How to save money & reduce your carbon footprint by going on holiday in an electric vehicle
My wife Heidi and I try and live our life as eco-friendly as possible: from reducing our plastic consumption, embracing a zero waste lifestyle to drastically reducing our carbon footprint by switching our diesel car to an electric vehicle (EV) . A few years ago we scrapped our Audi A3 diesel car and replaced it with an eGolf. This was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It’s tax free, costs next to nothing to run and gives us peace of mind that we’re not polluting the planet every time we do a supermarket run or go on holiday. I also recently joined the e-mobility company CrowdCharge and now drive a company BMW i3.
As you know, diesel and petrol cars are huge polluters. I think people just accept them because that’s what they’re used to. But the reality is that if you invented the internal combustion engine in 2020 it would probably be banned immediately on health grounds. This is due to the toxic exhaust products it emits and the huge CO2 impact. In fact, research from Professor Mike Berners-Lee’s book ‘There is no Planet B’ estimates if you added up the life expectancy impact from cars in a congested urban area; for every mile driven by a 1 tonne diesel car, 12 minutes of human life are lost. This reduces to 3.5 minutes for a petrol car and 0.5 minutes for an EV – since the National Grid’s electricity isn’t 100% renewable yet. These figures are an important reminder for just how polluting diesel and petrol cars are.
Every year we go on holiday in the UK and drive to our holiday destination in an eGolf. While there is a small cost for charging the car, typically £3 to £4 per 100 miles of charge, compared to filling up with petrol or diesel, the savings are over 80%. Some of my friends have EVs but the ones that don’t often ask: ‘What happens if you run out of charge in the middle of nowhere?’ or ‘Do they have charging points in Cornwall?’ To dispel these myths and tell you how to save money and reduce your carbon footprint by going on holiday in an EV, I’ve put together the below guidance.
Charge your car before you leave
We charge our EVs overnight, so they’re fully charged in the morning. This ensures we always start our holiday with a fully charged battery. At home we have a standard 7kW charger which is easy to install. You can install one of these for an average of £450, providing you can run an armoured cable from your driveway to your consumer unit. It also means that if the car battery is nearly empty it will charge in less than six hours. I tend to plan my charging overnight because my electricity is cheapest then as I’m on Green Energy’s Tide tariff. It’s also better for the National Grid balancing and means I’m more likely to be using greener, more renewably generated energy. When we first got an EV, I always wondered what would happen if there was a power cut. Well I’ve not had one at home in 2.5 years of owning an EV, but worst case scenario, there’s a rapid charger down the road where I can plug in and charge up to 80% in approximately 35 minutes.
Plan your route
The key to planning your route is knowing where all the charging points are. Most people worry there aren’t enough places to charge in the UK. But in fact we now have twice as many EV charging points as petrol stations. To locate them, download the Zap Map app or look on Google Maps. You can then plan your breaks to time with charging. But make sure you know your car’s range so you can easily reach your chosen charging point. You will also need to drive more sensibly rather than hammer it down the motorway as this tends to use up more charge. Being an engineer, I like to be prepared so I would also recommend identifying a backup charging point for every stop you plan. This is just in case the first charging point or series of charging points if you’re at a service station, are taken or out of order.
Take your lunch or coffee break while your car charges
It normally takes about 35 minutes to charge my EV back up to 80% on a rapid public charger. So I often time it over a lunch or coffee break at a service station or combine it with some holiday shopping at a supermarket. If you have a family, then use the time for food / toilet breaks on a long journey. You might also wonder what happens if you’re running late and don’t have time to wait for 35 minutes to charge? Well knowing that you need to stop for this time, makes you leave earlier and plan your route better. Most of us spend our lives rushing around from A to B, so I enjoy taking time out on a long journey to take a break and charge the car.
Save money by not having to pay for fuel
One thing that EV drivers benefit from is not having to pay for fuel. On a longer trip like our recent journey down to Cornwall we clocked up approximately 800 miles which cost around £18 to charge. I estimated that in my old diesel car the equivalent mileage would have cost me at least £90. For six days of our week’s holiday we didn’t even need to visit a public charger as we were charging overnight at our accommodation. Many people think that EVs are very expensive, the reality is they can be more affordable than petrol cars by saving on tax and fuel costs.
Stay in EV friendly hotels/choose powered camping pitches
Nowadays a lot of hotels have chargers in their car park so you can plug in on arrival and charge while you sleep. We tend to enjoy staying in rural campsites and love camping pods which are often equipped with power. If you purchase a Triple Mains Kit to convert the camping post power supply into standard 3-pin sockets then you can use the standard 3-pin charging cable that comes with your car to charge overnight at no extra cost. It will however be a slower charge than your home charger but will still give you enough charge overnight to power your car for a local day trip on holiday. We tend to do 25-30 miles a day max when we’re on holiday, so the 3-pin socket provides us with ample charge.
The future is EVs
Overall, EVs play an important role in our transition to a cleaner, greener world. While it might mean some small changes in your daily habits and holiday planning, like fitting a charging point at home, being slightly more organised on road trips and holidays, this is just a change of mindset. And if you consider the cost savings and drastic reduction to your carbon footprint, we should all start considering switching to EVs. If you’re still unsure, I recommend booking at test drive and giving them a go. You won’t regret it.
If you’d like to test drive an EV, contact DriveElectric who are experts in electric vehicles and leasing.
Luke Smith is Head of Engineering at e-mobility company CrowdCharge. CrowdCharge is developing a digital platform to manage multiple electric vehicle chargers to provide EV owners with cheaper and greener electricity, while at the same time reducing the impact from EV charging on the electricity grid – in the UK and globally.