11 unique features found in modern electric vehicles

A woman sitting at a table and working on a laptop while a Hyundai Ioniq6 car charges next to her

Toby Hagon

Posted September 04, 2023

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to transition to an electric vehicle (EV) just yet, here are just some of the things an EV can do that petrol cars simply can’t (or don’t), including ‘dog mode’.

Electric vehicle tech is reshaping cars – literally.

Electric motors are much smaller than petrol engines, allowing designers more freedom with what they put in the car and where it goes.

Anyone who’s popped the bonnet of a Tesla will find the additional ‘frunk’ much handier than a chunk of metal surrounded by hoses and pipes powering an internal combustion engine (ICE).

With the added advent of over-the-air software updates, it brings the ability to regularly tweak functionality and add features without the need of a mechanic.

Next time you’re window-shopping for your next car, consider if it has any of these funky features.


the front boot of a kia niro

Many EVs have a 'front trunk' or 'front boot' for extra storage space. Image: Supplied.

Front boots

Tesla calls it the frunk, or front trunk, although Kia prefers the froot, for front boot. Either way, many EVs have enough space under the bonnet for a small storage area. Yep, you don’t have to buy a supercar to store things under the bonnet! It may not be enough to swallow a week’s worth of shopping, but it could be handy for storing charging cables or valuables you don’t want rollicking around the big boot at the back.

Powering up

Over-the-air software updates aren’t unique to EVs, although they were pioneered by Tesla – and EVs can yield the biggest benefits. Fresh software can not only add fun features and additional trinkets in the cabin - it can also make your EV more efficient, more powerful and easier to live with. Tesla has made regular tweaks to its cars to improve efficiency just by playing with 1s and 0s remotely. It often means they can travel further between charges – or even charge faster. Newcomer Polestar offers a power-up upgrade for its 2 Dual Motor. While it costs extra, it can add 50kW to the output of the two electric motors, in turn boosting acceleration. Expect more software-focused driving and charging improvements from EVs as engineers work out how to better utilise the existing hardware. 

One-pedal driving

Electric motors don’t just make an EV move forward, they can reverse the flow of electrons to create electricity as the car is decelerating. Such regenerative braking means that a carefully driven EV can theoretically be piloted without touching the brake pedal. While it may not be practical in all situations, it’s at least a novelty and can create some little driving challenges. A feature like this however, should not be relied upon to do the braking for you, as you should always drive safely and cautiously.

Power your house 

Bidirectional charging or V2G allows the car to send electricity to an external source such as your house or the electricity grid. As well as the practicalities of keeping the lights on in a blackout it also delivers the potential to make money from your car. Imagine being able to power your house overnight using energy stored from your solar system during the day, or even selling electricity back to the grid.


Learn how JET Charge makes EV charging at home easy and convenient | RACV

Tailor your motor sound

Silence is one of the appeals of an electric car, but not all car makers want pure serenity. Many allow owners to add often futuristic sounds to their vehicles to simulate an electric motor doing its best impression of a Mars Rover. Porsche makes it all Dr Who with the optional sound for the Taycan while Genesis even allows a mock petrol engine sound for its GV60. Others amplify the natural sound of the electric motor... or you can just stick with silence.

Dog mode

Running the air-conditioning when the car is parked is one bonus of many modern EVs, something Tesla exploits beautifully with its Model Y and Model 3 vehicles. It’s even invented ‘dog mode’ that not only keeps your pooch cool, but also puts a notice on the sizeable infotainment screen to inform passers-by that your four-legged friend isn’t cooking in the heat of the cabin. Clever stuff. 

Remote starting

Many EVs with connected smartphone apps can be remote started to allow the cabin to heat or cool before you slide back inside. While many petrol cars can do the same, they can produce emissions while sitting idle and create a hazard for closed environments without much ventilation (such as garages) - one reason Toyota limits the remote idle time to 10 minutes. No such issues with an EV. Dial up that toasty warmness – and even switch on the seat and steering wheel heating as well while you’re at it. 


tesla model y

Tesla's Dog Mode can help keep your pups cool in the car. Image: Supplied.

No keys or start button 

When you want a petrol car to go, you need to first turn a key or push a button to get the fuel flowing and controlled explosions happening. But EVs are ready to go once the electricity is switched on. Some, including Tesla and Polestar, do without that additional step. They simply look for evidence of a bum on a seat and that the person has authority to operate the vehicle, something often given via near-field-communication from their smartphone. 

Adjusting the speed remotely 

Electric control makes it easier to adjust performance and speed parameters, something EVs do well. Tesla allows you to pre-set a maximum top speed and you can even remotely monitor the speed of the vehicle in real time. All of which is handy for keeping an eye on novice drivers. 

Stealthily silent take-offs 

Ever tried to sneak out of the house early one morning only to have the sound of the engine firing up wake your better half and get the dog barking? That’s something you don’t have to worry about with an EV. Provided it doesn’t have a low-speed warning sound (many EVs allow you to turn it off) then you can whisk out of the garage almost silently. 

Power a campsite 

Hyundai and Kia both have vehicle-to-load functions for some of their EVs, such as the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. The addition of a standard household power outlet means any 240V device can be run from the car. It could be charging a laptop, or some power tools, or even keeping a campsite running for the night. Sure beats a noisy generator! 


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