Electric cars in 2022

Driving an electric car in 2022: What’s it like?

Drivers in the UK have led the way in electric car adoption. Nearly one in six new cars sold in the last year were electric, and almost 100,000 new electric cars were purchased in just the first five months of 2022.

With improved charger accessibility and exemptions from congestion charges, it’s never been a better time to drive an EV (electric vehicle) in the UK - and this is just the beginning.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about driving an electric car in the UK in 2022 and share how car subscription is revolutionising access to EVs.

What is it like to drive an electric car?

If you’re used to driving petrol or diesel cars, you might be wondering if driving electric cars will be different. For the most part, driving an electric car is the same as driving a petrol or diesel car - it doesn’t require any special training or special licence, and all the rules of the road still apply.

But there are a few key points that set electric cars apart. From cleaner systems to lower running costs, it’s easy to see the benefits of driving an EV.

The facts

Switching to an electric car can seem like a big change, but once you’ve got all the facts, you’ll understand why it’s definitely a positive one.

Fact #1 - Power

  • It sounds obvious, but petrol cars run on internal combustion engines (ICEs) powered by petrol
  • Electric cars run on a battery powered by electricity

Fact #2 - Emissions

  • ICE cars produce exhaust as a byproduct of combustion - these emissions can contain toxic compounds and cause air pollution
  • Electric cars run only on electric power - so they produce no emissions

Fact #3 - Maintenance

  • ICE cars have complex inner systems - if one component isn’t working, the car may not run properly. They can need frequent - and costly - maintenance
  • Electric cars have fairly simple inner workings that are easy and affordable to repair when needed - though they rarely need maintenance

Fact #4 - Handling

  • Petrol and diesel cars are available as manual or automatic, depending on the driver’s preference and licence
  • Electric cars are much closer to automatic cars - the battery provides constant power so there’s no need to shift through gears to gain speed

Fact #5 - Costs

  • Petrol and diesel cars are subject to all kinds of congestion and emission zone charges. If you’re a commuter, these can really add up!
  • Electric cars are exempt from the LEZ, ULEZ, and Congestion Charges, among others

Fact #6 - Policies

  • After 2030, new petrol cars will not be offered for sale in the UK
  • The number of charging points for electric cars has nearly quadrupled in the last five years, and there are ambitious plans for expansion before all new cars sold will be required to be electric in 2030

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Electric, hybrid, petrol and diesel cars compared

What’s the difference between electric, hybrid, and petrol cars? These three types of cars are each powered by different energy sources, and have slightly different running systems. Electric cars use electric power, petrol and diesel cars need fuel, and hybrids use combinations of both electric power and fuel. 

How do petrol cars work?

In a petrol car, petrol is converted into power by the internal combustion engine (ICE). The byproduct of this process is exhaust, a combination of gases expelled through the exhaust pipe. These emissions can contain a number of harmful compounds and have significant negative impacts on air quality.

How do hybrid cars work?

Before electric cars were adopted en masse, hybrids were popular options for low-emission cars. For drivers uncertain about whether a fully electric car would provide the range they needed, a hybrid car seemed appealing - it could use electric power but still run primarily on petrol.

Hybrids use both electric power and petrol, so every type of hybrid car has both an electric battery and an internal combustion engine. Some can run on greater proportions of electric power, but all of them require petrol to run properly.

What are the different types of hybrid cars?

There are three primary types of hybrid cars: mild hybrids (MHEVs), full hybrids (FHEVs), and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

A mild hybrid has both an internal combustion engine and an electric battery, but it’s not much different from a petrol or diesel car. The battery isn’t powerful enough to run the car on its own, and it also can’t be charged separately - it charges using power generated by the ICE. In short, it runs primarily on petrol but might have slightly lower emissions than some petrol or diesel cars.

A full hybrid also relies on petrol to power its ICE and battery, but the key difference between a full hybrid and a mild hybrid is that the full hybrid can run fully on its battery power for short distances. Though their batteries are more powerful, full hybrids still can’t run without petrol or charge their batteries directly at charging points.

As the name suggests, a plug-in hybrid can be plugged in at charging points. It has a charging outlet separate from its fuel tank, allowing a driver to top up electric power without refilling on petrol. But this doesn’t mean that plug-in hybrids can run exclusively on electric power. They still need petrol to run correctly, and that also means that they’ll still produce exhaust.

How do electric cars work?

Electric cars run fully on electric power, and don’t use any petrol or diesel. In an electric car, a central battery provides power to an electric motor. There’s no fuel being combusted, so they don’t produce any exhaust, and the electric motor is also much quieter than an ICE - all of which means they don’t contribute to air or noise pollution.

Electric cars are the way forward

“Electric cars and hybrids have already overtaken diesel sales in the UK last year. Government incentives and the new legislation coming in 2030 are definitely playing their part, but this isn’t just something that's being forced on customers. We're also seeing a real genuine consumer interest in electric - and the car manufacturers are recognising that they have to make this shift too. All the stars are aligning for EVs to really take off and become our mainstream means of travel.”

