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11 Ways Driving an EV Is Different From an ICE Vehicle


Electric cars are not simply electrified versions of their gas-powered equivalents. As a result, you may need to adjust how you drive, and you will certainly have to adjust how you go about fueling up your ride.

More than likely, none of these differences are deal-breakers. Hopefully not, considering how gas-powered vehicles are on their way out in the long term. Most of these differences are positive. So let’s get to it.

1. You Can Fuel Up at Home

The first question many people often ask about electric vehicles is whether it’s easy to charge around town. Where gas stations are located matters a great deal when you drive a car with a combustion engine. Isn’t the same true of electric cars?

For many EV owners, the location of charging stations isn’t something they think about often. However, if you have a single-family home, you can install a charging station where you live. This is where many do the vast majority of their refueling.

2. Leave Home Daily With a Full “Tank”

If you plug in your car every time you get home, the next time you leave, you have a full charge. A few hours is generally all you need to top up from your previous trip. If your car is completely empty, it can still fill up overnight.

This means when you head to the office or drop a kid off at school, you no longer have to plan trips to fuel up into your commute. Of course, this only applies to EV owners who have the option to charge at home.

3. Don’t “Fill Up” Unless You Need To

Technically, it isn’t a good idea to actually keep your car fully charged. Setting a limit of around 80% is healthier for the battery. Lithium-ion batteries degrade faster when kept at a high state of charge for an extended period. They don’t particularly like being left at an extremely low state of charge, either.

In most newer EVs, 80% still provides hundreds of miles of range. This is more than enough for all but the most brutal of commutes. You may even be able to visit friends an hour or two away and make it back without having to stop somewhere to charge.

4. You May Need to Own a Smartphone

There are numerous ways to pay for the gas you put into your car. You can swipe a card. Or you can head inside the station and pay cash. You can probably write a check if you want.

At electric charging stations, you may not be able to use a credit card. You definitely can’t use cash. Most charging networks prefer you use a smartphone app if they don’t outright require it. Some give you the option of an RFID card tied to your account.

5. You Can Charge for Free Around Town

Chances are, you’ve never rolled up at a gas station that was giving away free fuel. But there are many charging stations where you can charge for free. Some are part of EV charging networks, like Chargepoint, where the business owner has agreed to cover the cost of the electricity to attract customers. Some networks are experimenting with other business models, such as providing free electricity while showing you ads.

Others are simply the same charging station you might find at home, such as those by ClipperCreek, that someone has installed in a public place. These don’t even require an account for you to activate. Just plug in your car and walk away.

6. You Can Produce Your Own Fuel

Free public charging is only part of the story. With the right investments, you can produce your own fuel at home indefinitely. With enough solar panels, you can entirely offset the cost of charging your car. With batteries and patience, you can charge your car entirely using solar power.

The options aren’t limited to solar. Technology has reached a point where wind turbines are affordable enough to install at home if you live in a windy enough area. With the right know-how, you can even generate electricity from a stream going by the land you live on. Also, as the cost of batteries falls and more types of batteries become available, it will get easier to store enough energy to “refill” your car.

7. You Regain Energy When You Hit the Brakes

Most electric cars regain some energy whenever you hit the brakes, using what’s known as regenerative braking. Your car does this by using kinetic energy to charge the battery. It’s not a lot, mind, but there are some circumstances where it really helps. For example, going down a steep mountain can reach the bottom with more energy than you had when you began. That’s a scenario that simply doesn’t happen with a gas-powered car.

This functionality also enables your car to charge while being towed. Someone can tow your fully discharged vehicle for a few miles and, in the process, leave you with enough juice to reach the nearest charger on your own.

8. You Get Better Range in the City

Stop-and-go traffic is a pain. In gas-powered cars, it’s also wasteful. Your engine is pumping away, but you aren’t actually going anywhere. You’re expending much of your energy accelerating and braking, resulting in terrible mileage. Cars with an internal combustion engine prefer to be on the highway.

Electric cars prefer to travel at slower speaks. As a result, the situation is flipped. Your car is more fuel efficient when driving around local roads than speeding along on the freeway. Your max range will drop significantly when driving at 70 miles per hour compared to 45. And thanks to regenerative braking, stop-and-go traffic comes with an upside.

9. Goodbye Oil Changes and Engine Maintenance

Most cars on the road today require routine oil changes. Unfortunately, this involves spending money and having to fit a trip to the mechanic into your schedule.

Electric cars don’t have internal combustion engines and, as a result, don’t require oil changes. They also do without all other engine-related maintenance and the myriad of related parts. Consider catalytic converters—something EVs don’t even have.

Your electric car isn’t maintenance-free. You still need to maintain tires, windshield wipers, cabin filters, and light bulbs, but that’s about it.

10. Sit Idle With a Clear Conscious

Sitting in a car that isn’t moving doesn’t seem like it releases that much pollution, but it does. Even though your wheels aren’t turning, your engine is still running, releasing smog into the air.

Electric vehicles don’t release pollution. As for the pollution released when energy gets produced, that’s less of an issue, too, because an EV uses very little power sitting still.

11. Factor in Charging When Planning Your Trip

When planning a road trip, you know you will need to stop for gas at some point. You can generally assume there will be a gas station every few miles, and your car takes only a few minutes to fill up.

Charging stations aren’t yet as plentiful, so you may need to alter your route to reach the next charger. You also need to factor in charge times. A stop at a fast charger can range from 15 minutes to over an hour, depending on how quickly your vehicle can charge and the speed of the charger you’re using.

EVs and ICE Vehicles Have More in Common Than Not

If you know how to drive a car already, you don’t need to get a new license to drive an electric one. They’re different, but not that different. With the exception of Teslas, you still toggle lights, adjust mirrors, and open the glove compartment in largely the same way. When you need to pump air into your tires, you already know what to do.

Chances are, understanding the different ways to charge your vehicle will take more time than learning how to drive it.

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