How practical is electric as an only car?

I have a a weekend car and an everyday run around, both petrol. I’m selling both this year and plan to run a single car from then and wondering if now is the time to go electric, but am wondering how practical this is.

I could fit a home charger, there are two of us, but I’m the only driver. Most journeys are local, but we do like weekends away from time to time. We live in the UK.

For those who have done this, or looked into it, does it work for you?

Not ready myself as i have a nice lease deal til i fall off the perch, though EV will come to that deal.
We have a new retail park in Colchester that is packed out with parking……except for the 14 EV bays. So i looked them up £0.56p for a 22KW/hr charger and £0.72 for an ultrafast, which i think was 50KW/hr. Cheaper to fill my diesel and get a 650 mile range versus much less for the equivalent sum spent on electricity…….better at home.
Prices of EV cars need to drop, and will as the industry sorts out the supply chain. A friend has a £100K plus Tesla on order……i will be very surprised if Tesla can keep that margin?

Best of luck.


The other day I watched a review of three Japanese BEV’s. Amazed that Nissan produce a BEV with a cruising range of 640km, so long distance driving in the UK shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m sure it was mentioned a new type of battery technology was on the way, presumably giving more range.

Things can only get better.

Ultimately at the moment I think it depends on range. Friends took 4 stops to return from Scotland to Yorkshire last winter in their Audi E-tron.

Maximum range at the moment seems to be around 300 miles. And that halves when it’s cold. Do you travel further than that on a weekend away?

Personally I think hybrid is currently the best solution until range and charger network improves.


Nissan do a BEV with a range of 640km or 400 miles, in real money. :blush:

Is it still 400 in the winter?

When I was looking it was around 300. Clearly it’s creeping up but it’s probably a case of waiting for the next generation of batteries.

Our summer holidays generally involve a 600km drive across Europe in a day. And charge points seem sparse so I’m going to keep waiting until I take that step.

I see your point. 400 miles will probably be under optimal conditions.

Down hill. :grin:


Presumably the range of a hybrid will be less than a BEV due to the fact it is dragging around an engine and fuel.

Yes but it’s easier and quicker to find petrol than a charge point that works. Ultimate efficiency of hybrids clearly must be worse. But for me at the moment it’s the best solution.

90% of the time I drive it in fully electric mode with £20 of petrol in the tank for emergencies.


For local journeys likely almost any EV will do the job, subject to whatever are your criteria for reliability, carrying capacity, purchase cost, miles per unit, performance, etc.

For longer journeys, range, rechargeability including fast charge, and availability of suitable chargers across your conceivable range of routes/destinations become very significant and may severely limit choice depending on the range and journey time you desire. However is such journeys are only very few in a year, it may make a lot more sense to hire a car for each trip, and simply have a locally usable EV.

We have run an EV for the last two years and 23,000 miles. For our particular use case its fantastic. Into the office three times a week (50 miles round trip), taking the kids to sports clubs etc. No problems at all. Fast, quiet, comfortable, all good.

We charge the car overnight to about 80% on a cheap rate (was 5p/kw now 10p/kw). We have also done several trips from where we live in Hampshire up to Yorkshire and Lancashire to visit the old folks :). We have a Tesla so for these long trips it works out fine, I drive for about 3 hours, charge the car at a supercharger which takes the time it takes for me to go for a comfort break, get a coffee and order / eat a sandwich or snack to get back up to 80-90%. Then the car will be ready to go. In the summer we dont really need to charge to get to our destination, we charge so we have enough to get about the next day. In the winter, its touch and go as to whether we’d make it to our destination, however I stop anyway and charge, as I need a comfort break after 3 hours driving anyway. We probably wont be going back to ICE as we find it very convenient to run the EV (for our specific use).

I can see why others would not want to run an EV, particularly if its not a tesla. The public charging network isnt quite good enough yet. When we have needed to reply on the non-tesla network its been a bit more difficult to arrange. But we have managed. It will get better.

We only use the public charge networks when we need to, which is only when travelling a long distance. So for day to day use it’s a cheap form of transport.


A few current issues around running an EV in the UK:

  1. They are still expensive relative to petrol or diesel, although overall lifetime costs (maintenance, recharging, etc) are probably near parity now. Secondhand values are uncertain given the continual rapid improvements in technology (e.g. driving range), general downward trend of new prices and the expanding range of new models from many manufacturers.
  2. Public charging infrastructure is currently inadequate, although I understand Tesla is a notable exception. Clearly if most recharging is done at home, or perhaps work, then this will not present a problem.
  3. While battery technology and chemistry are evolving to increase the driving range, reduce charging times, improve recyclability and reduce costs, it is undeniable that low winter temperatures reduce the range considerably. Totally new battery technologies, like sodium-ion and solid state, which provide better performance are at advanced stages of development but I doubt they will become available in EVs for some years - perhaps someone on this forum is better informed than me on this topic?

