Torque Shop

I am considering replacing my nine-year-old car with an electric car. However, I have some concerns regarding electric cars, such as the maintenance and charging. Are there major issues to consider and are there any driving tips that would be useful?

Currently, the only electric cars available here are the BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq and Renault Zoe. More will arrive shortly.

A major component that may require replacement is the battery pack, which is largely covered by warranty.

Most manufacturers offer a warranty of 100,000km, while Hyundai gives a 10-year one-to-one replacement warranty for its Ioniq.

Before buying an electric car, find out the terms and conditions by which a battery replacement can be evoked. In some cases, a replacement will be granted only if the battery fails completely. In others, a certain level of degradation qualifies for replacement. This is crucial because a battery that degrades by 20 per cent will lead to your charging cost rising by as much.

Maintenance cost is lower. For example, you do not need to change engine oil and oil filter, spark plugs, fuel filter, timing belt or radiator.

An electric motor has hardly any parts that wear or require periodic replacement or even maintenance. If you look around your home and consider the ceiling fan as an example, you will realise how its motor goes on and on with no care required.

Hence the regular service intervals for an electric car are more for keeping parts such as brakes, tyres, suspension and steering in good shape. The motor will comfortably outlast the rest of the car.

Electric cars are pleasant to drive. There is hardly any noise and acceleration is sparkling. But do bear in mind that frequent rapid acceleration will diminish battery charge quickly.

It is better to accelerate firmly, but not aggressively, and coast whenever you can to induce regeneration of battery charge (such as when approaching a stop light or descending a viaduct). You should also avoid "idling" with the air-conditioner and accessories on.

In short, all the good practices you would adopt in a combustion engined-car to save fuel.

As for charging, electric cars are sold with a wall-mounted charging port. If you live in a house, you can install that in your driveway. In a condominium, you would have to discuss this with the management committee. It gets tricky if you live in public housing.

There are, however, a growing network of public chargers, with at least one - at The Heeren in Orchard Road - offering free charging.

One full charge will typically last you three to four days of normal usage.

Shreejit Changaroth and Christopher Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2018, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe