power supply but requires the use of metals or alloys such as neodymium or dysprosium. These “rare earths” are ferromagnetic, meaning they can be magnetized to become permanent magnets. They are used for multiple industrial purposes: from wind turbine generators, cordless tools and headphones, to bicycle dynamos and… traction motors for certain electric vehicles!

The problem is that the prices of these “rare earths” are very volatile. Despite their name, they aren’t necessarily that rare, in fact, but are found almost exclusively in China, which therefore has a quasi-monopoly on their production, sale and distribution. This explains why manufacturers have been working hard to find alternative solutions for electric vehicle motors.

Externally Excited Synchronous Motors

One of these solutions, used by Renault for New ZOE, involves building an electric motor magnet from a copper coil. This necessitates a more complex industrial process but makes it possible to avoid supply problems, all while maintaining an excellent ratio between motor weight and delivered torque.

Guillaume Faurie, Head of Engineering at the Renault Cléon plant in France, gives an insight into the complexity and ingenuity of New ZOE’s motor: “The manufacture of an EESM requires dedicated coil winding and impregnation processes. The constraints of product performance expectations, the goal of reducing the weight-to-power ratio and the fast rate of production require us to effectively employ the most state-of-the-art technologies to perform those processes.”

The electric powertrain

In an electric vehicle, the motor comprised of the rotor and the stator is part of a larger unit, the electric powertrain, an ensemble which makes the electric motor work.

Also within this unit, the Power Electronic Controller (PEC) brings together all the power electronics responsible for managing the motor’s power supply and the charging of the battery. Lastly, it includes the gear motor, the part responsible for adjusting the torque and the speed of rotation transmitted by the motor to the wheels.

Together, these elements make the electric motor work smoothly and efficiently. And the result? Your electric car is silent, reliable, less expensive and fun to drive!

Are you new to electric cars? Have you ordered an electric car but you want some reassurance about how to use it? Then this beginner’s guide to living with an electric car will give you a brief explanation of what you need to know.

So, you’re thinking of going electric? Or maybe you’ve been a bit wild and taken the plunge already, but you’d like some extra information before your car arrives? You know, to make sure you’re doing “it” right.

Here are five things you should know to help get you started. You can either watch the short video or scroll past to read on.

1. Charging an electric car at home is really easy

Charging your car at home might seem like a daunting or strange thing to do, but we promise you’ll be a natural in no time. Here are some pointers:

  • Plugging in is simple – find the charge port on your car, take the charging cable (often supplied with the car) and plug it into the car socket and then a power source. We have a short video on how to “plug in” in our guide to home charging.
  • It doesn’t take very long – charging a car battery from empty to full can take a long time, but it’s very unlikely you’ll do this. Most of the time you’ll just “top up” the battery. Learn more about charging times here.
  • Most people charge their car overnight – this way the car has plenty of charge for your driving needs the next day.
  • It’s like a mobile phone – in many ways, charging your car is very similar to charging your phone. You usually plug it in overnight or when you don’t need it, so your car is always ready for you. Read about our editor’s “charging routine” here.

If all this sounds complicated, we promise it isn’t. You could take delivery of your car, plug it in when you need to and that’s it. But it’s always nice to be prepared.

2. Get a home charger installed

Most electric vehicles can simply be charged using a conventional 3-pin plug and domestic socket. But it’s not as convenient or as fast as getting a dedicated home charge point installed, like the ones Smart Home Charge offers.

These home EV chargers, sometimes known as wallboxes, are more powerful and typically add around 30 miles an hour to your car compared to 10 miles an hour from a 3-pin.

Why get a charger installed at home?

  1. It’s faster than a domestic socket
  2. It’s safer than a domestic socket
  3. There’s a £350 Grant available to buy a home charge point
  4. “Smart charging” functionality allows you to take advantage of cheaper off-peak rates on your electricity tariff. More on that below.

You can compare charge points and request a free quote for your own home installation. If you’re eligible, you can even get an extra £350 from the Government towards the installation cost.

If you want an electric car charger installed at home, we suggest you read this quick guide:

3. Charging on the road

How to use an electric car

Most electric car drivers charge at home most of the time. In fact, it’s quite rare to need to use a public charge point. These are some scenarios where you might need to use a public charge point:

  • You’re going on a long journey/family trip which is beyond the range of your electric car
  • You’re away from home and need to top up the battery for some away-from-home driving
  • You’re at a hotel, leisure centre, supermarket etc and you want to top-up the car battery while you’re shopping for example

For longer journeys, most people have a “bladder range” that runs out before your car’s range would. Simply plan a comfort break on your route and plug your car into a public charge point while you’re there. By the time you’ve relieved yourself, grabbed a coffee or something to eat, then your car has likely been charging for at least 20 minutes.

That may be enough already to see you through to your destination. Most electric cars are equipped with “rapid charging” and will get an 80% recharge in around 30-45 minutes from empty. But remember, your battery probably isn’t empty anyway and you might not need 80% to reach your destination.

Learn more about rapid chargers, how to use them, the costs and more in our Guide on How to Use a Public Charger.