Given these uncertainties and the rapidly evolving market, now is perhaps not the optimal time to buy in the UK. We currently run two petrol cars, with both of us driving and both vehicles used most days. However, I like cars, enjoy driving and tend to change them every 3-4 years, so am seriously considering a new EV later this year, regardless of all the reservations mentioned above. In the end it’s all down to individual preferences, needs and, of course, finances.

One final aside, I would note that most cars spend about 95% (possibly more) of their lives stationary. Clearly this is a serious waste of resources and cannot be sustained indefinitely. In the next decade or two there will be major changes in the way we travel with more car sharing, autonomous vehicles, etc. We cannot keep increasing the number of cars on the road, even if they are electric they will continue to cause traffic congestion!


A couple friends installed a car port (just a hooded frame to keep rain off) on their driveway to park the car under. Pretty normal here though you don’t see it much in the UK. They then got EVs and put a small bank of solar panels on just the car port for the charger.

Admittedly, their only use their car for school runs and shopping and the occasional night out. But in 2 years, neither of them paid a penny to power their EV.

My brother did the same with a barn conversion used as his garage. Has never once paid a penny to charge his car at home or (thanks to the large barn roof) power his large country house despite being in cloudy Belgium.

I think that a lot will depend on where you live. When Brighton, where I live, had many ‘Green’ councillors and even an MP (Caroline Lucas), an effort was made to install charging points, so we’re pretty well fixed. (There is an electric beast of a MacLaren car that parks in my street, and the house shakes when the git who owns it fires it up.) Conversely, the little Herts village, where my late father lived, has none.

I imagine that that will be the UK pattern more generally - that is, you’re probably all right if you live in a city, less so if you’re in a rural location.

Increasingly a moot point. combustion engine cars have dates after which they will be banned from sale in the UK, Japan, California and even China now.

1 Like

I should also point out that we lease our EV. It is considerably cheaper on our scheme through work to lease an EV than an ICE or hybrid car.

It can be argued that if comparing like for like on performance e.g. Tesla Performance vs sports car etc then the range is similar and the price for the EV is cheaper. Notwithstanding that the build quality on a tesla is much lower than other vehicles in that performance bracket.

A colleague here in Germany gets about half the km in winter and never gets near the claimed range.


Tesla is the only sensible option in the uk as an only car, due solely to the fantastic charging network. The long range model 3 will do 200 miles in winter and take 20-40 minutes to get back to 80%. I would not drive more than 200 miles without. Break anyway. I have had electric cars for 5 years now and before I got a Tesla range was a huge anxiety, no I don’t even think about it. Most charging is at work or home and I keep it topped up all the time.


Cold is a persistent problem to battery life in general. The collective “they” are gonna have to figure this out.

It fits into a larger puzzle where societies in extreme cold climates have all manner of reduced eco options. Less sun or way too much snow for solar panels. Coupled with increased requirements for heating energy, Reduced distance from EV batteries. Reduced storage from externally mounted home batteries. At times I feel like I have “cold climate tax” sitting on my shoulders.

That said, even if you live in Alaska (I don’t but my climate is similar) an EV can be practical if you have indoor parking away from the worst cold and your usage is based on localised daily activity within the same or nearby town. School and shopping runs. Maybe a short work commute etc. If that’s your lifestyle, then a 50% reduced range might be a non issue.

I don’t think there is a universal answer at all. The OP’s question is greatly going to depend on where they live and what their lifestyle is.


You make some good points @AndrewG .
To your point 3. regarding new chemistries coming along, they are still in development phase.
They will then need to be scaled ready for mass production, but they will also need the approvals from OEM’s (ie. the vehicle manufacturers) - minimum time to get through an approval process would likely be 4 years or even longer. The vehicle manufacturers are extremely risk adverse as the implications of warranty or safety issues can be massive.
We will likely see tweaks in lithium ion chemistry in the near to short term, but not wholesale changes to brand new chemistry for several years yet.

I currently have a Nissan Leaf on a lease (salary sacrifice at work) which is coming up for renewal August next year. Its been an absolute joy to drive.
I dont intend or want to go back to a fossil fuelled vehicle (hybrid or conventional ICE) but my worry bead is mainly the lack of public charging infrastructure (only an occasional problem on those longer journeys that need the public charging infrastructure) and high price of vehicles (I will be out of the scheme after next year).

1 Like