Electric cars: features, timing and charging costs, new 2018

An electric car is a car that uses its electricity to move through the appropriate recharge , and not the petrol or other fuels usually used in cars. Thanks to electric cars it is possible not only to save the environment by polluting less, but also to save considerably on fuel costs. So let’s see in detail how electric cars work, for those who want to find out more how to use and where to buy an electric car.

The state of the art of electric cars in Italy and in the world

” By 2025, half of the cars produced in the world will be electrified,  and gas and petrol vehicles will give way to hybrid and electric vehicles . Car manufacturers have less than a decade to reinvent themselves or risk being overwhelmed by change in the way they feed, drive and buy vehicles. ” So spoke Sergio Marchionne ,  CEO of FCA, before his death. After having defined it  as “a threat to the existence of the planet”,  Marchionne had reconsidered it and had also included the electric car in his last industrial plan for FCA . In fact, for the insiders, the words of Marchionne are widely shared: the electric car is still in its infancy, but it could become more adult than we expect. A reality that also emerges from the data of Unrae (National Union of Foreign Motor Vehicles Representatives) updated in July 2018: “On the feed front, a  strong decline in May for diesel  which marks a -10.1%, with a share falling by over 4 points, stopping at 51.7% of the market. The cumulative decline is 4.2%, reaching a representativeness of 54.1%. The other engine  declining is the LPG  (-3.5% in the month and -3.7% in January-May), which keeps its share stable. In  growing gasoline (+ 3.1%), which rose to 35.2% in May,  the hybrids increased by 12.3% (to 3.9% share), volumes of natural gas  vehicles doubled  (2.8% of the total ) and electric cars grow by almost  300% ” . The growth is still modest but, Unrae points out, “Understanding and evolved interventions have the potential to lead Italy towards a more modern and innovative scenario, which in  2030 could make electric and hybrid vehicles reach a total of around 50% of total sales “. It is no coincidence that automakers and major players in the electricity market such as  Enel are ready to bet on the future “green” of mobility. Future also embodied by Tesla Motors , an American company of automotive and energy captains created by the eclectic entrepreneur  Elon Musk who is churning out one model after another.

Future of the car and features of the electric car

In short, the future of the car is increasingly eco-sustainable. As EconomyY’s  Randy J. Miller , EY Global Leader Automotive and Transportation, said in this interview , “the use of vehicles using alternative sources of supply will increasingly increase. By 2030 recourse to these sources will increase to 35%, starting from the current 3.5%. Two platforms are at stake: electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. To increase the trend, however, we need better power batteries, technology, continuous investments in infrastructures and even models of forever green electric cars that are more appealing to the customer. On the other hand, the diesel market is in decline: it is estimated that it will fall to 4% by 2020-2025, starting from 30.5% where it is now. It will not disappear, but will undergo a drastic reduction. Massive recourse to electricity for motor vehicles is something that will surely happen . At the same time, governments must develop energy plans that are consistent with the environmental issue “. The attention of the general public towards the electric car seems therefore destined to grow year after year. Here is a mini-guide on the most frequently asked questions related to the use of this type of car: charging modes, vehicle autonomy, battery life.

Charging infrastructure: number and diffusion

The number is not the only important factor regarding the charging infrastructure: there is indeed

a theme linked to the location of the recharge points. Three areas have been identified where they can be installed:

  • Points of interest (shopping centers, cinemas, supermarkets …);
  • Urban roads and public parking lots;
  • Extra-urban freeways / roads.

The different destinations require different operators and business models.

On the basis of the National Infrastructural Plan for the recharge of vehicles powered by electricity (PNire), here is the possible location of the fast charging stations to be installed between now and 2020 . (source:  Energy & Strategy Group, School of Management of the Milan Polytechnic )

How electric cars work: where to recharge them?

Recharge from the columns

The charging mode of an electric car is the same as a mobile phone, so we should begin to consider this type of cars as devices or, better, appliances. The recharge of electric cars can take place through the columns spread throughout the territory , but to date in Italy are absolutely not enough. Germany is the best in Europe: 22,708 columns, one for every 3,620 people. In Norway, on the other hand, there are 7,855 columns, but there is one for every 671 people “. For the most part they are managed by Enel, Italian energy company. Enel began to install charging stations from 2009 starting from Pisa, Rome and Milan. In November 2017, the group led by Francesco Starace announced the installation of 7000 electric power stations by 2020 , to then reach 14,000 in 2022. The “National plan for the installation of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles” provides for a widespread coverage in all Italian regions (including islands) and aims at increasing the number of circulating electric and hybrid vehicles.

