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Nationwide Vehicle Contracts list 15 electric car questions you wanted to know but are afraid to ask

If you're thinking of going green and leasing an electric car, chances are you'll have lots of questions.

Aside from the typical questions regarding delivery lead times, mileage and payments, many customers also have several 'what if' or 'can you' questions at the back of their minds. But, unfortunately, they often feel too embarrassed to ask.

Here at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, we've compiled a list of 15 questions you wanted to ask about electric car leasing but were afraid to ask.

1) Are electric cars safe?

Yes, all-electric cars are built to meet the same strict design and manufacturing regulations as any conventional petrol and diesel vehicles. They go through the same rigorous process to ensure the cars are as safe as possible. Manufacturers then subject all their vehicles - including their EV offerings - to a Euro NCAP assessment with practically all electric vehicles performing as well as similarly-sized and equipped internal combustion models.

Solid structures, extensive crumple zones and multiple airbags ensure that passengers are as well protected as possible in the event of an accident. Plus, with electric vehicles having large, heavy battery packs and the need to absorb the increased energy they create in a collision, EV designers arguably have to work even harder to attain outstanding crashworthiness.

2) Can I charge my mobile phone?

Yes, you can charge your mobile phone inside an electric vehicle by plugging your phone into the car's USB port. However, if you are concerned that it will drain electricity from your vehicle's battery, most electric cars have an eco-mode driver setting that increases the efficiency of your EV. It does this by limiting the amount of power you have for electronic systems mode and will limit some functions, meaning your phone might not charge as quickly.

Nevertheless, you won't be draining the vehicle's battery anytime soon from charging your mobile phone.

3) Will air con ruin my battery life?

Turning on your air con on full blast can reduce the range of your electric vehicle by 17%, meaning if drivers are planning a 100-mile trip, they could only travel 83 miles. However, most electric cars have a feature called preconditioning, which allows you to pre-cool your vehicle's cabin before a long journey.

This feature works best when your car is plugged in overnight, as instead of taking energy from your electric vehicle battery, it will be taken from the mains, so your battery life won't be affected. This means, on hot summer days, you won't need to have your air conditioning on full blast, which drains your battery faster.

4) Can you drive through standing water?

Just like a conventional petrol or diesel car, when it comes to driving through flood water, you should always find an alternative route. 

The Environment Agency warns that just 300mm of flowing water is enough to float your vehicle. In an electric car, this means that the circuit breakers can trip if a car is submerged in water and water gets into the electrical system. As such, the car's flow of power from the batteries to the motor is interrupted, and you may be left stranded.

However, some electric cars will perform better than conventional vehicles when wading through water, with Jaguar's I-Pace built to a wading depth of 500mm. BMW's fully-electric i3 also states that drivers can go through calm water only if it's no deeper than 35cm or 9.8 inches. Not having an air intake means the propulsion system is not affected when immersed in water like an engine. Nevertheless, it's never a good idea to risk driving through water on the road.

5) Can an electric car cause electric shock?

Most electric cars operate at voltages between 12 and 48 volts which can be dangerous but is unlikely to give a fatal shock. Of course, any piece of electrical equipment is potentially hazardous, but a shock you're likely to get is static electricity from touching it in dry weather, the same as a regular car.

As for the electrical energy stored in the battery, the high voltage cables are thickly insulated and well-protected in the event of an accident. Therefore, as long as safety regulations are adhered to, there should be no danger of an electric shock.

6) Are you allowed to take an electric car through a car wash?

Electric vehicles are perfectly safe to take to a car wash. Just like regular petrol or diesel vehicles, electric cars have to go through a 'soak test'. This is where vehicles are tested and subjected to near-flood water levels to check for possible leaks, which is carried out to ensure the car is safe.

7) How safe are electric car batteries?

One common area of concern is that electric car batteries run on lithium-ion batteries, which are flammable in the wrong conditions. If the power cells are damaged and short-circuiting occurs, there's potential for combustion. This is known as thermal runaway. While this sounds scary, it's extremely unlikely, with the latest generation of EVs engineered to avoid this situation. Polestar, for example, has even created two deformable aluminium structures on either side of the front bulkhead of its Polestar 2 models.

