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What's it like to drive an electric vehicle?
What’s not to love about an electric van, says David Brooks. You’ve still got the luxury of being able to drive yourself around, but you’re also being green and reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.
And it’s so, so quiet. “I might be doing 60mph on the motorway and you would think I was in my front room,” he says.
David drives an electric Peugeot Partner (pictured top). The driving experience takes some getting used to, he says, but there are no complaints.
"You have to recalibrate your driving style. It’s like being in a bumper car because you start slowing down considerably the moment you take your foot off the pedal. But it’s a lot less stressful. There’s no revving up, no noise, no gear changing.”
David says he had his doubts at first. As Operations Manager for Transport for London, he’s regularly driving from his home in Kent to all parts of London, and at all hours (he’s just come back from an all-nighter in Stratford, where the power went down on the Tube). He expects absolute reliability and a vehicle he doesn’t have to worry about so he can concentrate on the job in hand.
Running costs of electric vehicles
But when he saw the business case for an electric vehicle (EV), he says he needed no persuading.
“I’m an electrical engineer so I tend to look at things scientifically. There’s no tax, insurance is low and there’s low servicing costs. At night I can park anywhere. One charge costs me about £3.60, and I get around five charges a week. Before that I was spending around £60-70 a week on diesel.”
David has a special charging point at his home installed by ENGIE, where he plugs in his van at night.
It’s also now easy to find charging points at petrol stations and around London where you top up your power in around 20 minutes and pay with your card, just like you would for diesel or petrol.
How far can you travel in an electric car?
The main issue that people have with electric vehicles, says David, is so-called “range anxiety”, the fear that their EV will run out of juice and leave them stranded. Yes, you have to plan a little, but with many new models having ranges of 150 miles and over, he wonders what all the fuss is about.
With regenerative braking thrown in too (whereby friction energy from using the brakes is recovered and returned to the battery), you’ll often get more distance out of the vehicle than you were expecting.
People don’t like change,” says David of EVs, “but once you experience it, it’s a game changer. It’s the little things as well – no more changing the oil, checking the water. You realise it does enhance your lifestyle. Now I don’t know what I do without it.”