1. What is an electric car?

An electric car is an automobile that uses a battery-powered electric motor to drive the vehicle. Essentially the electric motor replaces the petrol or diesel engine as the means of moving the car. 

2. Are there different type of electric vehicles?

Yes. There are three main type of electric vehicles:

  • Pure-electric vehicles – uses energy stored in rechargeable battery packs to drive the vehicle.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – combines internal combustion engine or other propulsion source that can be run on conventional or alternative fuel with an electric motor that uses energy stored in the battery.
  • Extended-range electric vehicles – uses an internal combustion engine to power an electric generator that charges the battery system in a linear process – the engine powers a generator, which in turn charges the battery.

3. Why should I buy an electric car?

Electric vehicles are revolutionising the way people think about cars. With no tail-pipe CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from pure EV's, the electric car is a step towards a more sustainable future. Pure electric vehicles use no petrol and no diesel and are 80 per cent cheaper to run than cars with internal combustion engines. With fuel prices being a cause of concern to many, the switch to electric vehicles is becoming more appealing.

4. How much do electric cars cost to buy?

Electric vehicles currently available in Northern Ireland starting at £13,000 depending on the model, after the £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant is applied. There are many attractive leasing deals available on the electric vehicle market.

5. What vehicles are currently available to buy in Northern Ireland?

Vehicles that are already on the market include:


6. How do I insure an electric car?

When you insure an electric car the process is no different from when you insure a petrol or diesel car.

7. Are electric vehicles limited to size and features?

No. Electric vehicles have all standard features of any modern cars.

8. Are electric vehicles safe?

Yes. Electric vehicles must meet the same safety standards as other cars.

9. Are electric cars dependable?

Yes. They are just as dependable as petrol or diesel cars. In fact, electric motors have fewer moving parts and therefore fewer points of failure than conventionally powered engines.

10. How much does it cost to run an electric car?

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has calculated that depending on when and how an electric vehicle is charged it will cost 2-4p per mile. This compares to 10-14p per mile for an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle. Therefore on average the fuel costs based on an annual mileage of 10,000 would be:

  • petrol/diesel - £1,200 (based on 12p per mile
  • electric vehicle - £300 (based on 3p per mile)

11. How far can an electric vehicle go on a full battery charge?

The majority of electric vehicles available today have a range of 60-100 miles per charge, with electric commercial vehicles ranging up to 150 miles per charge. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have a range of up to 300-400 miles depending on the make and model.

12. How fast can electric vehicle go?

Electric cars are capable of conventional car speed, acceleration and power.

13. What type of battery does it use?

Modern electric vehicles use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are better for the environment than other type of batteries because they are made from safe and easily recyclable materials.

14. Where can I charge an electric car?

You can charge your electric vehicle at home, at work or in public as long as you have access to a charge point. Please see the charge point map for detailed charge point locations across Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.

15. How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

Charging time depends on your vehicle and the type of charge point you use. Usually it takes between 1 hour and 8 hours to fully charge an electric car at a 22kW charge point, e.g 1 hour for a Renault Zoe, 4 hours for a Nissan Leaf and 8 hours for older EV models. Rapid charge points will charge vehicles which have the rapid charge capability up to 80% in 20-25 minutes. Home charging units take between 4-8 hours to charge depending on whether it is a 3kW or a 7kW charge point.

16. What is the cost per charge?

It costs around £3-£4 to fully charge an electric vehicle at home depending on the electricity tariff and vehicle battery size. Public charge points currently provide free electricity across Northern Ireland (June 2015), however it is anticipated that charging fees will be introduced in 2016.

17. Can electric vehicles be charged using regular household socket?

Yes, but it is recommended that a specific home charging point with its own circuit is installed in the home. Official OLEV (the Office of Low Emission Vehicles) accredited home charge points should be installed, which have 75% grant funding available in Northern Ireland. These are generally arranged by the car dealers across NI at the point of purchase or lease of an EV.

