If you’re living with an electric car, what type of house you have is more important than you think

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If you live in a flat or don’t have off-road parking, running an electric vehicle may be more difficult than you think, writes Sean O’Grady

If there is one hard lesson I have learned about living with an electric car, it is that it is not for everyone. At least not for now.

Sure, there are loads of great things you can say about electrification – all true. When you next get a chance to go to a pub with friends and family, you can argue the toss over whether they are in reality, “well- to wheel” greener than an equivalent vehicle with an internal combustion engine. I’ve seen different versions of that, with different assumptions about the electricity required to manufacture them, the energy need to extract scarce minerals for the batteries, and whether scrapping perfectly sound petrol/diesel/hybrid vehicles. (Generally I think the electrics are, like-for-like still always greener within almost any parameters, and will eventually “break even” over their lifetime in their environmental benefits). You can, over anther pint, enjoy a rational discussion about whether the usual price premium attached electric cars makes sense over any given mileage – balancing price/lease costs with far lower fuel costs and maintenance bills (the more miles you do, the more sensible the electric option can be). You can also take a view on whether they take the “fun” out of driving or not (they don’t, on the whole). And so on.

But the most salient fact is not what kind of electric car you want, but what kind of dwelling you inhabit. If you live in a flat, say, or a terraced house without any off-street parking (and therefore an easy way to charge your vehicle up), the electric car seems to be an impractical proposition. If you do have a way of plugging one in to a faster charging external wall socket, then you’re fine, in principle. It’s about a simple as that. That is why many of the complaints about the very real inadequacy and unreliability of the charging network is a bit beside the point. You shouldn’t need to recharge all that often away from home. You take the car, drive around for a bit, come home and plug it in ready for the next day.

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