Horizon Imaging

We've been driving a 100% electric car for the last 18 months – here's why we think they are the future

We live in a very exciting age of personal transport, and I believe this year (2017) will see the greatest surge in interest and demand for potentially the most important technological revolution this decade – the electric car. 
I have been fascinated by this technology since the first mass-produced pure-electric car was launched back in 2010 – the Nissan Leaf. This fascination took a big leap when, in June 2015, I took out a 2 year lease on my own Nissan Leaf – and I’ve never looked back! 
Our 100% electric Nissan Leaf tops up with renewably-produced electricity at an Ecotricity rapid charger after one of our shoots. Click any image to visit its Instagram page. 
Doing your bit for the environment 
Primarily, I made the switch to driving an electric car because of the environmental benefits it offers. Whenever I charge the car, I use electricity provided by the UK’s greenest energy firm, Ecotricity, who produce their electricity entirely from renewable sources of energy (wind and solar power). This eliminates the traditional retort that driving an electric car “isn’t any better for the environment than a car with an engine because you’re just moving the pollution from the car to the power station” … because I’m not! I firmly believe that driving an electric car charged by renewable energy is the greenest form of convenient, affordable, personal transport available at this moment in time (walking and cycling excluded of course!). 
Ludicrously cheap to run 
The second enormous benefit of switching to driving to an electric car is the cost of ownership. Many people are still under the impression that electric cars are still far more expensive than their Internal Combustion Engine (or ICE) counterparts. Whilst this may have been the case 6 years ago when the first mainstream electric car was launched, the on-the-road prices of today’s pure electric cars are comparable with mid-range family saloons and hatchbacks, and they’re dropping in price all the time. The UK Government also offer a grant which currently offers up to £4500 towards the cost of buying an electric car, and £8000 towards buying an electric van. Once the lower ‘fuel’ (electricity!) and maintenance costs are taken into account, owning an electric car suddenly becomes incredibly attractive. 
In ‘fuel’ costs alone, for me it has been a no-brainer to switch. My old diesel smart car achieves an average of 65 miles per gallon, and over the last few thousand miles, this has put the cost-per-mile of driving it at around 8.5 pence per mile. During the 1.5 years I have owned the Nissan Leaf, the average cost of charging the car has put the cost-per-mile around 1.25 pence per mile. So, over the last 25,000 miles of pure electric driving, I’ve already saved over £1800 in fuel costs alone – that’s an 85% reduction! 
As electric cars are mechanically much simpler than their ICE counterparts, regular servicing costs are lower too (typically 2/3 the cost). If you’re still not convinced, don’t forget that as electric cars use regenerative braking technology to pump energy back into the batteries when you brake, brake pads and discs last considerably longer too (my Leaf’s were 10% worn after 15,000 miles). 
Our 100% electric Nissan Leaf photographed during a number of our aerial and ground photography shoots over the last 18 months. Click any image to visit its Instagram page. 
Range anxiety … soon to be a thing of the past 
By far the biggest put-off for potential electric car owners is the range of the cars presently on the market. 7 years ago when the only option was the Nissan Leaf – which would have taken you a realistic 50-60 miles on a charge – this put-off was well-justified. However, as we enter 2017, there are pure electric cars on the market with ranges of between 70 and 300+ miles depending on your budget and requirements. The last few years have seen a very rapid development in battery technology, allowing the likes of Renault to nearly double the capacity of the battery in their very affordable ‘Zoe’ electric car from 22kWh to 41kWh within 4 years of being on sale whilst keeping the car’s price the same. This latest Zoe has a realistic range of 175-200 miles depending on driving conditions and it currently costs around £20,000 after the Government grant. 
Other manufacturers are in the process of releasing cars with similar ranges too, with the Chevrolet Bolt offering around 200 miles per charge, and there are strong rumours that the 2018 Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq will both have ranges of 200+ miles too. That’s not forgetting the eagerly-anticipated Tesla Model 3 which is due to hit the UK roads in 2018 with a minimum range of 215 miles. 
Not for everyone, but for the vast majority 
These leaps in range are fantastic news, but actually, many of us are overlooking the fact that the vast majority of our car journeys are achievable within the range of today’s pure electric cars which offer ranges of around 100 miles on a charge (like the current generation Nissan Leaf). I must admit, I was a little concerned when I was planning to purchase the Leaf that I would constantly be worrying about whether I would have sufficient range for all the journeys I need to make – as the Leaf would become my main business car for Horizon Imaging and would also be my main car for pleasure use too. 
However, after a period of measuring the distances I was driving in my previous car, I reckoned at least 90% of my journeys could be achieved on a single charge, and for longer journeys I would simply top-up using the network of rapid charge points dotted around the country (mostly at motorway service stations). As it happens, close to 99% of my journeys have been achievable in the Leaf, with the rapid chargers allowing me to drive 150-250 miles at a stretch without an issue. The majority of these rapid chargers are operated by Ecotricity, so the electricity they provide has come straight from solar and wind farms – and if you’re an Ecotricity home energy customer you get 52 free charges a year too (otherwise it’s £6 per charge). 
If you need to drive very regular long distances the technology probably isn’t quite there yet … although that said, Tesla’s latest models have ranges in excess of 300 miles, and if battery technology continues to develop as rapidly as it has over the last few years, we can expect to see Tesla-range electric cars for very un-Tesla prices hitting the showrooms in the next few years. 
Our 100% electric Nissan Leaf photographed during a number of our aerial and ground photography shoots over the last 18 months. Click any image to visit its Instagram page. 
The future is closer than you think 
Whilst electric cars certainly won’t suit everyone’s usage patterns, they continue to be overlooked as expensive, unpractical cars – when really they’re the exact opposite. If you combine: 

The convenience of being able to ‘fill up’ at home every night so you always start the day with a full ‘tank’ 

The amazing fact that the infrastructure exists in the UK to allow electric cars to be charged using energy generated from renewable energy sources like the sun and wind 

The ability to extend the range of an electric car by topping up at the growing number of rapid chargers spread across the UK’s road network (nearly 1,000 as of posting this article) 

The very low running and maintenance costs 
… it’s only a matter of time before ICE cars start to appear as dated as the horse and carriage must have looked when the first ICE cars appeared on the scene in the late 1800s! Certainly, once you’ve driven an electric car, going back to an ICE car feels like stepping back into the last century! 
If you’re not quite sure whether an electric car (or van) is right for you or your business, many manufacturers offer free, extended test drives, allowing you to keep the vehicle for a few days to see whether it would fit into your lifestyle / work pattern (as you will need to get into the habit of plugging in every night, and planning longer journeys with a little more care). I did this with the Leaf and it proved that not only would driving an electric car fit my usage pattern without issue, but as soon as I experienced the comfort, instant torque and silence of an electric car, I was sold … 
Driving an electric car charged by renewable energy is just one of the ways I’m doing my bit for the environment through my work at Horizon Imaging. If you have any questions about what it’s like to live with an electric car, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!