How do you drive an electric car?

If you can drive a conventional 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 electric car 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’d 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 than a conventional one.

Here are some things to consider.

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 of the 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 display. At first, this can seem a little disconcerting, but it soon becomes a familiar – and welcome – part of driving an electric car.

Instant torque

Volkswagen e-Golf

In an electric car, 100 percent of the torque (pulling power) is available from the moment you touch the accelerator. This means that 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 a little 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.

Brake feel

In a separate article, we explored the pros and cons of regenerative braking. For the benefit of this piece, it’s worth remembering that the brakes will feel different to a standard car.

The degree of difference will depend on the car’s regenerative braking system – or your preferred settings – but the brakes are one of the key differences between an electric car and a conventional vehicle.

Remember, regenerative braking can preserve and increase your electric range. Use it wisely.

One-speed transmission

Hyundai Kona Electric centre console

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. From a driving perspective, you’ll experience smooth and linear acceleration.

As a result, an electric car feels more refined and easier to drive.

Drive sensibly

You 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 vehicle.

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.


Honda e charging at home

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 electric range and preserving the life of the 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 on the driving range. You can read more about preconditioning here.


Aside from the above – and some subtle differences between certain makes and models – driving an electric car is no more challenging than getting behind the wheel of a conventional car.

You’ll enjoy the near-silent driving experience, the smooth and refined electric motor and the lower running costs. Just don’t forget to charge the batteries.

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