What's it like to drive an electric vehicle?


Whilst the uptake in electric vehicles is reaching new highs, it’s clear that they aren’t for everyone. Living in a terraced house, I’ve never considered owning an electric vehicle due to the problems with charging. I’m fortunate enough to have access to them day in day out however, and have the ability to put the main issue (charging) aside. Rarely have I been asked, “What’s it like to drive”?

There are several answers to the question depending on what side of the fence you sit. I’m a lover of cars, especially loud and dirty American Muscle Cars. I also appreciate the need to do something about emissions. Driving an electric vehicle does give you a sense of well being, that you are doing something good.

The latest Nissan Leaf has a feature called “E-Pedal” which uses the accelerator as a brake. This may seem very odd at first, but within a couple of hours of driving, your whole approach to driving would have changed with a sudden respect for anticipating traffic and not hammering the throttle then slamming on the brakes. This system is on the BMW i3, however Nissan allow you to turn the feature off if it really isn’t for you. BMW on the other hand are a bit like an angry parent telling you its their way or the highway, which I get, because it really is the sensible approach. But sensible isn’t for everyone.

Acceleration is quick, very quick. We aren’t talking super car quick (unless you go for Tesla’s ludicrous mode), but most people wouldn’t have experienced the instant torque that electric motors offer. You just don’t get that sort of response from the pedals in a everyday diesel Ford Focus.

Charging still remains THE issue with electric vehicles. Battery and charging tech improves almost weekly, as does the raft of “solutions” manufacturers are coming up with to ease “range anxiety” (yes it’s a real thing). Having lived with an i3 for a couple of weeks with no facility at home to charge it, I realised that a change to how we refuel would serve most potential drivers well. Making use of a slow 7kwh charger in a supermarket was enough to give me a quick boost of around 15 miles, for FREE. It was a bonus that it was free, but more importantly it meant that the trip hadn’t actually used range. It sounds daft to suggest that every time you drive past a petrol station you top up with £2.50 worth of fuel, but it would be a lot more feasible to do so if the pump was attached to your parking space. 

So to answer the question, “What are electric vehicles like to drive”? My answer is simply, Try it for yourself. I love the feeling of instant torque, the lazy one pedal driving and the clean feel you don’t get with diesel or petrol. Charging issues won’t go away, but for most lower mileage drivers, they aren’t such an issue, and if you hire from us, you can always charge it on site for free whilst your out doing your shopping.