(E-)Mobility news

All you need to know about electric driving

posted on 8/4/2021
all you need to know about electric driving

Electric driving. E-mobility. Electromobility. Not many topics are so talked about, while so many questions remain to be answered. You know the feeling? Well, you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions and useful links here.

What exactly is electric driving? 

Simple: it is driving a vehicle that is propelled (fully or partially) by a battery, instead of a petrol or diesel engine. A large lithium-ion battery that needs to be charged with electric current. This battery determines the range: the greater the capacity (expressed in kWh - kilowatt hour), the further you drive with a charged battery. 

The focus is mainly on electric passenger cars, while many other electric vehicles are also mushrooming, from e-monowheels, e-steps and e-bikes to excavators, electric trucks and buses. 

Within the scope of “new mobility”, people make their journeys with a variety of vehicles: electric car, e-bike, public transport, an e-step for the final stretch, etc. Quite clever, indeed. Or rather: “smart”. The mobility budget of employees increasingly reflects this mix of mobility solutions. 


Full electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid, what is the difference? 

In addition to “full electric” cars there are also hybrids, which are powered by a combustion engine and an electric motor. The battery supplies power to the electric motor. The braking energy is partly recovered by the electric motor acting as a generator when braking. The recovered energy is then stored in the battery. 

This is the reason why hybrids (among others) are often used for delivery rounds with many stops: the engine constantly recharges itself. 

Plug-in hybrids 

The batteries of hybrids have a small battery capacity (+/- 1 kWh). Larger batteries are required to reduce official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This will allow hybrids to drive electric for longer and use less petrol. 

Therefore, many plug-in hybrids or grid-connected hybrids were introduced in 2014. Their larger battery can be charged via the power grid (hence “plug-in” and “grid-connected”). Plug-in hybrids, also called PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles), have a much greater electric range than conventional hybrids and lower CO2 emissions than 50 g/km. 

PHEVs are ideal for those who often travel short distances and take frequent longer trips. For many, they are also an ideal intermediate step towards full electric driving. Drivers who fear that an electric car does not have sufficient driving range can get used to charging a car with the PHEV technology. For example, they often notice that this is not as difficult as they think, and they quickly become convinced of the possibilities of electric driving.


Why electric driving - and why not? 

Why switch to electric driving? The most spontaneous answer will often be for ecological reasons. You do it because you want to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases in our environment. Or because your company values sustainability.  Or because you live in a low-emission zone and want to immediately switch to zero emissions. Opting for electric vans creates a “green” and social image.

Will all company cars be required to be electric in the long run? No. But the tax framework that was voted in 2021 ensures that electric salary cars still have a tax advantage from 2026. But there are more good reasons for switching to electric driving. 

In summary: 

  • Cost savings: electricity is still cheaper than petrol or diesel. Maintenance costs are also lower because an electric motor has fewer moving parts. In addition, if you can charge with self-generated energy (solar panels), you can further reduce the cost tag. 
  • Less noise: electric cars hardly make a sound, helping to reduce the noise pollution caused by traffic. 
  • Tax benefits: during the coming years, the tax benefits for company cars will be phased out. From 2026, fuel engines will no longer benefit from any tax advantage, and costs will only be partially compensated for electric cars.
  • Enjoyable driving experience: Those who already drive electric often talk about smooth automatic gear changes, fast acceleration, and low-noise driving. 


Why not make the switch (yet)? 

Of course, there are also objections or doubts that stop people from going electric (for the time being). The main obstacles: 

  • The limited range, also called autonomy
  • The public charging infrastructure that is still insufficient
  • The purchase price of an electric car
  • Uncertainty about battery life


In practice, however, it appears: 

  • that the range for normal car use is usually enough: for commuting, shopping, weekend trips, etc. On average, the people in our country drive about 40 km a day. 
  • that further travel poses few problems, provided there is some route planning and an app such as the Alphabet App. Under an electric car lease contract, a fuel car can be provided during the summer for the holiday abroad. 
  • that charging is mainly done at home or at the company - or at a destination where you stay for a longer period - and only recharging at public charging points. 
  • that more middle-class electric cars are launched on the market, Economy and Business category and their driving range is constantly increasing.
  • that the purchase price is still high, but the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for an electric car is surprisingly advantageous. 
  • battery technology is improving and EV battery life is increasing. At the same time, more compact batteries are being designed. 


Charging: how, where, how fast, green? 


