(English) Change

Drive Electric

How to drive an electric car

Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.


How to drive an electric car

There’s a revolution happening in the way we power the cars we drive. Electric cars are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel across the world. The automotive landscape is shifting to reflect this change.

You might think this seismic shift also applies to how different electric cars are to drive. Not so. They’re simple to operate, extremely accessible and very practical, too.

We’re going to talk through how driving electric cars differs from driving petrol or diesel-powered cars, how to get the most out of an electric car and how easy they are to drive.

Reserve an EV Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.


Is driving an electric car different?

The short answer to this question is yes. A more nuanced one is yes and no. That’s because all the principles of driving an electric car are exactly the same as using one that runs on petrol or diesel. However, there are differences in the way power is delivered to the wheels.

Driving an electric car needs exactly the same road awareness that all driving does. In most EVs, features like the direction indicators, lights and wipers have exactly the same controls we’re used to in petrol or diesel cars.

One of the biggest differences you’ll experience the first time you get behind the wheel of an EV is that there’s virtually no engine noise. With no internal combustion taking place in the engine and no exhaust being emitted, the only sound an EV car makes is from the wind passing over it and its wheels on the road.

That said, manufacturers have begun introducing artificial sounds to replace engine noise. This is both for the benefit of drivers, who sometimes need this feedback to gauge their speed, and for the safety of pedestrians and other road users.


What’s it like driving an electric car?

Many people assume that when they get in an electric car for the first time, it’ll be just like driving a petrol or diesel-powered car, with an automatic transmission. But electric cars work a little differently.

There are only two pedals, the throttle and the brake, just like an automatic. However, while an automatic transmission works its way up and down the gears according to the car’s speed and load being placed on the engine, EVs effectively only have one gear.

What this means is that the torque that petrol or diesel-fuelled cars must gradually build up is immediately available in an electric vehicle. As a result, the acceleration from a standing start can be very rapid as the power is directly applied to the wheels.

You’ll find this levels off as you reach higher speeds, so the acceleration between 40mph and 60mph won’t be as dramatic, but it should still be comparable to a petrol or diesel-powered car.

EVs also use something called regenerative (regen) braking. When you take your foot off the accelerator, the car automatically starts to apply the brakes. In doing this, it helps to charge the car’s battery.

With a little forward planning and awareness of road conditions ahead, you might end up physically braking less as regen braking uses torque to slow the car. While regen braking feels a bit different than standard braking, it is something you’ll get used to the more you get behind the wheel of an electric car, with most people adjusting after just a few miles.


What is the most efficient way to drive an electric car?

Exactly the same as petrol or diesel-powered vehicles, there are ways to improve the performance of an electric vehicle via your driving practices. One of the main concerns with driving an EV is the distance it will cover before the power runs out and the battery needs recharging. While EVs are naturally very efficient, it’s important to be conscious of how you’re driving if you want to cover the maximum possible range on a charge.

One of the keys to this is having a light right foot. It might be tempting to use all that torque to move away quickly when the stop light turns green, but taking off more slowly and smoothly will preserve your power.

Stopping slowly and gradually will maximise your battery as well. Model 3 assists the driver with this practice via its regen braking, a setting that increases battery charge by recapturing energy that would otherwise be wasted with traditional braking methods.

Something else to consider is how much other power you’re using with other onboard features. Air-conditioning, heating and media devices all drain power from the battery. If it’s safe and comfortable to do so, it’s a good idea to switch them off during your trip to save power.


What happens if an electric car runs out of battery?

While not impossible, the chance of your EV running out of battery power is extremely unlikely. This is due to a few factors:

  • Charging station availability: With over 250,000 stations across Europe, Shell Recharge is our approved network of charging points. You can use your Shell Recharge key fob – which you’ll receive when you collect your hire car keys – to enjoy access to recharging facilities on your journey.
  • Battery-status displays: Model 3 displays the battery meter and the battery range in a prominent location on the touchscreen to assist with monitoring your charge. The battery meter reflects the charge remaining with numerical percentage, a status bar and colour changes (green to yellow to red). The battery range displays estimated miles remaining.
  • Intelligent design: As Model 3 detects a low charge, it provides plentiful alerts and warnings as well as suggested nearby charging station locations via pop-up notifications.

There are numerous practices to easily ensure your EV always has plenty of charge, such as:

  • Monitor your battery charge throughout your trip, keeping in mind extreme weather conditions, poor driving practices and excessive use of car features will run the charge down faster.
  • Anticipate when you will need to recharge and where charging stations are located, ensuring the distance to the next charging station is not greater than the distance remaining on your battery.
  • Become comfortable with your preferred location search method. Options range from accessing the Shell Recharge website or downloading the app, to touching the lightning bolt on the Model 3 screen.

When you collect the EV we will measure the battery level. We will measure it again when you return. We ask you to return the EV with the same level of battery or 75% (whichever is lower). If you return the EV with a lower level of battery then we will recharge it for you and will charge you a Recharging Fee. If the battery is 20% or less when you return the a recharging Admin Fee will also apply.

In the improbable event your EV battery dies, please contact our roadside recovery number. You will find this in our standard Rental Terms and your Rental Agreement, which can be viewed after your booking. You will be charged for recovery, unless you have selected our Premium Emergency Roadside Service.

Want to learn more about going electric with your next hire car? Check out our electric car hub where you’ll find FAQs, guides and more detailed information.

Charging an electric vehicle

Touchscreen | Driving Information

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Regenerative Braking

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Plugging In

Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.