10 things to know before buying an electric car


If you’re not yet familiar with electric mobility, ask yourself a few essential questions before getting a trendy car.

1. Your needs determine which electric vehicle model to purchase

Compare the offers of the manufacturers, try as many different models as possible, ask yourself about your real needs in autonomy and about the use you want to make of your electric vehicle (small or long journeys; city, road, and/or highway, etc.).

2. Some electric vehicle models have weaknesses

Depending on your needs, the known weaknesses on each electric car model can be blocking or irrelevant in your usage project. We still need to know these negative points. The ideal would be to read it after the test of a vehicle, by cross-referencing the information collected on the Net, via user forums.

Sensitivity to strong side wind for Citroën C-ZiMiOn (Citroën C-Zero, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Peugeot iOn), decrease in fast charging power during long trips with the Nissan Leaf 2, Obligation to maintain the temperature of the Bollore Bluecar and Citroën E-Mehari batteries at approximately 60°C, etc.

3. Announced autonomy is not real autonomy

For years, the autonomy legally announced by manufacturers is based on the far too optimistic NEDC cycle. To obtain the range of action that you can expect under the correct conditions of use (mild temperature, excluding storms and significant differences in altitude, etc.), subtract about 20% of the figures officially communicated for each model.

The NECD (New European Driving Cycle) standard will gradually give way to the more realistic WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) standard.

4. Eco-driving and autonomy

For maximum autonomy, practice and develop your eco-driving skills. Anticipation, regularity of pace, recovery of energy at deceleration and braking when available, choice of the route for the least energy-intensive, driving in the shelter of a truck, over-inflation of tires of 0,1 to 0.3 bars, window slightly or moderately open to avoid the parachute effect, etc. are habits that pay for the radius of action, especially if they are accumulated.

5. Autonomy severely reduced in winter

The addition of consumers in service in winter (heating, outdoor lighting, etc.), but also a certain laziness of lithium technology to operate under low temperatures, can reduce the range of an electric car by 30, 40, 50% and even more.

Time spent in traffic is an aggravating factor. A heat pump, or even a (supplementary) thermal device in place of a resistance for heating, minimizes the phenomenon. Additional efforts of eco-driving can partially alleviate the problem.

6. Polymer lithium-ion batteries are the best option for cold

According to regular users of electric cars equipped with specially well-protected polymer lithium-ion packs (Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Ioniq, etc.), this technology is less sensitive to winter cold, resulting in a lower loss of autonomy.

7. Electric Vehicle Range Gradually Increases

Many manufacturers of electric passenger cars are exploiting technological advances on lithium-ion cells to increase the battery capacity. This is the case, for example, for the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 Evalia, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV, Tesla Model S, etc.

So users of a city car in the Losange now have a radius of action of more than 300 kilometers after having to settle for about 160 km. Journeys that seemed difficult or risky with a 2016 EV, become possible with 2018 models and will be realized without worry in 2020.

8. A range extender to have only one vehicle at home

Only the BMW i3 can now receive (as an option) this useful equipment. It is a small gasoline engine capable of recharging the traction battery when it is almost empty.

It allows to carry out distances much longer than usual, the vehicle being always animated by the electric motor. Called rex (range extender), this device has already decided many drivers to choose this electric car.

9. Maximum terminal power and effective charging power

Dealers are not always very clear with customers when it comes to charging in the public space. Sometimes they suggest that an electric car equipped for the 50 kW fast terminal can also operate an accelerated terminal at its maximum, that is to say at 22 kW of power.

It’s a mistake to think so, because it all depends on the charger or chargers on board. In addition to this possibility, many EVs designed for fast charging will have to settle for slow charging on E/F type outlets (possibly reinforced). Others, with an additional 7 kW charger, will be able to operate the accelerated terminals, but not more than about 6.6 kW.

10. Impact on the environment

The impact on the environment of an electric vehicle is conditioned by the supply chain of raw materials, the manufacture of the vehicle elements, the electric source for charging, the use of the vehicle, its recycling at the end of its life. Cobalt, which is used in batteries, is a potential black spot because of the inhumane work that children sometimes do to extract it.

Under pressure from NGOs, EV builders have made convincing commitments for a more acceptable supply. BMW has shown how to make an electric car using recycled and recyclable materials, renewable sources of energy, and much less water. By practicing eco-driving, we manage to limit the proportion of abrasion particles (tires, flooring, brakes) that is not negligible. Traction batteries can have a second life for storing electricity. Their final recycling takes place as lithium-ion packs reach the end of their life. Signals are coming from everywhere to show what can be done and what is concretely being put in place to make the EV more virtuous throughout its life cycle.


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  1. I would consider owning an EV but this type of vehicle is totally reliant and controlled by software. The charging process is totally under software control and if there is glitch which I have seen reported where EV cars have not charged overnight the user is unable to go to work until the car is charged. I’m sticking with petrol/electric hybrids.

  2. I have s roof full of solar panels. It makes a lot of sense to charge an EV by day, and slow charging is better for the health of the battery pack. My main use of an EV is for local shopping and entertainment venues. I don’t need to travel for hundreds of kilometres at all.

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