What's it like to drive an EV?

When compared to petrol and diesel engines (ICE), the sensation of driving an electric vehicle is markedly different. This is to be expected but once you get used to the differences, the experience can be extremely enjoyable. 


The physical experience

The first thing you’ll often notice is the lack of engine sound. The electric motors powering the axles make much less noise than the combustion chamber and pistons of a petrol or diesel vehicle. You’ll still hear vibrations from the road under your wheels, but the ride will feel quieter overall. 

Braking works similarly to petrol and diesel vehicles, but the resultant friction is used to generate an electrical charge which is then supplied back to the battery, recharging it. This is called regenerative braking and most EVs come with this facility. It gives city EV drivers an advantage over motorway commuters who brake less frequently. 

Almost all EVs (except some hybrid models) feature automatic transmission since there are no mechanical gears to switch between. To achieve greater speed, an electric motor rotates more quickly, immediately transmitting that velocity to the axles. Acceleration should therefore be improved because the transmission process is simpler. Brisker acceleration may take some getting used to at first, particularly in urban areas. 

The simplicity of an EV’s engine makes these vehicles easy for learners since gear changes aren’t required (eliminating the chances of stalling at roundabouts). 


The aesthetic experience

Some EVs are styled with sharp, modern edges, as if to emphasise their futuristic engineering. Others look exactly like any other car. Instead of a fuel tank portal, you’ll have a charging port, of course.  

A main difference between EVs and ICE vehicles is that EVs can devote space to gain passenger comfort due to fewer mechanical parts and no requirement for a fuel tank. This is generally true even in vehicles with increased battery size and range. 

Another difference inside the car is that the fuel gauge is replaced with a range and/or charge indicator. This will inform you how full your battery is, and how far you should be able to drive before needing to recharge.  

You’ll usually have an amber warning and a red, critical warning so you’ll always know when to recharge. How these warnings map to battery depletion (%) vary by EV manufacturer.