EV ownership tips: from charging point etiquette to claiming back costs

Electric car ownership is rising rapidly in the UK. Registration figures show a 184 per cent rise in new EVs in September 2020 compared with September 2019 and their market share has quadrupled in the past 12 months. They may still only account for 5.4 per cent of all new cars but there are clear signs that more and more motorists are making the switch to an EV. 

While some elements, such as insurance and the act of driving, are largely the same as any other car there are some areas where EV ownership is quite different, such as the various ways to charge and the rights and wrongs of using public charging points.

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To help drivers who have just made the move to an EV or are considering on, we spoke to Chris Black, commercial director at LeasePlan UK, for some advice on getting the most out of EV ownership.

Consider others when charging in public

  • Look after public charging points - Treat public charging infrastructure with just as much care and respect as you would your own charging solutions at home. That will keep it in optimal working order to provide fast and flawless charging for everyone. When you’re finished charging, put the connector back in its receptacle and hang the cable as neatly as possible on its hooks to avoid a tripping hazard.
  • Don’t use EV charging points as a parking spot - An EV charging point is for charging, not parking – so don’t treat it as a personal all-day parking spot. Many of them are positioned at premium locations at public destinations, but if you don’t plan to charge your vehicle make sure you leave the spots open for those who do.
  • Don’t hog the charger - Likewise, don’t hog the charger for longer than necessary when you’re charging your vehicle. Think about how much you need to get to your next destination – if it doesn’t require 100 per cent it would be courteous to vacate the spot for someone else to use. Most EVs come with mobile apps that allow you to monitor your charge level, so make sure you keep an eye on this throughout your stay.
  • Never unplug another vehicle - When using public charging points, it’s crucial to take other people’s needs into consideration. Never unplug another driver’s EV, no matter how long you think they’ve been there. This rule also extends to plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) - just because they have a backup combustion engine, doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to charge. The only exception to unplugging another vehicle is when the driver has left a note to say it’s fine to do so.

Explore the whole range of available charging options

An EV is similar to the average car: it’s inactive for around 20 hours every day. Utilise the vehicle’s downtime and charge it whenever and wherever you can access power – whether at a fast-charging point or public charging point while you’re out shopping or at the gym, while you work or via a wall-mounted unit outside your home overnight.

Here's a breakdown of the four main types of charging options available and how quickly they can charge your EV:

Type of charger Power Output Speed (vehicle dependant) Locations
Ultra-Rapid DC 100kW + Up to 100 miles in 10 minutes Selected forecourt services
Rapid DC 50kW Up to 33 miles in 10 minutes Motorway services
Fast 7kW Up to 5 miles in 10 minutes Home, workplace & destination
Slow Up to 3kW Up to 2 miles in 10 minutes Home, workplace & destination

Look after your battery

To maximise the battery capacity and minimise the impact on driving range, avoid leaving your EV with a low battery level for a long period of time. You should also avoid charging your battery to 100 per cent each time as this can put a lot of pressure on it.

Excessively hot or cold temperatures can also degrade your vehicle’s battery over time. If possible, park in an enclosed or sheltered location. This could mean in a shaded space on a hot summer’s day, or in a garage or carport if you’re charging at home.

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Plan ahead

If you’re embarking on a longer journey, plan your route in advance and make use of online or onboard mapping services, apps and other tools to identify which public charging points you can use along the way. There are more than you may realise: in September 2020, there were 19,552 devices across 12,344 locations offering 34,084 connections, with more being added every month with many sites free to use.

If you are going to use a variety of different charger networks make sure you’re registered with them before setting off to save time and frustration once you reach a charger.

Claiming back the electricity cost of charging

If you use an EV for work, you may want to claim back the charging cost for the miles you do from your employer. In theory, it’s possible to claim the price of the electricity, but in practice it’s very complex to track and report.

As a result, many employers prefer to use the official HMRC Advisory Electricity Rate (AER) rate, which is currently set at 4p per mile.

Please note, though, that these rates apply to fully electric cars. Plug-in hybrids use the standard business mileage rates for petrol or diesel, depending on their engine.