Onto CEO, Rob Jolly

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Is now the right time…

… to buy an electric car? 

If you’ve typically owned your own cars, you might be thinking about buying a new electric car now. In 2011, the government introduced a grant to encourage the sale of new electric cars, and the number of electric cars on the roads grew exponentially.

Following that success, the government announced that they’d be ending the programme to focus on promoting other types of electric transportation. As of 2022, drivers opting for new electric cars will no longer be eligible for the grant.

Additionally, if you’ve previously owned cars, you’ll be familiar with all the hassles that can accompany it. Not only will you be driving the same car for years, you’ll also have to secure your own insurance, deal with any maintenance issues, pay for charging, and eventually sell it on. 

…to lease an electric car?

Electric cars are constantly improving, and leasing used to be the only option for drivers who wanted access to new vehicles every few years without the commitment of ownership.

But leasing is far from convenient. If you’re looking at leasing an electric car, your first step will be deciphering the different financing strategies, and once you make your choice, you’ll be going back and forth with the dealer and financing companies to fill out stacks of paperwork.

Once you put down your (hefty and non-refundable) deposit, you won’t just be able to drive your new car off the floor - you’ll have to wait until the car you’ve reserved is delivered to the dealer. With current supply chain delays, it can be months before you’re in a new electric car. And by that time, there may be a newer model you’d rather drive.

Leasing may seem like less of a commitment than outright ownership, but it’s still an agreement to keep the same car for years - at least three, but sometimes up to five. If your needs change or you simply wish you’d chosen something else, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to switch or end your contract early - at least not without strict penalty fees.

…to subscribe to an electric car?

Fortunately, drivers can enjoy flexible access to the latest electric cars with car subscription. With Onto, traditional car leasing and ownership are things of the past. There’s no paperwork, no deposits, no months-long waiting periods, and no penalties for switching to newer electric cars.

Simply sign up directly from our site and you’ll be able to see all of the latest electric cars we have available for delivery to your postcode. Reserve your first electric vehicle (EV), complete our simple registration process, and you could have your new EV delivered directly to your home in as little as a week.

When a newer model is released, or you’d rather have something roomier for the school run, you’ll be able to book your new car right from your account.

Plus, car subscription with Onto is all-inclusive - every monthly subscription includes insurance, maintenance, breakdown cover, and a range of free public charging options.

How to choose your first electric car

Are you ready to pack in your petrol car? Before you choose your first electric car, you’ll want to consider these essential questions:

What type of electric car do you want to drive?

Just like petrol and diesel cars, there are many different types of electric cars on the market. Whether you’re looking for a sporty convertible, a reliable family car, or a plush luxury vehicle, you’ll be able to find an electric car that meets your criteria. 

Spend some time thinking about the types of cars you’ve enjoyed driving, get together a list of must-haves for your next car, then start some serious research - you’re sure to find the right electric car for you. 

What range will your electric car need?

Is most of your driving short city commutes? Or can you not imagine a weekend without a trip to the country - and some long drives on those rural roads? 

Gone are the days of range anxiety. Most electric cars have ranges of at least 100 miles, and some have ranges of nearly 300! Think about your average weekly mileage, and you might be surprised to discover that it’s probably well within the ranges of most electric cars.

If you’re looking for your next car with Onto, you can even sort our cars by range to see which ones meet your requirements.

What’s your monthly budget?

As with any major financial commitment, you’ll want to choose an electric car that’s realistic for your budget. 

With Onto, you’re able to choose from a variety of EVs - so you can go for something flash, or go practical and save a little cash.

Where can you charge your electric car?

In the UK, the average distance between electric car chargers is less than four miles, and there are plans to expand the charging network with thousands of new charging points in the next few years. 

While finding a place to charge shouldn’t be a concern, it’s worth checking out your local charging facilities and seeing where you might be stopping on your regular route just to familiarise yourself ahead of time.

Will you choose ownership, leasing, or a subscription for your electric car?

Outright ownership and leasing can mean years with the same car, endless paperwork, and responsibility for all of the associated costs - in both time and money. For all-inclusive access to the latest EVs, no other option compares to a subscription with Onto.

Hand placing electric car charger into a green Audi e-tron

The best electric cars for 2022

Which electric car should you choose in 2022? Whether you’re looking for a small electric car or something that can fit the whole family, a budget pick or a high-end indulgence, there’s an electric car for every situation.

And when you choose a car subscription with Onto, you’ll have your pick of some of the most popular electric cars - and the freedom to switch when you choose. 

Best small electric cars

If you’re looking for a small electric car, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Small electric cars are perfect for running errands around town, daily commutes, and even a shorter trip out of town or two. 

Fiat 500 electric

The classic Fiat 500 design meets the latest technology.

  • Two-door
  • Range: 145 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £519

Renault Zoe

Surprisingly spacious, the Renault Zoe is compact but big on comfort.

