Everything you need to know about electric cars and vans

10th March 2022
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In the second of our white paper series, we look at new electric cars and vans, how to work out their efficiency, drive further and pay for them too.

Electric cars and vans are not just the future. They are, in fact, very much the present. In 2021, sales of pure electric cars grew 76% compared to the year before. More than 300,000 new cars were sold which were either fully electric or plug-in hybrids.

This remarkable growth is in a market that has been severely hampered by a lack of availability too, which means that as the shortage of semi-conductors hitting production of all vehicles is solved, supply will rocket to meet demand.

No doubt employees will be asking you all sorts of questions about EVs, and so we’ve provided answers to some of the most common ones.

What EVs are coming this year?

These are some of our favourite new EVs, either out now or launching in 2022.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Hyundai’s striking Ioniq 5 looks like a futuristic family hatchback but is about the size of a small SUV. Longer range models can do nearly 300 miles.

Polestar 3

Polestar will launch its third model later this year, unsurprisingly called the 3. It will be the Swedish/Chinese firm’s first SUV and will compete against the VW ID.4.

Tesla Model Y

The new compact SUV offers all the benefits of the Model 3, but with more space. With a range of more than 300 miles and the backup of the Supercharger network, it’s a great choice for longer distance drivers.

Mercedes EQE

Out later in the year, the EQE is an electric alternative to the E-Class, with a range of more than 400 miles and all the luxury you would expect from Mercedes.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The C40, a coupe version of the XC40, is Volvo’s first EV only car. It’s sold only through Volvo’s website and has a range of 261 miles.

Ford E-Transit

At last, after years of testing, the Transit goes electric this year. Ford says it will have a class-leading range of 217 miles, plus a 2.3kW onboard power supply for tools.

Mercedes-Benz e-Citan

A small van that comes in two lengths and a crew cab, the electric Citan should be the ideal urban runabout.


What’s the difference between kWh and kW?

Understanding the difference between kWh and kW in electric vehicles is useful if your drivers want to understand the cost, or efficiency, of their EV.

kWh is the equivalent of fuel tank capacity: how much electricity your batteries can store.

kW is the motor’s output: the maximum power the vehicle can produce.

So, to understand a vehicle’s economy and its potential range, the kWh figure is the most important.


How do you work out EV economy?

Typically, there are two ways to measure EV economy and confusingly, they’re the same, but different.

KWh/100 miles

Some cars and vans measure energy usage in the amount of kWh of electricity used per 100 miles. A fairly efficient mid-size electric car will do 30 kWh/100 miles, while any figure lower than 30 is good.

To understand how this equates to range, a Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor has a battery size of 78 kWh, which means at 30 kWh/100 miles it should be able to travel 260 miles.

You can work it like this: 100 miles ⎟ 30 kWh x 78 kWh = 260 miles

It’s not the easiest way to understand range, especially when you’re trying to work out more complex numbers with decimal points. 

Miles per kWh

Much simpler is miles per kWh, which is how some models show it. The same Polestar presenting its energy consumption as 3.33 miles per kWh would also travel nearly 260 miles:

3.33 miles per kWh x 78 kWh = 260 miles

One thing to remember is the higher the number, the better, as opposed to kWh/100 miles where the opposite is the case (4 miles per kWh and 25 kWh per 100 miles are the same, for example).

The trick is to choose a metric and stick to it so you can compare all vehicles on your fleet. Because electricity is paid for by unit, we’d recommend miles per kWh.

How can you extend the range of EVs?

  • Pre-condition

Most EVs allow you to plug in to the charger in your house or work before driving off to heat or cool the cabin, saving energy to get everything to the right temperature on the move.

But pre-conditioning has another unseen benefit: in many vehicles it heats (or cools) the batteries to their optimum operating temperature, so they work more efficiently.

  • Use regeneration

When you lift off the accelerator, regeneration uses the electric motor as a generator to recharge the battery and act as the brake too.

  • Plan your route

Some navigation systems take into account the severity of hills and higher speed roads that could affect battery life. Work with these systems to plan your most economical route. It might not be the fastest, but it might avoid you having to stop to charge.

How do you pay for EVs?

There are three main options to pay for company cars and vans. How you decide to depends on many financial factors.

Outright purchase

If you decide to buy outright, because it’s an EV you can deduct 100% of the purchase cost in its first year from profits. But you will be exposed to fluctuation in the used markets come resale time.

Leasing

Leasing, usually through contract hire, spreads the cost over the term of the contract and shields you from residual value risk. You can deduct the deposit and monthly rental from profits and claim back half of the VAT. But you need to manage the car’s condition, as you don’t own it.

Salary Sacrifice

Due to the very low benefit-in-kind on EVs, salary sacrifice is an option as there are tax savings for both employee and employer. Savings are made because a single amount to cover leasing, insurance, maintenance is taken from an employee’s salary before income tax and NICs are deducted. But salary sacrifice schemes need to be set up and managed properly to satisfy HMRC.

Car allowance

You could just give an employee an extra car allowance to purchase their own EV. But in doing so you not only lose control of what they drive, but miss out on various tax deductions and savings too.

So now you have cars and vans sorted, what comes next?

Electric cars and vans are great, and every month exciting and innovative new models hit the market. For fleets, it’s a fascinating new world, full of opportunities to run vehicles in a cleaner and cheaper way.

In order to achieve this though, you need a charging infrastructure at home, work and on the road that supports your operation, and this is what we are looking at in our next blog.


Catch our previous blog which guides businesses through the fundamentals of getting started when transitioning to an electric fleet.

You can also download our white paper to learn more here.