Handling the weight
More subtle than the powertrain differences, is the way an EV feels compared to an ICE rolling down the road.
An EV will usually have a large and heavy high-voltage battery pack slung between the axles. This has a couple of notable impacts on ride and handling.
First, the length of the battery means the wheelbase (the length between front and rear wheels) is usually quite long for the overall size of the car. That can make the ride a bit smoother but the cornering a bit less nimble.
Putting so much weight down low also means a lower centre of gravity, which is the holy grail for car engineers. That aids the vehicle’s cornering prowess.
But all that battery weight means EVs are usually pretty heavy. Many weigh well over 2.0-tonnes - making it harder to provide a worthy compromise between agility and comfort.
A very important bonus of having a long wheelbase is increased interior room. Get in the rear seat of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, for instance, and you’ll see what we mean. Sprawling space galore!
Them’s the brakes
I know we said the essential EV driving experience was even simpler than an ICE, but it can get a bit more complicated if you drill down into the braking experience.
That’s because when you lift off the accelerator pedal, the electric motor regenerates rather than expells electricity, and produces a braking effect that slows the car - even if you don’t hit the brake pedal.
Don’t worry, EVs do have traditional friction brakes as well. In fact, when you use the brake pedal in an EV, you may notice it feels a bit wooden. That’s because the two braking systems are working together and there’s lots of electronics controlling the transition between the two.
The regenerative braking effect is used in EVs in a number of ways, but in every instance, it puts some electricity back into the battery pack.
Some makers offer you the chance to tune the level of ‘regen’ you want when you lift off the throttle. Some even allow you to manipulate the level of regen via a dial on the dashboard or paddles on the steering wheel.
They can be used a bit like the gear paddles of a traditional auto transmission. Raise the regen to help brake for a corner and lower it to help accelerate out the other side.
You can even set up an EV for what’s called one-pedal driving. You literally only use the throttle pedal and rely on regenerative braking to slow and even pull up the vehicle when you lift-off.
It feels a bit weird at first and some brands set it up it more aggressively than others. But it does work. A good idea is to get the feel of it in area like an empty car park before trying it out in traffic.
It’s all part of the same-but-different experience that is driving an electric vehicle. Enjoy!