  • Five-door
  • Range: 190 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £499

Peugeot e-208 Allure Premium

The perfect sporty hatchback to put some excitement into your daily journeys with sharp looks and performance to match.

  • Five-door
  • Range: 175 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £569

Best mid-sized electric cars

If you’re in the market for a mid-sized electric car, you’ll find plenty of models to meet your needs. Mid–sized electric cars are great for running the kids to school, picking up the weekly shop, or taking a day trip out of town.

Hyundai Kona

Four doors and five seats will fit the family - with free space to spare!

  • Four-door
  • Range: 245 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £609

Volkswagen ID3

Taking top awards from both Carbuyer and Top Gear, the Volkswagen ID3 is spacious and powerful.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 215 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £619

Peugeot e-2008

A compact SUV with sporty styling and a spacious interior.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 155 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £589

Best family electric cars

Must have room for car seats, school projects, and everyone in the carpool. If you’re looking for a family electric car, here are our top picks for the school run and all the breaks in between.

Volkswagen ID4

An impressive range and plenty of room, the Volkswagen ID4 took ‘Car of the Year’ at the 2021 World Car Awards.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 255 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £899

Audi Q4 40 e-tron

An SUV with space, style, and a sound system perfect for family singalongs.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 255 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £999

Citroën ë-C4

A compact SUV with extra safety features to keep any baby on board extra secure.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 155 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £589

Best electric sports cars

High performance, sleek design, and the feeling of being the coolest driver on the road. Turn heads in an electric sports car.

Audi e-tron GT

  • Four-door
  • Range: 298 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: not yet available

Porsche Taycan

  • Four-door
  • Range: 193 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: not yet available

Lotus Evija

  • Two-door
  • Range: 250 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: not yet available

Best luxury electric cars

The top of the line, with all the features to match. When nothing less than a luxury electric car will do, try one of our picks.

Jaguar I-Pace

  • Four-door
  • Range: 225 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £1299

Tesla Model 3

  • Four-door
  • Range: 215 mi (Standard Range Plus), 280 mi (Long Range)
  • Onto monthly subscription: £1099 (Standard Range), £1299 (Long Range)

Audi e-tron

  • Five-door
  • Range: 220 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £1299

Best budget electric cars

Save the planet while saving money in one of the many budget electric cars on the market today.

Hyundai Ioniq

Practical, spacious, and equipped with everything you need for daily driving.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 155 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £499

Vauxhall Corsa-e

The classic gets an electric upgrade.

  • Four-door
  • Range: 175 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £549

Nissan Leaf

  • Four-door
  • Range: 239 mi (Standard Range Plus), 280 mi (Long Range)
  • Onto monthly subscription: not yet available

Best convertible electric cars

Top down, shades on - nothing says sunny day driving like a convertible. Electric convertibles have just started entering the market - and Onto offers one of them.

Fiat 500 Icon Convertible

The icon goes electric - and gets a stylish convertible upgrade.

  • Two-door
  • Range: 140 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: £599

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet

  • Two-door
  • Range: 310 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: not yet available

Tesla Roadster 

  • Two-door
  • Range: 600 mi
  • Onto monthly subscription: not yet available
Woman walking up to the driver's door of a yellow Peugeot E208

How to get the best deal on an electric car in 2022

How can you get the best deal on a new electric car? If you’re in the market for an electric car in 2022, you might be wondering about the price of a new electric car, how much insurance might cost, and whether there’s another way to get a great deal.

How much does an electric car cost in 2022?

Just a few years ago, electric cars often cost more than petrol and diesel cars. They were seen as something of a niche product - with only a few on the market, those available tended to command high prices. As a result, insurance for electric cars was usually more expensive, and drivers were concerned that electric cars might depreciate faster than petrol cars.

Today, the market for electric cars is well established. New models are released every year at increasingly diverse price points, and there’s a thriving second-hand market that’s disproven the early fears of faster depreciation. 

Whether you’re looking for a high-end luxury electric car or a budget electric car for the family, you’ll be able to find an EV that fits your economic needs.

Is insurance more expensive for electric cars?

When electric cars were first released, insurers could only base their estimates on the cars’ initial sale prices and the fact that maintenance and sourcing replacement parts could be costly. Insurance for electric cars was very expensive, and many insurers refused to cover them outright.

As electric cars were adopted more widely, broader historical data on performance and maintenance became available, and insurers were able to start offering more accurate rates. Today, insurance for electric cars costs roughly the same as it does for comparable petrol and diesel cars. 

All-inclusive electric car subscription with Onto

One of the best ways to get a great deal on a new electric car is to choose an all-inclusive subscription with Onto. When you purchase or lease a new electric car, you’re responsible not only for monthly financing payments but finding your own insurance cover, taking care of maintenance, and covering the costs of charging.

With Onto, insurance, maintenance, and a range of free public charging options are all included with your monthly subscription. And with a monthly subscription, you have the flexibility to choose new cars when newer models are released or your needs simply change. 

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