The Pros and Cons of Electric Cars

Are there any health and safety implications?

Posted on: 22/03/2016   By: Lee Rance

We were recently asked by a client if there was anything they need to consider when charging electric vehicles (EVs) at work. It’s not something we had come across before, so the subject required some research.

Once I started delving into the subject I was quite surprised. I had always considered electric cars as a bit of a novelty but the technology has moved on quite a bit and these vehicles are now a genuine alternative for petrol and diesel vehicles.

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Like anything in life there are good and bad points to consider. The negatives with EVs can include:

  • These vehicles generally cost more to buy than their petrol/diesel alternatives.
  • They don’t goes as far before they require charging (80-100 miles) compared to distances travelled on a full tank on petrol/diesel alternatives, so not really great for long journeys.
  • Charging points are still quite limited compared to petrol stations so if you are travelling long distances then the journey will need to be planned in advance. There are maps detailing the locations of charging points.
  • These vehicles are very quiet. Pedestrians, especially visually impaired, are less likely to hear EVs coming which could lead to an increase risk of accidents.

The positives can include:

  • These vehicles are extremely quiet and smooth. (This could also be considered a negative)
  • Environmentally friendly. Zero emissions for EVs. There is the argument that electricity is generated from power-stations which generate their own pollutants, but even with that taken into account, EVs are still considered to have a much smaller environmental impact than their petrol/diesel alternatives. If EVs are being charged from renewal sources of energy such as hydro, wind and solar then they become completely clean with no negative effect on the environment.
  • Running costs are a lot cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles.
  • Government grants are available for EVs which provides 35 percent towards the purchase price, up to a maximum of £4,500 depending on the model.
  • EVs are exempt from Congestion Charge.
  • EVs are exempt from paying car tax (VED) due to producing zero emissions.
  • EVs can be charged from home.
  • There are less moving parts so less to go wrong.

There are a lot of positives to take into consideration but these vehicles still aren’t going to be for everyone mainly because of the limitations on range travelled between each charge. If you only use your vehicle for short journeys around town then they are definitely worth considering. I believe when the range increases between charging and the price of the vehicles fall then there will be a lot more people changing over from internal combustion to electric.

Going back to the health and safety considerations when charging EVs at work, there are a few points that need to be considered:

  • If charging is done via plugging directly into a regular socket, it is recommended having a survey done by a qualified electrician to ensure the wiring is good enough to handle the high electrical draw. The wiring should be upgraded if necessary and ask for a separate electricity circuit for the charging socket. Alternatively install a dedicated charging point.
  • Secondly, ensure the socket is as near to where you wish to charge the car as possible as the charging cables are often not very long and extension cables must never be used.
  • When charging vehicles, avoid trailing cables crossing pedestrian routes or use cable guards to cover cables where required.
  • Include the EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) in the company’s portable appliance testing schedule.

Looking into this subject has certainly changed my views on electric vehicles and I would definitely consider converting to electric once the technology allows longer distances to be travelled. The way things are going I don’t think it will be long.

Until next time.

Lee Rance