How can I make the right choice when buying an electric car?
With almost 12% of 100% electric cars registered by 2022, the popularity of electric mobility continues unabated. Gentle on the planet because they are zero-emission, electric vehicles offer a whole new driving experience: silence, roadholding, comfort and easy maintenance. And manufacturers' catalogues of electric models continue to expand. City cars, compact cars, SUVs or saloons, for private or professional use, electric cars are becoming more and more powerful. Autonomy, use, charging points, charging time, purchase price, purchase subsidies and environmental bonuses... here are all the criteria you need to scrutinise to make the right choice.
The battery and kilometres of range, the essential criterion
For many drivers, range remains the biggest obstacle to buying an electric car. However, the latest electric models now boast a range of 400 km, and even 600 km without stopping at a recharging point for the top-of-the-range models. To choose the right electric car, it's important to be clear about how you want to use it: for short city journeys or long distances, to determine how many km of range you'll really need. In short, to find the best electric car for you, you need to be clear about the performance you require.
To measure performance, battery capacity (the amount of energy stored by the battery) and fuel consumption (fuel consumption per 100 km in kWh) are two essential criteria. In simple terms, the greater the battery capacity of your electric car, the longer the range. And the more powerful the car, the more it will consume.
All manufacturers make range their main selling point, but beware: in real-life conditions, other factors influence the range and fuel consumption of an electric car:
- Excessive speed: take your foot off the accelerator and drive at 110 km/h rather than 130 km/h on the motorway, and avoid short bursts of acceleration and deceleration,
Tyre pressure: under-inflated tyres tend to increase fuel consumption,
The weather: avoid using the air conditioning or heating while driving as much as possible, and heat or cool the passenger compartment while charging,
Weight: a heavily loaded car or one with a roof box consumes more fuel.
According to ADEME, adopting eco-driving techniques can increase range by 15% to 20%. And you should know that most electric cars have an 'eco mode' that limits maximum speed and power output, and therefore increases range.
How long does an electric car battery last?
Today's batteries use lithium ion technology, which offers a high charge density in a small package. This is the most expensive component of an electric car, which explains why the purchase price of an electric car is higher than that of a combustion-powered car. Its lifespan is around 8 to 10 years, depending on the model, or around 1,500 charge-discharge cycles. A charge-discharge cycle corresponds to a theoretical full charge from 0 to 100% and not to the number of times you charge your car. In practice, an electric car is charged before it is completely empty.
Like all mechanical parts, electric batteries are guaranteed by manufacturers for 7 or 8 years and for a certain number of kilometres. During this period, the battery will be replaced or repaired if it malfunctions. For example, the BMW i3 and the Peugeot e208 have an 8-year, 160,000 km warranty on their batteries, while the Hyndai Ioniq extends the warranty to 200,000 km.
To sum up, if your car has a 52 kWh battery, giving it a range of around 390 km, 1,000 charge-discharge cycles represent 390,000 km. An electric car will therefore last as long in good working order as a combustion engine car.
Did you know that 46% of the weight of the materials that make up your end-of-life battery is recycled? And that the European Commission would like to make it compulsory to use recycled materials in the manufacture of new batteries by 2030.
Recharging an electric car battery
On average, an electric vehicle consumes 15 to 18 kWh to cover 100 km in a mixed cycle (urban and extra-urban) and 20 to 25 kWh to cover the same distance on the motorway. If we assume that an electric car consumes 18 kWh per 100 km and travels 10,000 km each year, the annual consumption will be 1,800 kWh ((18 x 10,000)/100). This calculation will enable you to anticipate your annual energy budget.
According to a study published by Qovoltis in 2022, the cost of recharging an electric car will vary from €2.65 to €20 to cover 100 km. This wide range can be explained by the type of recharging point used (public or private), the operator, the price per kWh, the off-peak/full-time tariffs, the vehicle's consumption and the length of time it takes to connect to the point. So before connecting to an electric car charging point, it's important to find out the price per kWh charged by the operator of the public charging point or by your energy supplier for a private charging point.
Accelerated or slow charging, it all depends on your use
Because charging points operate at different power levels, it is essential to refer to the maximum charge capacity tolerated by your electric vehicle and that delivered by the charging point. The charging power delivered by the terminal and the charge accepted by your electric car's battery are the 2 parameters that define the charging time.
Today's electric cars are equipped with 40 kWh batteries for small city cars, and up to 100 kWh for the largest electric models. Using a charging point that delivers 22 kW rather than 3.7 kW theoretically reduces charging time, provided the vehicle can handle the power. If your electric vehicle's battery has a maximum charge capacity of 7 kW, a 22 kW charging point will be limited to 7 kW and will therefore not speed up charging time.
As well as the power your electric car can accept and the charging time, the choice of charging point also depends on how you use your electric car. If you don't drive much and only make short daily journeys, a low-power station, such as those installed at home or in company car parks, is more than sufficient, but the charging time will be slower. On the other hand, if you regularly drive long distances, you'll need a more powerful charging point capable of recharging your car more quickly, such as the fast and ultra-fast charging points installed on the road and motorway networks.
