Nearly two-thirds (65%) of UK adults are planning a long road trip this summer with six per cent planning to make the trip in an electric vehicle and nine per cent in a hybrid, a study by insurer Aviva has found,.
Previous Aviva research, released in April 2022, found more UK drivers were planning to buy an EV or hybrid as their next car (58%) than either a petrol or diesel model (43%), but revealed some were put off by fears over limited range, lengthy charging times and of being stranded.
The new study, however, helps allay some of these concerns, finding that most people would typically break the journey anyway, with 72% going for no longer than three hours before stopping.
It reveals an average stop time of 26 minutes, enough for EV drivers to recharge both themselves and their cars. Rapid charge points, often found at motorway service stations and other locations, can typically bring an EV’s battery to 80% capacity in half an hour.
Technological advances mean that today’s EVs have three times the battery range of a decade ago, averaging 257 miles on a single charge.4
When would you rest?
Percentage of adults
|30 minutes or less||4%|
|More than 30 minutes, up to an hour||7%|
|More than an hour, up to two hours||30%|
|More than two hours, up to three hours||32%|
|More than three hours, up to four hours||16%|
|More than four hours, up to five hours||5%|
|I would not / never stop||7%|
Matthew Washer, Head of Connected Motor, Aviva said, “We are at a turning point with more people considering a hybrid or fully electric vehicle than a petrol or diesel model, so it’s essential that people are confident about the transition to more sustainable driving.
“However, many people are understandably worried that an EV might run out of charge, leaving them stranded, or that they won’t be able to find a charge point. Obviously, that’s an even greater concern on a long journey.
“But what this new research reinforces is how unusual it would be to even consider making a long trip without stopping, whether that’s to use the toilet, get some food and drink, have a nap or even just stretch your legs.
“While you’re recharging your own batteries, you could be doing the same to your car. More and more public charge points are coming on stream all the time, and plugging in for just a few minutes will often give you enough power to reach your destination – plus you’ll arrive feeling much fresher, too.”
Pulling out the stops
The Highway Code recommends drivers take a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours, and stop in a safe place if they feel sleepy.
However, the Aviva survey found nearly a third (32%) of those questioned typically go two to three hours before pulling over, while 16% go three to four hours. Worryingly, some would push on further still, despite official advice.
Of those stopping, a third (32%) tend not to plan breaks, saying it depends on the journey and how they and the vehicle’s other occupants feel.
A similar number (30%) consider a break to be an enjoyable part of the journey, while 22% plan theirs to stop in certain spots. That figure is higher (27%) among travellers in EVs, perhaps reflecting the need to find a charge point.
There are 31,507 such points across the UK, according toZapMap. Many more are planned as part of the Government’s Transport Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, as the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars draws nearer.
Sales of EVs and hybrid vehicles are bucking a falling trend in sales and comprised 27.9% of all new car registrations during April, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. There are more than 858,000 plug-in cars registered in the UK.
As many drivers are nervous about switching to an electric vehicle (EV), the last thing they want to see is the low battery light flashing mid-journey without access to an EV charging point.
Around 224,225 cars broke down between April 2018 and March 2019 in the UK, on motorways alone, so it’s always best to be prepared for a potential breakdown scenario.
So what if you do break down in an EV?
Rhiannon Philps, personal finance expert at NerdWallet shares some insight into what electric drivers should do if they run out of power while driving.
“Running out of power in an EV is not the same as running out of petrol or diesel in a car with an internal combustion engine. The only option is to be taken to the nearest charger.
“Fortunately, you can push an EV if it breaks down, as the motor of an electric car engages when power is applied.
“When no power is applied, the motor is free to rotate and any rotation is sent backward to charge the batteries. However, pushing an electric car wouldn’t be any easier than pushing a regular petrol or diesel car, so it’s worth having a back-up plan just in case your EV stops working.
“It could be a good idea to take out roadside assistance, as a minimum, before setting off in your car. This is the most basic, and often cheapest breakdown cover, covering the cost of an emergency call-out to your broken down vehicle and a tow to a nearby garage if it needs further repairs. Other, more comprehensive breakdown policies offer further cover and could help you get to your chosen destination, for example.
“Many providers will cover EVs under their standard breakdown policies, so you shouldn’t need to pay any more than someone with a petrol or diesel vehicle.
“At last count, there were more than 20,000 EV public charging points in the UK and some EVs have a charging station locator in their onboard infotainment systems.
“You can also download a charging network app such as Zap-Map that locates stations nationwide. Using filters, you can then search for several different types of chargers.
“Most EVs are supplied with two cables for slow and fast AC charging; one with a three-pin plug and the other with a Type 2 connector charger-side, both fitted with a compatible connector for the car’s inlet port.
“Ideally, you want to find a fast AC charging point that should boost your battery with 60 to 80 milesof range in one hour.
“Whilst there can be other reasons why a vehicle may break down, it is important you know your mileage limit before you leave for a long journey to avoid future breakdown. Manufacturers will clearly state the EV’s estimated range, which should help you avoid getting caught with a dead battery.
“However, the actual range varies depending on several factors, including whether you run the car’s heater or air conditioner and how fast you drive. So if you are running low on battery, drive slower and turn off any features inside the car to keep hold of energy.”