For example purposes, you live in Chelmsford, Essex and want to take a weekend breakaway to the lovely seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset – a 185-mile trip each way. To work out how viable this is, let’s take a look at the journey in those three main types of electric vehicle mentioned above – BEV, PHEV and MHEV…
BEV: Chelmsford to Weymouth in a 100% electric car
Depending on what car you’re in, some cars would reach Weymouth easily without having to stop to top up the battery. Other BEVs however, won’t reach Weymouth non-stop.
BEVs such as the Tesla Model X SUV ‘Long Range’ variant (leasing from £793.62 pm) with its 314-mile range could do the outward journey comfortably and still have plenty of range for local sightseeing. For the return journey to Chelmsford, it would require just the one recharge, either in Weymouth or at a motorway services on the way home.
However, more compact BEVs such as the Renault Zoe (leasing from £175.56 pm) with its 130-mile range will certainly require an outward journey top-up, plus a local Weymouth top-up for regional sightseeing and yet another top-up along the way home to Chelmsford.
So, whichever BEV you choose, the solution to travelling further afield is to stop en route at a motorway service station – perhaps after 120 miles – and charge at a rapid charger (see below). After 20-30 minutes or so of charging, your car will be sufficiently topped-up and you can complete your journey.
It’s not that longer journeys can’t be made in a BEV, but that some will require more frequent stops along the way for battery and light refreshment top-ups.
PHEV: Chelmsford to Weymouth in a plug-in hybrid car
With a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), the same journey presents an altogether different set of rules. Let’s take the KIA XCeed PHEV as an example. This handsome KIA hatchback (leasing from £220.53 pm) promises an electric-only range of around 36 miles before the 1.6-litre petrol engine takes over to complete the journey.
You can see the problem straight away. From a practical point of view, it would make no sense – unless you’re particularly fond of coffee and doughnuts – to stop and recharge the XCeed’s battery on the 185-mile trip from Chelmsford to the Dorset seaside, as you would have to stop multiple times.
We already know that PHEVs are only efficient if they are kept fully charged or driven within their electric only range – in other words, ideal for the daily commute when you have a home wall charger for overnight top-ups and perhaps a recharging facility at your workplace for top-ups during the day. The PHEV idyll is of course to never visit a petrol station again!
MHEV: Chelmsford to Weymouth in a conventional, ‘self-charging’ hybrid
Again, the situation changes in a self-charging MHEV such as a Suzuki Vitara (leasing from £196.52 pm). As we already know, MHEVs only run on the battery at very low speeds, and once you reach around 20 mph the fossil-fuelled engine fires up automatically to power the car and charge the battery. For the entire journey to and from Weymouth – doable of course without stopping – you will be running the engine pretty much all the time.