For example, to gain 100 km of range, you'll need 2 hours or more with a slow 7 or 11 kW charging point, just over 1 hour charging time with a 22 kW point and less than 20 minutes with a very high-power 100 to 350 kW point.
If you have the option, a home charging point is the most economical way of recharging. A home charging point will allow you to do all the charging during long breaks, at night for example, when you can also take advantage of off-peak rates to keep costs down.
Private charging stations deliver 4 power levels: 3.7 kW, 7.4 kW, 11 kW and 22 kW. While the wattage determines the charging time, it also determines the power subscribed to your electricity meter and therefore the price of your electricity subscription.
Electricity meters for private customers come in several power categories: from 3 kVA to 30 kVA and up to 36 kVA. This rating is shown on your electricity bills. It's essential to have an electricity meter with a rating higher than that of your charging point to ensure that your electrical installation doesn't trip. All electricity suppliers offer installation solutions. They will advise you on the best installation for your charging needs and the way you use your electric car.
Charging at public charging points
For those who drive a lot or go on holiday and make longer journeys, it's essential to be able to recharge your car at public charging points. In France, there is 1 charging point for every 9 electric vehicles on the road (source: AVERE France 2022). They are mainly dedicated to fast or ultra-fast charging.
You won't be able to pay for your charge by credit card, as very few public charging points offer this facility. The electric charging card is therefore the essential card to have in your wallet if you drive electric.
The use you make of your electric car will determine your choice of charging card: the number of charging suppliers accepted by the payment card (there are over twenty in France and Europe), the rates per kWh, with a subscription or on a pay-as-you-go basis, and ease of use for payment, are all criteria to consider when making the right choice.
On the motorway or on the road network, the Fulli Electric Charging Card allows you to pay for your charging with a single card on Europe's largest network (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland) with 250,000 available electric charging points, including 85,000 charging stations in France. The Fulli app also helps you locate charging stations and plan your itinerary by saving your favourite charging points, giving you all the information you need about power, availability and rates in real time.
Optimising the life of your battery
Here are a few tips to optimise energy consumption and preserve your electric car's battery:
- rapid recharging is much more expensive and reduces battery life. Alternate recharging modes, taking advantage of long breaks to recharge whenever possible,
- Don't charge your electric car to 100%, but to 80-90%. Don't drive until the battery is completely drained, recharge it when you are close to 20%,
- do not leave your electric car stationary if the battery is empty; it is advisable to fill it to 70-80%,
- Avoid leaving your electric car charging at public charging points when the battery is full. In addition, some operators may charge you extra.
The purchase price of an electric car
Is an electric car more expensive than a combustion engine car? Yes, when you buy it, but not when you use it. The same applies to electric cars as to combustion engines. There's something for every price and taste, depending on your needs, model and equipment. From a small electric city car costing from €20,000 to a top-of-the-range saloon costing over €100,000, the purchase price of an electric car is still higher than that of an equivalent internal combustion car. The main reason for this difference is the cost of the battery.
The savings are felt over time: lower maintenance and energy costs - especially if you recharge at home (from around €2.25 to €3.70 per 100 km) - exemption from parking costs in certain towns and cities, and exemption from registration and registration fees.
What's more, the extra cost is offset by a number of purchase subsidies and tax breaks, including an environmental bonus, a conversion premium and local subsidies for low-emission zones to encourage zero-emission mobility.
Finally, there are other areas where savings can be made: the price of insurance in particular. According to a study by Assurland published in 2022, the premium for electric cars is 12% lower than the average. And for those who travel on the motorway in an electric car, the Télépéage offer combined with an electric recharging card, Fulli Duo Plus, can reduce the cost of journeys made on the APRR and AREA networks in an electric car by 5%.
The ecological bonus
In 2023, the eco-bonus is set at 27% of the purchase cost (including tax) of your new electric car, up to a maximum of €5,000. If your reference tax income per unit is less than €14,090, the bonus will be increased by €2,000, up to €7,000. For residents of French overseas departments, the amount of the eco-bonus is increased by €1,000. Cars must be purchased or leased for at least 2 years.
The conversion bonus
The conversion allowance is a subsidy for the purchase of a new or second-hand low-pollution car in exchange for scrapping a Crit'Air 3 or older car. Since 1 January 2023, the conversion allowance has been available only to households with a reference income per unit of less than or equal to €22,983. The amount is increased for heavy drivers (reference tax income/unit less than or equal to €14,089 with a home-work distance of more than 30 km or with a journey of more than 12,000 km/year in the context of professional activity with the personal vehicle).
The amount of the conversion premium is increased by €1,000 for people living or working in a low-emission mobility zone (ZFE). 11 French local authorities and metropolitan areas that have made air quality their priority are offering this assistance, including the city of Paris, the Lyon metropolitan area, Toulouse metropolitan area, and the Rouen-Normandie metropolitan area...
Electric cars are no more expensive to run than internal combustion cars
On the other hand, it is much more environmentally friendly. In fact, over the entire life cycle of a medium-sized electric vehicle (manufacture, battery, use, end of life) that runs on decarbonised electricity, as in France or Sweden, it emits 3 to 4 times less CO2 than its internal combustion equivalent (Source: Carbone 4).