8) Are electric car charging points free to use?

There are thousands of free electric car charge points in the UK, which tend to be located in shopping centres, supermarkets, public car parks, hotels, and sometimes service stations. However, it's essential to keep in mind there could be restrictions such as a set time or requiring a purchase in-store, so it's best to check.

The easiest way to find your nearest free electric vehicle charging point is to download an EV charge point map, such as Zap-Map, to see what EV charging points are local near you.

9) What if I don't have a driveway?

If you're considering charging your electric car at home but don't have a driveway, you can contact your local residential authority to find out if there are plans to install on-street charging points. 

The on-street residential charging scheme is a Government grant for installing public access charging points made available to local authorities. They work by installing charging points into lamp posts, fixed pillars to the kerb and even folding charging points that retract into the pavement.

You can find out more about the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme here.

10) Are electric cars automatic?

Nearly all electric vehicles are automatic since an electric motor doesn't need gears. This means there's no clutch and no way of stalling, unlike a standard manual car.

11) How long do electric car batteries last?

Depending on the manufacturer, electric car batteries typically last for up to eight years or 100,000 miles of use. However, battery degradation happens over time, this reduces the amount of energy a battery can store. To prolong your vehicle's battery as long as possible, they need regular maintenance, and to be charged correctly.

12) Are electric cars really green?

Electric cars are very much greener than traditional petrol or diesel cars as they help reduce air pollution considerably and significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Fully electric vehicles (EVs) don't have an exhaust system, producing any carbon dioxide and zero tailpipe emissions when driving. As a result, they don't release toxic smoke or gases in the environment like a regular petrol or diesel car and improve air quality in towns and cities.

Check out our benefits of an electric car guide to learn more about an electric car's environmental benefits.

13) Will electric car costs come down?

Most electric vehicles currently cost more than traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. However, if you are looking for an electric car, you can take advantage of the UK's Government plug-in car grant with a discount of up to £2,500 which will keep the costs down.

As for the cost of charging an electric vehicle, the price can vary between home, work, and public, just like fuel costs vary between filling stations. But, typically, an electric car is cheaper to run per mile than a traditional car as electricity is lower-priced than petrol or diesel fuels.

Plus, an electric vehicle has fewer moving parts than a petrol or diesel car, making the overall running costs cheaper.

14) What happens if I run out of charge?

Just like a petrol car or diesel vehicle, an electric vehicle will tell you how many miles you have left before you run out of charge. If you do happen to run out of charge entirely, the car will stop as soon as it runs out of miles, just like a combustion engine car.

Most electric vehicle navigation systems also inform the driver of the closest charging stations nearby they can go to charge up. For example, the Nissan Leaf will enter turtle mode when the battery charge reaches 0%. This is where all power is rerouted to permit several miles of driving distance at minimal speed, meaning you can pull over safely if your battery is about to run out of charge.

If the electric vehicle has run out of charge and you cannot connect your charging cable, the best option is to call your breakdown provider for roadside assistance. Most providers have vehicles equipped to facilitate as much as ten minutes of fast charging, which should get you to a charging station. However, if not, the assistance vehicle should be able to tow or carry your vehicle on a flatbed to a charging point. 

15) Are all electric car charging connectors the same?

When charging an electric vehicle, many different connectors are used to plug your vehicle into a charge point. Unfortunately, not all electric cars have the same types of charging connectors. Most electric cars have either a Type 1 or Type 2 connector for slow/fast charging and CHAdeMO or CCS for DC rapid charging, except Tesla Model X and Model S vehicles that use Type 2 connectors for DC rapids.

Check out our handy electric car charging points guide to read more about the different types of EV charge points available.

There has been no better time to go green and lease an electric vehicle. Check out our latest electric car leasing offers or call one of our leasing consultants on 0345 811 9595 for specialist advice.