You can use a charging cable to charge the EV battery. Nowadays this is possible in various places: at home, at the company, at certain destinations (hotels, for example) or at public charging points and fast chargers (fast charging stations). 


When charging your electric vehicle, whether at home or at work, it is best to use a charging station or wall charger with a special charging cable. The capacity of the electric service you’re using is also very important. Nowadays, most private charging stations can be equipped with a ‘Load Balancing’ feature. This feature makes sure that, when you’re charging your EV, there’s still enough electricity left to power your house and other electrical appliances. With Load Balancing, only the surplus of electricity in your service is used to charge your EV.

A home/private charging station allows you to charge your EV whenever you want. This way, you can always charge to the point where your EV has enough energy for the entire day. Additionally, when you charge your EV at home, you enjoy a more advantageous rate, especially during off-peak hours. charge your EV.

Can’t make do with the energy you charged at home? Then you can always check online to find public charging stations in our area to recharge. According to EV Belgium, the local branch of the European Association for Electromobility, there are currently 8,500 public charging points in Belgium, which equals around 4,200 public charging stations. The government has also set additional targets to expand the public charging infrastructure by building 30,000 new charging points in Flanders and 7,500 new charging points in Brussels.

To summarise: if possible, charge your EV at home, at work or at a charging point at your destination. Use public charging stations only if you really need to.

Public charging station network

It is often said that there are not enough public charging stations in Belgium, and until recently that was true. 

In the meantime, in a few months, the network has grown from 3,000 charging points, to almost 20,000. That number will probably be achieved at the beginning of 2023, because the various governments in our country have indicated that they are investing heavily in public charging points.

With the Alphabet app you quickly know where to go. A charging pass can also be provided within the lease package with an electric car. 

How fast? 

Public charging points typically provide between 3.7 and 11 kilowatts (kW) of power. In practice this amounts to 20 to 60 kilometres of added range per hour.

Charging speed depends on power, at least until the battery is approximately 80 – 90% full. The last 10 – 20% top-ups are slower. The maximum charging capacity is determined by the weakest link in the chain. The components are:

1. The EV battery and charger

2. The charging cable

3. The charging point, fast charging station or socket

4. The connection to the power grid.

For the power of the battery charger, charging cable and charging point, please refer to the manufacturer’s specifications. 

Fast chargers can be found on the road, e.g. at petrol stations. During quick charging, you will stay close to the vehicle as you will be gone in no time. Charging capacities in modern EVs reach 175 or even 350 kW.  

Also with green electricity? 

Electric driving is only as “green” as the energy you’re driving with. A slightly exaggerated statement, but the idea that you can fill up a zero-emission vehicle with sustainable, “green” energy is too good to disregard. It’s not science fiction: you can now refuel with your own solar energy, at home, at the company or at a LIDL supermarket, for example. 

Meanwhile, the share of renewable energy in our country’s total grid power is increasing. The government is also committed to sustainability. 


How far can I go with a fully charged EV? 

As mentioned, the range depends on the capacity of your EV battery (kWh). This capacity varies from model to model. The higher the capacity, the further you can drive with a charged EV. 

In practice, it will usually be less than the range specified by the manufacturer. After all, there are many factors that influence the range, such as driving style, whether you are driving in the city or on motorways, high or low temperatures, the weight of passengers and cargo, etc. You will soon experience this in practice. Never drive to “almost completely empty” and refuel on the go if necessary. 

How much does an electric car cost?

The purchase price (catalogue price or investment value) is one element. But when it comes to electric driving, it’s important to look beyond that: at the total cost of electric driving. You will not only see the list price, but also: 

  • The “fuel price”: refuelling electric current is cheaper than petrol or diesel
  • Repair and maintenance costs: lower than for a petrol or diesel car, because the engine is different, less moving parts that can fail 
  • Tax-deductible
  • Government incentives: federal, regional, municipal


Electric driving: how does it feel? 

All this talk about technical stuff and taxes might make you forget what is also important for many electric drivers: the driver’s experience. Electric driving is silent driving, smooth automatic gear changes and surprisingly quick acceleration. Some people soon don’t want anything else. And you can also feel good about something else: you are contributing to a healthier, clean environment for everyone. 


Which e-models can I choose from? 

The choice in electric cars has long been rather limited, but that has changed in past months. Each brand now has several electric models in its offering, and several new models are launched every month. And there are even several brands that exclusively have electric cars in their range. 

As a result, there is now an electric vehicle for everyone's needs (range) and budget.


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