Guide to Driving an Electric Vehicle

Everything you need to consider

Here at Cambridge Electric Vehicles, we love all things electric, and we are here to walk you through the journey. No matter what type of car you are looking for, new or used, petrol or electric, you will always want to take a test drive before making any decisions.

However, there are many characteristics that make driving an electric car a much more different experience to a more conventional petrol or diesel car. Here on this page, we will go through these differences and discuss everything you need to know. In summary, electric cars look like any other car but most noticeably they are:

  • Very quiet and smooth
  • Faster
  • No gears gives you instant power

First let’s discuss probably the most noticeable difference when driving an EV for the first time – noise levels.

EV Silence is Golden

As there is no internal combustion taking place in the engine and no exhaust being emitted, an electric car is very very quiet. In fact, the only sound comes from the wheels on the road and music from the stereo!

With no obvious engine noise when you first start up to let you know you are ready to go, an EV’s only obvious signs are when the dashboard lights up which can feel strange at first.

This quietness does take a while to get used to, but most drivers welcome the peaceful cabin environment that an EV offers.

In fact, electric cars are so quiet there was a fear that pedestrians couldn’t hear approaching vehicles, so all new types of four-wheel EVs must be fitted with an AVAS (acoustic vehicle alert system), a type of electric vehicle warning sound system, which makes a sound similar to a traditional engine.

The AVAS must sound when the EV is reversing or travelling at less than 18.6mph (30km/h). The minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles are that a pedestrian should be able to hear the EV over background noises. You can read more about this here.

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Instant Power with Electric

As an EV delivers 100% of its power immediately you touch the accelerator, between 0-60 you will struggle to find anything quicker than an electric vehicle. Around town this allows for rapid acceleration when needed even from the smallest of electric motors.

Whilst most customers think about the environmental and the fuel saving benefits of owning an EV, they are really good fun to drive. Improved acceleration and unrivalled zippiness around town combined with a low centre of gravity (due heavy batteries mounted in the floor) allow for an engaging drive.

Unlike a traditional engine which uses a gearbox to change gears, EV’s don’t have any gears. Simply climb in, press the start button, choose drive and away you go. The one-speed transmission of an EV means there is no sensation of gearshifts which makes the drive even smoother.

In a conventional automatic, the transmission shifts through the gears once you put the car into drive. However, an electric motor doesn’t require gears – the motor spins in one direction to go forward and the other way to go backwards giving you almost instant throttle response.

The rotational force of an electric motor allows for instant torque which provides the vehicle with the instant power we talked about previously. Instead of using the cars gears to get the engine into a peak power range before you get acceleration, the electric motor provides this instantly.

With loads of torque and instant acceleration, an electric motor is perfect for speeding a car up. However, it is also pretty cool and unique in slowing the vehicle down.

Regenerative Braking

Brakes are one of the key differences between an electric car and a conventional one. In many electric cars, simply remove your foot from the accelerator and the built in energy capture system will slow you down enough in most situations.

Of course, there are conventional brakes for when you need to stop in an emergency, but most find these are only necessary when parking.

An EV’s regenerative braking feature helps recover energy that would otherwise be lost through decelerating and braking. This technology uses the kinetic energy of the vehicle to extend the range of the battery.

When you release your foot from the accelerator or apply the brake in an EV, the electric motor switches from powering the wheels to generator mode. The generator then converts a portion of the kinetic energy into electricity, which is stored in the battery.

As already mentioned, regenerative braking is one of an EV’s biggest differences from a conventional petrol or diesel, but also what makes an EV so easy to drive.

With the vehicle doing most of the work when slowing down, this means that the brakes last longer as they are being used less so ongoing running costs are reduced.

But braking is not the only cool thing unique to an electric vehicle. The car’s heating system works differently so let’s see how.

The Heating System

Typically, the waste from the car’s combustion engine is used to heat the interior of the car. In an electric vehicle, there is no waste heat, so the temperature is produced using an electric heater element that is powered by the battery.

Much like using a battery to power the car, the advantage of using the battery to heat the car is that the heat is instant. However, this does have an impact on battery range so be careful.

An EV also allows you to precondition the temperature before you start your journey using an App on your phone which can pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin before. As the car is plugged into the mains this requires no extra power other than the electricity in your home which will maximise the car’s range.

Our experts are always on hand to answer any of your questions you may have but in summary, driving an EV is essentially the same as any car. However, there are several key differences that we have discussed on this page to consider.

Most of our customers love the near-silent driving experience, the smooth and instant power of the electric motor and the lower running costs.

Of course, there is nothing like driving an electric car to see what it feels like. Here at Cambridge Electric Vehicles, we always have a wide choice of used and nearly new EV’s from a wide selection of manufacturers for you to test drive.

Simply get in touch with us today and arrange a test drive to experience the thrill of electric motoring.

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