What are electric vehicles?
Electric vehicles, or EVs, are cars or vans where the petrol or diesel engine is replaced or supplemented by battery powered electric motors. There are four main types of electric vehicle:
- Full EV (BEV) – A vehicle solely powered by batteries which needs to be plugged in to be charged.
- Plug in range extended EV (E-REV) – A vehicle powered by batteries, but with a small petrol/diesel generator fitted, that can help extend the range of the vehicle by topping up the batteries while driving.
- Plug in hybrid (PHEV) – A vehicle which can be powered both by electric and a conventional diesel/petrol. It can both be plugged in and fuelled conventionally. The vehicle is driven by either or both engines to generate maximum efficiency.
- Conventional hybrid – In a sense, the opposite of the range extended EV, these vehicles have a conventional petrol/diesel engine and supporting electric motor.
Electric vehicles are usually extremely quiet to drive and, thanks to producing no exhaust emission, do not contribute to local pollution levels. They cannot however be considered emission free, since generating electricity in the UK produces greenhouse gases which translate into CO2 emissions of on average 70g/km for fully electric cars.
Electric vehicle running costs are often lower than those of a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle. It costs from around £2.20 to fully charge an electric car overnight from a standard socket in your home.
Whilst the purchase price of an electric vehicle is generally higher than a petrol or diesel vehicle, you can also get a discount of up to £2,500 on the purchase price of brand new low-emission vehicles with the government's plug-in vehicle grant (GOV.UK).
Fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are also exempt from the London congestion charge and become particularly cost effective for higher mileage drivers where their daily distance travelled is within the vehicles range or where charging is available at work.
Charge times vary from model to model but there are three options for charging electric cars either in your home or at a public charging station.
- 'Slow' points use a standard 13 amp supply (8+ hours for full charge)
- 'Fast' points use single or three-phase 32 amps supply (4-6 hours)
- 'Rapid' points provide direct current supply (typically 80% charge in 40 minutes)
The range of modern electric vehicles has been increasing over recent years and the latest consumer models, such as the Renault Zoe, have a range of 250 miles on a full charge.
The number of public charge points is growing daily and your employer may also provide a charging point at work. There several public charging networks operating in the Surrey area. To find your nearest charging point, try one of these sites:
It is also possible to have a dedicated fast charge point installed in your home for which government grants for electric vehicle charging infrastructure (GOV.UK) are available for up to 75% of the installation costs.
Charging frequently asked questions
1. Are there any charge points in Surrey?
The County Council has been involved in the Energise Network (external) partnership which has installed five rapid electric vehicle chargers around the county in the following locations:
- Vines BMW in Guildford (you don't have to drive a BMW to access this)
- Hollyhedge Carpark in Cobham
- Frimley Park Hospital in Frimley x 2
- Reigate Hill car park (Just off the M25)
The County Council has installed a further three fast charge points on-street in Guildford on Dapdune Road, Poltimore Road and Walnut Tree Close. All these points can be accessed by joining the Charge Your Car (external) network.
We are now working to install 80 new charge points through our Electric Vehicle Charing Point Pilot scheme.
2. Can I get an electric vehicle charge point installed outside my house on the street?
Not at the moment. The County Council are currently investigating the feasibility of offering residents an on-street charging scheme, however there are a number of issues to be resolved. For more information please visit our electric vehicle on-street charging policy webpage.