Recharge with a domestic electrical outlet

The other way to recharge the electric car is through the classic domestic socket. Not just any, however: car batteries may be damaged because domestic outlets are not designed to be used for many consecutive hours at high power. It is therefore advisable, with a small additional expense, to purchase an industrial CEE socket. Given the lack of columns, the domestic socket installed at home may be considered at this time the main charging point for an electric car. Normally vehicles stay in the garage or parking space several hours a day: it is the ideal situation that allows you to recharge the battery slowly. Contrary to what many people think, you do not have to drain the battery and then recharge it completely because the modern lithium batteries used on vehicles benefit mostly from small partial recharges.

How to recharge an electric car

Recharging an electric car is not that different from charging a smartphone or a laptop. If you decide to do it on the street, you need to locate the nearest charging station on the Internet or on the appropriate applications , then park, connect the cable to the car and bring the card provided by the manager near the column . In this the recharging of an electric car differs from one that goes to petrol: it is necessary to be equipped with a special magnetic card, similar to an ATM, which allows you to unlock the door and insert the adapter. When connected, the display will show the meter: you can check how many KwHs are filling the battery, just like a fuel tank. When the recharging is complete it is sufficient to bring the card back to the column and disconnect the cable. The public recharge through the columns is paid with a subscription: on average it has a fixed cost of 25 euros per month , which includes an unlimited number of top-ups and the activation card. If instead you prefer to top up from home, there is a rental fee for an additional meter that costs an average of 60 euros per month: it can be made payable to a single user or a condominium. Alternatively, you can load the car through a normal outlet: the costs will go to flow on the electricity bill. But, as we have seen, it is advisable to purchase an industrial CEE socket. On average, with an euro, an hybrid vehicle plugged in for around 25 kilometers can be charged in an hour and a half, up to spend 5 euros to charge an electric car in 8 hours that can travel about 150 km.

Electric charge: rates and rules

In the various business models related to electricity charging, according to the Energy & Strategy Group report at the Politecnico di Milano , one of the differences that emerged is the question of pricing, or the rate at which electricity is sold. being charged.

3 different types of pricing have been identified:

  • Tariff on the basis of the energy withdrawn (€ / kWh) : this category also includes the season tickets
  • Tariff on the parking time (€ / minute)
  • Free

A first consideration to make in this regard is that not all operators have full availability in the choice of pricing: the current legislation in fact does not allow. The full openness to all of the different charging options for charging is a current issue and will certainly be resolved with the development of electric mobility and the entry into play of different operators.

However, the “indirect” sale of energy is not prohibited , through the concept of service (for example not only energy as such, but also the use of the stall, or the presence of infotainment or connectivity services on board the point charging ). Some operators “sell” this service by parameterizing it to the kWh, in a sort of “proportional reloading” of the pure cost of energy. The resultis that the end customer perceives a sort of recharge cost in € / kWh. Furthermore, to date charging time is one of the main disadvantages of electric vehicles compared to traditional ones, which pushes us to consider “pricing” unjust over time.

How long does the autonomy of an electric car last?

One of the main challenges for car manufacturers interested in electric cars is the research and development of batteries that allow greater autonomy and rapid recharging. Currently, commercial electric vehicles (EV) can guarantee an average range of up to 170-200 km per charge. Citröen declares that the C-Zero model can travel up to 150 km without having to recharge, Nissan claims that Nissan Leaf allows driving for 199 km per charge. The Tesla Model S P85, according to its creators, can guarantee up to 491 km per charge.

Battery life time

The batteries of modern electric cars, mostly Lithium (Li), are quite durable. As reported by insiders, there is a decay of enough marked batteries in the first 30 thousand km, decay that then settles on a very low rate. In any case, the battery capacity remains between 90% and 95% on average, even once the 200 thousand km have been reached (and exceeded). For example, the Tesla Model S battery loses on average less than 15% of its original capacity during the average life cycle of the vehicle (250 thousand km).

Here are the electric cars that will debut on the market.

The electric cars  allow increasingly high mileage thanks to greater autonomy and have become a serious alternative to be considered with respect to a vehicle equipped with a petrol or diesel engine. With a still challenging purchase price , electric machines guarantee not only a decisive long-term saving, since it will not be necessary to refuel, but also the possibility of not having to comply with the blockages of the circulation given the total absence of harmful emissions. In this guide to electric cars we want to indicate the best cars to be taken into consideration, specifying the prices, characteristics and performance of each one.

Prices of electric cars

The price of electric cars is today one of the biggest obstacles to their diffusion, so much so that electric cars are still considered a niche product. The situation is changing slightly and thanks to a finally satisfactory autonomy / price ratio, the battery-powered cars are almost ready to conquer the masses. It remains true that electric cars of less than 30,000 euros remain very few (there are six currently sold in Italy). If you take in fact the list prices of electric cars on the market in Italy (basic equipment), it appears that the average price is 43,000 euros . Here is the ranking of electric car prices in Italy: the cheapest electric car is theSmart ForTwo Coupé with a price of 23.920 euros, while the most expensive is the BMW i8 in Roadster version for 163.270 euros!