If you can drive a conventional automatic car, you can drive an electric vehicle. It’s as simple as that. Sure, there are a few notable differences, but you needn’t fear getting behind the wheel of an EV for the first time.
Most electric vehicles look like standard cars. They have four wheels, a steering wheel, seats for the driver and a few passengers, space for your luggage and the same tech you’ll find in a petrol or diesel car.
You may have to adjust your driving style a little – and recharging will become part of your daily or weekly routine – but you could discover you enjoy driving an electric car more.
Here are a few things to bear in mind before you get behind the wheel.
Silence is golden
You know when a petrol or diesel car is ready to go because you have turned a key or pressed a start button. There’s also the familiar sound and vibration of an engine to let you know the car is running.
In an electric car, you engage drive mode, but the only real sense that the car is ready comes from the dashboard. EVs are much quieter on the move, too.
At first, this lack of noise can seem disconcerting, but it soon becomes a familiar – and welcome – part of driving an electric car.
In an electric car, 100 percent of the torque (pulling power) is available from the moment you touch the accelerator. This means an electric car may race to 30mph quicker than some supercars, although most will lose this advantage beyond 40mph.
The instant torque means that electric cars are great fun to drive in the city, but you might need time to get used to the sharper throttle response. It’s also worth bearing in mind that too many Grand Prix starts will leave a dent in your projected driving range.
In a separate article, we explored the pros and cons of regenerative braking. For the benefit of this piece, it’s worth remembering that an EV’s brakes will feel different to those of a standard car.
The degree of difference will depend on the car’s regenerative braking system – or your preferred settings. However, brakes are one of the key differences between an electric car and a conventional one.
Remember, regenerative braking can preserve and increase your electric range. Use it wisely.
The majority of electric cars have a single-speed transmission. From a technical perspective, this means there are fewer moving parts and potentially lower servicing costs.
As a driver, you’ll experience smooth and linear acceleration, with no clutch pedal and no need to shift gears. As a result, an electric car feels more refined and easier to drive.
You already know that driving fast, being hard on the brakes and flooring the throttle can negatively impact the fuel economy of a petrol or diesel car. The same is true of an electric one.
You’ll need to adopt a steady approach, reading the road ahead and taking it easy on the accelerator pedal. You don’t need to drive slowly, but careful and considered progress will be rewarded with a longer range – and less time spent charging.
Preconditioning allows you to pre-heat or pre-cool the electric car’s cabin before you start your journey. Not only will you feel more comfortable, you’ll be maximising the car’s range and preserving the life of its battery.
It works by heating or cooling the cabin and battery to optimum temperature before you go. Because energy is drawn from the mains, there’s no impact how far you can travel. You can read more about preconditioning here.
Aside from the above – and some subtle differences between certain makes and models – driving an EV is no more challenging than getting behind the wheel of a traditional combustion car.
You’ll enjoy the near-silent driving experience, the smooth and quiet electric motor and the lower running costs. Just don’t forget to charge the batteries.
Charging an electric car: the difference between kW and kWh
How do I drive an electric car with one pedal?
How much company car tax will I save with an electric car?
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