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How Electric Vehicles Will Modify Your Driving Habits

Electric vehicles will need drivers to develop a new set of driving skills.

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Using an electric vehicle requires some changes in driving style.
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A lot is going to change once electric vehicles become mainstream. Driving behaviour is one such. Electric vehicles do look and feel a lot like conventional petrol, diesel or gas-powered internal-combustion engine driven modes of transport, but they demand a new set of driving skills.

It will take a little getting used to when you start driving an electric vehicle for the first time. The lack of gears, the immense torque for quick acceleration and the fact that you can recoup some of the power you consume makes for significant changes to driving behaviour.

Here are some things that you will need to pay heed to when driving an electric vehicle.

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How to Use Regenerative Braking

One key feature that new-age electric vehicles have is regenerative braking. Put simply, the motor turns into a generator when the vehicle is slowing down and recharges the battery. By using regenerative braking one can recoup about 10 to 20 percent of charge on an average trip in city traffic.

However, one needs to pay attention to the “braking” part. Many electric vehicles come with the option to set the levels for how aggressive this regeneration is. Think of it like “engine-braking” in a petrol or diesel car.

The aim to using regenerative braking is to let the vehicle decelerate or free-wheel as much as possible. That way energy is not lost by braking, but the vehicle is still slowing down due to the magnetic resistance in the motor, while it converts that kinetic energy back into electricity to charge the battery.

One should aim to practice “single-pedal” driving, where pressing the accelerator moves the vehicle while releasing it lets it decelerate safely, using the brakes sparingly.

How to Drive For Maximum Range

With the charging infrastructure in a nascent stage right now, one key task while driving an electric vehicle is to be able to maximise the range from the battery. It is quite similar to driving for fuel efficiency with a petrol or diesel car.

One advantage that electric vehicles have is that while it is stationary, there is very little power being consumed from the battery, unlike the fuel wasted with idling an internal combustion engine.

Also, electric vehicles achieve peak torque from the moment they start moving, so it’s easy to move off without having to floor the accelerator pedal. Just feathering the pedal is enough. Secondly, use as much of regenerative braking as possible by planning your stops in advance, so you can just slow by decelerating instead of braking hard.

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The Right Time to Charge

As with a petrol or diesel car one needs to keep an eye on the amount of charge left in the battery, keeping in mind the nearest fast-charging station or home-charging outlet. But unlike a petrol or diesel car, one doesn’t have to visit a fuel station to fill up every time.

With an EV the discipline a driver needs to develop is to charge the vehicle like he or she would a mobile phone. For instance, if the vehicle has a 300 Km range and a person’s daily commute is about 50 Km a day, it can be charged once every four days, when it still has about 30 percent battery juice left. Plug it in and let it charge overnight.

Also, if there is a lot of driving to be done, look for fast-charging stations where one can take a break for about 30 minutes (which would be enough to top up battery charge till 80 percent or so). Don’t wait for the battery to drop below 15 percent before looking for a charger.

What To Check Under The Hood

Drivers of internal-combustion engine vehicles would be used to peering under the bonnet occasionally to check various fluid levels like oil and coolant. Besides that, during routine service, technicians check for belt tension, wear and tear on moving parts, air filter, oil filter, etc in vehicles with internal-combustion engines.

With an electric vehicle, most things are largely software controlled, so there’s very little driver intervention needed. Most updates can happen over the air as well. Under the hood, some EVs still have coolant level, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid to check. But very little else.

Common wear and tear parts of EVs and internal combustion engine vehicles include tyres, brake pads, bulbs, and wiper blades.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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