Owning an electric car: What you need to know

Owning an electric car: What you need to know


There are plenty of reasons to make your next car an electric one. Aside from the environmental argument (even when powered by coal according to a study by Bloomberg NEF), there are many incentives to go green.

Any car that has CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any emissions at all qualifies for the government’s plug-in grant. For cars that means 35% of their purchase price up to £3,500. This includes everything from a little Renault Zoe to a Tesla Model S. Visit gov.uk/plug-in-car-van-grants for more information on this as well as to see incentives for other types of vehicles including vans and motorbikes.

Drivers of electric cars can drive anywhere in London without paying the congestion charge or having to worry about the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ). They also don’t pay the annual road tax.

Then you’ve got maintenance. Because electric cars have no engine or gearbox (at least in the traditional sense) they don’t come with headaches that an internal combustion engine brings. Even though they have conventional brakes, they can last longer thanks to regenerative braking where kinetic energy is recaptured and fed back into the battery and the car slows down. That really only leaves tyres and lighting. One thing to keep in mind however is battery life. Charging and recharging causes it to degrade over time. But the technology is improving and every day new cars are being released which hope to solve most of the issues with battery powered cars.

One of the main barriers for a lot of people as far as buying an electric car is how and where to charge it. There are many different options available throughout London.

‘Source London’ is a London-wide scheme for electric vehicle drivers. All of its charging points are in dedicated EV bays and only EVs that are charging may park there. Thirteen of these charging points are 22kw and the rest are 7kw. The larger the number, the quicker the charge. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual or the manufacturers website for more information on charging times as these are not the same for every vehicle.


There are three different tariffs for ‘Source London’:

Full membership: £4 per month fee and charged at 13.3p per minute on 22kw and 5p per minute on 7kw. Residents that are full members benefit from a cap on overnight charging; between 8pm and 7am the fee is capped at four hours so you can get 11 hours of charge for the price of four.

Flexi membership: £10 one off fee and charged at 13.3p per minute on 22kw and 7.3p per minute on 7kw.

Pay as you go: no fee and charged at 15.7p per minute on 22kw and 8.4p per minute on 7kw.

Full and flexi members can also reserve a charging spot. You can download the ‘Source London’ app which helps you find your nearest charging spot.

Another option is ‘lamp column’ charging. You may have seen the odd electric car plugged into a lamp post. These charging points are operated by ‘Ubitricity’ and offer a 3.5kw charge.

These come at a larger cost however:

‘Smart Cable’ with subscription: buy Smart Cable for £199, membership £9.99 per month and charged at 16p per kWh

‘Smart Cable’ without subscription: buy ‘Smart Cable’ for £199 and charged at 19p per kWh

Pay as you go: 24p per kWh

These tend not to be in dedicated parking bays however.


Kensington & Chelsea

RBKC currently has 43 ‘Source London’ charging points and 225 ‘lamp column chargers’. These charging points offer 3kw, 7kw and 22kw charging and the borough that it is “working with ‘Transport for London’ to introduce rapid chargers very soon.” For more information visit rbkc.gov.uk

Hammersmith & Fulham

LBHF boasts over 200 charging stations across the Borough, most of which are ‘Source London’. The Borough’s website lbhf.gov.uk helpfully lists all the locations of these.


There are over 450 charging points in Westminster, ranging from 3kw to 22kw. There are dedicated on-street charging bays where you can charge for up to 4 hours from 8:30am to 6:30pm every day and charge points fitted into lamp columns alongside resident parking bays. For more information, visit westminster.gov.uk/electric-vehicles


Wandsworth has compiled a list of all the charging sites on its website as well as information on tarifs. There are close to 200 charging stations around Wandsworth. Visit wandsworth.gov.uk for more information.


Camden has released its ‘Electric Vehicle Charge Point Action Plan’ to The Independent. For more information visit camden.gov.uk/electric-vehiclesards helping the Borough go green. It currently has over 80 charging stations according to ??


Lambeth is investing nearly a quarter of a million pounds in the “Go Ultra Low City Scheme” which includes installing charging points throughout the borough. At present there are around 100 in Lambeth. For more information visit lambeth.gov.uk


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