4. Driving an EV is different. but good

If you’ve already test driven your electric car, then you have a pretty good idea of what it feels like. But here’s a reminder just in case:

  • Silence – the first thing you will probably notice about an EV is just how quiet they are. With no engine or pistons moving at great speeds, you are left with the soothing peace of the interior. On motorways you will notice more wind and tyre noise, but this is no louder than a conventional car – there’s just no noisy engine to mask the sound. You’ll soon get used to it and learn to enjoy the quietness of an EV. or you can stick the radio on.
  • No gears – electric cars don’t have gears. Not in the traditional sense anyway. They have “Drive” (or forwards) and “Reverse”. Simple.
  • Regenerative braking – once you get over the quietness of an EV, then “regen braking” is probably the biggest change compared to a conventional car. Simply put, when you lift your foot off the accelerator the car will begin to slow down. Regen braking is different to coasting though. The car will slow down quite a lot without using the friction brakes, all the while recovering this kinetic energy into the battery. In practice, it means you don’t need to use the brakes as often and you get some energy back into the car’s battery. Most cars let you adjust the severity of the regen braking or turn it off completely if you don’t like it.
  • Instant power – because there are no gears to change into and electric cars are extremely efficient at delivering power to the motors and wheels, they are able to accelerate almost instantly. It’s helpful in certain driving situations and it’s also quite fun! Be careful, though, as the instant acceleration may be quite surprising the first few times.
5. Low running costs

An electric car is cheaper to “fuel” than a petrol or diesel, that’s for sure. Electricity is cheaper than fuel, plus electric cars have far fewer parts than a petrol/diesel which means fewer things to go wrong and lower repair costs.

But did you know you can save even more money by choosing the right energy tariff? That’s right.

You see, some energy suppliers offer cheaper overnight rates specifically aimed at electric car drivers. That means you can plan your car charging around those cheaper rates and charge your car up for just a few quid.

This is entirely optional, of course, but you can learn more in our guide to energy tariffs and car charging .

Active travel and the use of public transport remain our top transport priorities. Some journeys require a vehicle though, and for these journeys we want to encourage residents and businesses to use electric vehicles as a clean and safe alternative to the combustion engine.

Electric vehicle grants and discount

Some cars running on cleaner fuels including electricity are eligible for a 100% discount from the London Congestion Charge, and may also receive tax concessions and other rebates.

You can get a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a grant the government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers.

Off-street charging points

Find out options for charging vehicles at home and at work.

At home

For residents and homeowners with existing off-street parking, charging an electric vehicle at home is the most convenient option. The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) runs the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme which offers grants towards the capital cost of the purchase and installation of a charge point in a garage or on the wall of your home.

However, please be aware that for any grant application to be approved, OZEV require evidence of off-road parking including vehicle crossover access. If you are considering installing a home charge unit but require a dropped kerb or ‘crossover’ to access your property, you will need to ensure that this is approved and completed before submitting your application to OZEV. Find out more about how to apply for a vehicle crossover.

Residents without access to private off-street parking should use public on-street charging facilities where available, and may make an expression of interest in having a lamp column charging point installed. Where no suitable on-street charging facilities are available you may consider running a cable across the pavement to your car. This is not supported as it can present a hazard or an obstruction for other street users, but if you choose to do so, it is your responsibility to make sure it is safe and does not cause a trip or electrical hazard. Under the Highways Act 1980 you would be liable in the event of an incident as a result of your action and you are advised to ensure that you have public liability insurance that specifically covers this situation. We do not currently consider it a priority for enforcement action if a cable is suitably protected and placed, but will review this position if the practice of running cables across the pavement becomes more widespread.

At work

The UK Government has launched a Workplace Charging Scheme, which offers grants for companies to install EV charge points. Installation will have to be carried out by an approved OZEV installer, just like the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).

On-street charging points

We are working with Source London and Siemens to grow the borough’s network of charging points. All the public electric vehicle charging points in the borough (and elsewhere) can be viewed on Zap-Map.

Lamp column charging

Lamp column charging is installed and maintained by Siemens under contract to the council. Siemens have teamed up with Ubitricity to provide lamp column charging on residential streets, making it a good option for overnight charging. More details are on the Ubitricity website.

July 2021 update: in the first half of 2021 some lamp column chargepoints have suffered from intermittent tripping events which have led to a higher than normal number of chargepoints being unavailable. Siemens and Ubitricity are working to resolve these issues. All chargepoints are safe. Read further FAQs from Siemens and Ubitricity.

You can report faulty chargepoints to Ubitricity by emailing [email protected] or calling 0800 024 6279.

Request lamp column charging

If you are interested in having a charge point installed in a lamp column on your street, please complete the online form. There are several hundred outstanding requests and it is unlikely that every request will be met, but we welcome all requests as this will help inform our decision-making process for future installations. If you have your own off-street parking, we will not be able to consider providing lamp column charging as other grant schemes are available.

Source London

Source London offers fast charging from dedicated on street parking bays. For more information about different membership options as well as Pay As You Go access and to sign up, visit the Source London website or call Source on 020 3056 8989.