Range concerns to maintenance costs: nine common questions on electric vehicles are answered

Electric vehicles are on the rise – more electric cars were registered in the UK in 2021 than in the previous five years combined, and in December they accounted for one in every four cars sold, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. If you’re yet to be convinced, here’s what you need to know before you join the EV club …

Can an electric car really be driven 380 miles on one charge?
Potentially, yes. The new BMW all-electric iX 50 M Sport, for instance, has a WLTP-tested range (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) of up to 380 miles*. This range could cover your weekly commute and leave enough charge for running around at the weekend.

The range of an electric vehicle depends on a number of factors, including: driving style, route and weather conditions and how much luggage you’re carrying.

So, as with regular cars, if you are driving shorter journeys and want the power it’s there. But if range is more your thing, you will have a large range – you just have to tailor your driving style. You are, in every sense, in the driving seat.

Do I need a home charger?
A study (pdf) found that 72% of UK drivers have access to off-street parking, meaning it could be easy for them to charge their cars at home. However, for those without driveways, charging can still be relatively simple. Venues as varied as supermarkets and gyms may have chargers, meaning you can top up your car as you shop or work out. Numbers of lamppost chargers are increasing all the time and some employers offer free charging at the workplace. What’s more, the latest generation of EVs charge faster, so you can charge on the go without having to stay stationary for too long.

BMW i4 EV
The My BMW app can guide you to a charging location

How do I find the chargers?
There are now more than 30,000 public charging points across the UK, in more than 19,000 locations. Many new electric cars come with a built-in satnav that tells you where to find the nearest charging point, while the BMW Connected Drive system and the My BMW app can help you identify public charging locations and will literally guide you there.

How much do electric cars cost?
Although the price tags of some electric cars tend to be higher than their petrol-powered equivalents on paper, the government offers grants of up to £1,500 for the purchase of electric cars priced under £32,000. Electric cars are also exempt from vehicle tax.

While prices for electricity are going up, so are petrol and diesel, and EV drivers with an annual mileage of 9,000 might enjoy significant savings, according to analysis by Which?. It found that charging an EV costs £500-£830 a year, if done mainly at home on a standard tariff, compared with the annual average fuel cost of £1,306-£1,916 for medium to large petrol or diesel cars. BMW has a fuel saving calculator that can estimate potential fuel savings.

Hand holds a black steering wheel. Car is illuminated by low, warm sun at dusk.
Electric cars are smoother and quieter than their internal combustion counterparts. Photograph: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

What is the driving experience like?
From acceleration to noise, driving electric cars is smoother and more elegant. In fact, BMW has worked with composer Hans Zimmer on the driving noise of its all-electric i4 and iX models.

You can deliver power instantly to the wheels in EVs, because they are free of the mechanical complexity of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Nowhere is this more thrilling than in the BMW i4 M50, which delivers powerful acceleration from a standstill.

How much maintenance do they need?
Electric vehicles need significantly less maintenance than their ICE equivalents for a very simple reason – they have fewer moving parts. There’s so much less that can go wrong. Also, the main parts of an EV, such as the battery and electronics, don’t need as much maintenance.

What happens if I break down in an EV?
Roadside assistance organisations such as the RAC have invested heavily in training and equipment for their patrols to support drivers of electric vehicles. Many of them carry mobile charging units, meaning they could get you back on the road quickly. All new BMWs purchased from a UK authorised BMW Centre come with roadside assistance cover for the first three years.

How sustainable are EVs really?
Sustainability is not just minimising emissions from driving, but the holistic philosophy behind the entire vehicle. For instance, the BMW iX is produced at facilities that use hydroelectric power. The cobalt and lithium used in EV batteries is procured by BMW, which ensures that environmental standards are maintained during extraction and processing. Materials used in the interiors include FSC certified wood in the centre console and olive-leaf tanned leather upholstery. Recycled aluminium and thermoplastics are also used intelligently where possible.

What is the lifespan of an electric car battery?
Although most manufacturers quote a five to eight-year warranty on their battery, with BMW offering the latter figure (or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first), the technology is improving at a rapid rate. All the more reason to say goodbye to your combustion engine and accelerate into the future.

Book your BMW iX test drive+ here. To test drive+ the BMW i4 click here

*These figures were obtained after the battery had been fully charged. The BMW i4 is a battery electric vehicle requiring mains electricity for charging. There is a new test for fuel consumption, CO2 and electric range figures. The electric range shown was achieved using the new test procedure. Figures shown are for comparability purposes. Only compare fuel consumption, CO2 and electric range figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results, which will depend upon a number of factors including the starting charge of the battery, accessories fitted (post- registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load.

+ Test drive subject to applicant status and availability.