Article | Guide

8 questions on switching to an electric car

019 Sept 2023

From charging times, to tax and range anxiety—a handy guide for anyone new to electric cars

The future is electric, and there are many good reasons for switching from a petrol or diesel-fuelled car to an electric vehicle (EV). If you’re considering making the change, chances are you’ll have plenty of questions. Here are the answers you’re looking for, together with links for a deeper dive into the world of an EV driver.

1. How easy is charging when I’m out and about?

Charging your EV when you’re on the road is as simple as plug in, power up and go. The bp pulse charging network is one of the UK’s biggest, with over 8,750 charging points including around 3,200 rapid and ultra-fast charging points. And since our charging points are conveniently located, you’re unlikely to have to go out of your way.

Want more? Find out more about charging on the go >

2. I’ve heard people talk about range anxiety. What is it and how can I avoid it?

Range anxiety can be something that afflicts new EV drivers but is also something that is easily cured. Basically, it’s a fear of running out of charge and being stranded.

With a little bit of planning—and the help of the bp pulse app—you need never run out of power. In fact, UK Government research indicates that 99% of car journeys in England are under 100 miles.. And if you regularly travel longer distances, several EV models have a range of over 200 or even 300 miles.

Want more? Check out our tips on dealing with range anxiety >

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3. And how long will it take me to charge?

That depends on the power of the charging points as well as your vehicle’s battery size and charging capacity. Charge points are usually 7kW, 50kW or 150kW, and the more powerful the charging point, the shorter your charging time will be.

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4. How much will it cost me to use a public charger?

When you use bp pulse charging points you have options for how and how much you pay. For example, if you choose to pay by contactless, tariffs start from £0.57/kWh at all our 150kW chargers and most of our 50kW chargers. Or, if you subscribe to a bp pulse full membership, you’ll pay our best value on-the-go tariffs, starting from £0.44/kWh. Oh, and all new members get one month's free subscription and we'll credit your account with £9 per month for five months (that's £45 on us!).

Want more? Read our guide 'How much does it cost to charge an EV?' >

5. If I drive an EV, do I still pay road tax?

In short, if you drive a pure EV that produces zero tailpipe emissions, then the good news (at the time of writing) is that you’re not expected to pay road tax - also known as ‘vehicle excise duty’). And for hybrid vehicles, the lower your CO2 tailpipe emissions, the lower the road tax you pay. For the most up-to-date information and guidance, please check the Government website.

However, it’s not quite as simple as that, plus the legislation is due to change in 2025. And don’t forget, all UK vehicles must be taxed, even if the owner doesn’t have to pay anything. For more detail on this topic, please follow the link.

Want more? Learn more about road tax on electric and hybrid vehicles >

6. Could I save money if I use my car to commute?

If you use your car for commuting, it might be worth exploring whether salary sacrifice is an option for you. As you may know, the UK Government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030. To incentivise the switch to EVs by employees who lease a car from their company scheme, the benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax on petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars has increased.

Whether you’re a 20% or a 40% taxpayer, leasing an electric car on salary sacrifice gives you potential savings on Income Tax, National Insurance and BIK tax versus the most similar petrol or diesel model.

Want more? Read our top tips on salary sacrifice >

7. What do new EV drivers have to say about charging their car?

We asked two members of our team, Kelly and Daniel, for their insights on going electric.

Kelly: “I charge at work or overnight and I always charge on a Friday night, so I have enough for the weekend. Having an EV is all about being planned and organised —you can’t just rock up and get fuel in five minutes. It took some time to adapt but I love it now.”

Daniel: “I charge at work and using the public network. I also have a home charger, but my wife predominantly charges at home, as she doesn’t have charging facilities at work. We’ve found a balance that works quite nicely for us.”

To get all of their top tips on owning an EV, read the full interview here >

8. There seems to be a lot of jargon connected with electric cars. What does it all mean?

Good question. There’s a link to an A-Z glossary below, but for starters here are explanations for a handful of the most used words or phrases.

Charging point: A charging point is a location where an electric vehicle can be plugged in to charge its battery.

Clean air zone: A clean air zone is a designated area within a city or town where measures such as charges for driving polluting vehicles are taken to reduce air pollution.

Electric vehicle (EV): An EV is a vehicle that does not have a petrol or diesel engine and runs on electricity stored in a battery or fuel cell.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): A PHEV is a hybrid vehicle that can be charged using an external power source. It has an electric motor and a gasoline engine and can operate on either or both power sources.

Zero-emission vehicle (ZEV): A zero-emission vehicle is a vehicle that emits no tailpipe pollutants from its onboard source of power. In the context of electric vehicles, this refers to vehicles that run on electric power and produce no direct emissions.

Want more? Discover our EV dictionary for a guide to need-to-know terms >

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