First thing: Have you driven an electric car? If you’ve lived with one for a time, then you likely have some solid ideas of your EV’s best features. Those who have just done a few test drives or haven’t driven electric at all could use some illumination. So here you go.
1. Hey, speed racer! Most electric cars boast pretty impressive acceleration from a stop. Unlike an internal combustion engine, electric motors generate 100 percent of their torque right out of the gate, which means your launch from standing still can be much more aggressive than you would imagine. We’re not saying you should do this as a matter of course…just that it’s kinda fun to know that capability exists.
2. Charging is way cool. Really. There’s nothing like parking your car for the night, plugging in, and starting the next day with a full ‘tank’ of energy on board. Just imagine life without the need to stop at a gas station. If you’re able to sign up for an electric vehicle rate plan from your electric utility, then set your charging to take place at non-peak hours overnight. You’ll have a full charge in the morning at the least possible cost. Plus, an ever-expanding network of public chargers is available for charging away from home, and while many now require a fee, a great many still provide energy for free. So, benefit from the kindness of strangers.
3. Electric vehicles are quiet, so enjoy your solitude. In the early days of EV development during the 1990s, there were unexpected noises to contend with like gear whine, high frequency noise from motor controllers, and such mundane things as the sound of tires contacting pavement and wind rushing past the windshield. Really. The familiar sound of internal combustion that normally masks the everyday sounds of motoring was notably absent. Over the years electrics have been engineered with better and quieter controllers, additional soundproofing, and other engineering measures to create the quiet EVs we have today. Experience the Zen.
4. EVs are extraordinarily efficient so you’ll be saving money every mile you drive, compared to driving on gas. The exact amount varies since gasoline and electricity costs differ by state, region, and city. A recent analysis by the Department of Energy indicated the national average for a gallon of gas was $2.74 compared to $1.21 for an ‘eGallon.’ DOE’s calculations factor the cost of fueling with gas compared to a similar vehicle that runs on electricity. The difference is even more dramatic in California, where I recently fueled up with standard grade gas at $4.59 per gallon. I was glad to get behind the wheel of an electric at the earliest possible opportunity.
5. Driving electric is like being in an immersive game. You have an extraordinary level of influence over your car’s efficiency with instrumentation providing continuous feedback on your driving and how this is affecting range. That’s not as critical in an EV with a 250-mile range capability as it is in one that can go only 90 miles on a charge, but that doesn’t matter. You’ll find yourself intrigued by your car’s instant feedback on energy usage, battery status, and distance-to-empty. There will be times when you will consciously (or unconsciously) adjust acceleration, speed, and downhill coasting to eke out more miles on that constantly recalculating distance readout, since more efficient use of on-board energy adds miles in real-time. Backing off the accelerator early and coasting up to a red light to maximize regenerative braking that feeds energy to the batteries is also human nature for an EV driver. Game on!