18. Is my home suitable for a charge point installation?

To charge your vehicle at home you will need a safe off-street parking such as driveway, garage or carport. Cables for electric vehicles are usually not very long, so make sure that the parking space is near a suitable plug socket (using an extension lead is not recommended, as it is possible it may overheat).

19. Do I need a permit to install a car charging point at home?

No. If you have a driveway or garage or space to park your vehicle, charge points can be installed within your own private property.

20. What if I don’t own my home?

If your home is rented, then you will need to provide a letter of permission from your landlord before a charge point installation can be carried out.

21. Who do I contact to get a home charging point installed?

The OLEV domestic grant provides a list of accredited domestic charge point suppliers and installers in Northern Ireland. The majority of electric vehicle dealers have arrangements in place with suppliers who will install charge points and claim the domestic grant from OLEV at the point of purchase or lease. Please speak to your dealer for more information.

22. What are the benefits of using electric vehicles for businesses?

Electric vehicles offer a range of benefits for businesses (updated July 2015):

  • Running costs of electric vehicles are some 80% less than a petrol or diesel equivalents.
  • Electric vehicles are exempt from paying Fuel duty, Vehicle excise duty, Company car tax, Van benefit charge and Fuel benefit charge.
  • Electric vehicles have enhanced capital allowances benefits with a 100 per cent first-year allowance. Businesses can relieve entire cost of an electric car or van against taxable profits in the year of acquisition.
  • The Office for Low Emissions offers a 25% grant for the purchase of an electric car - up to £5,000, and a 20% grant for the purchase of an electric van – up to £8,000.

23. What is the lifespan of a battery?

Electric vehicle manufacturers give their batteries a 5-7 year warranty, depending on the make and model.

24. What happens to the old battery once it’s been replaced?

Used electric car batteries can be recycled and reprocessed into new ones in a process called “cradle to cradle” recycling, which will reduce the demand for raw materials and the fuel to produce a new product. Alternatively, old batteries can be used to store back up power, or store electricity generated by renewable sources.

25. What are the benefits of driving an electric car?

Driving an electric car has a range of benefits:

  • Savings – electric cars are cheaper to run compared to petrol cars;
  • Noise – pleasant driving experience, reduces noise pollution;
  • Dedicated parking spaces;
  • Reliable and easy to maintain;
  • Reduction of air pollution;
  • 100% emission free;
  • Reduces dependency on oil;
  • Environment friendly.

26. Do EVs result in less pollution?

Electric cars have no tail pipe emissions therefore pollution depends on what electricity generating source is used to charge the battery. Multiple studies have shown that electric vehicles reduce total pollution compared with petrol cars, even when batteries are charged with electricity from coal plants. Electric vehicles charged using renewable energy sources will result in no pollution.

27. How electric vehicles will benefit Northern Ireland?

Car dependency and transport emissions are higher in Northern Ireland than in any other part of the UK, due to the dispersed nature of the population and current low level of public transport provision. Currently 82.7 per cent of the population drives to work in NI, in comparison to 69.9 per cent in the rest of the UK. However average journey distance is low, making electric cars well suited for use in Northern Ireland.

Electric vehicles are an emerging but very fast moving industry and Northern Ireland already has a world class infrastructure network. This helps to show Northern Ireland as a dynamic, forward-thinking region that is tackling issues such as sustainable transport, climate change and the green economy.

28. How do electric vehicles help the UK meet climate protection goals?

In 2008 the UK passed the Climate Change Act that aims to improve carbon management and help the transition towards a low carbon economy. The legislation set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and at least 34% by 2020.

Road transport is responsible for over 22 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions and cars produce the vast majority of these.

The use of alternative fuels, like electricity, can help reduce these emissions, and in the case of electricity, help improve local air quality. As Northern Ireland’s electricity generating sector moves to low carbon energy sources this will help electric vehicles be more environmentally friendly from power source to the road.