How different are electric cars to drive than their petrol or diesel counterparts?
Our reporter Adam Flinn has been finding out.
I’ve always liked the idea of electric cars. They’re cheap to run and obviously much better for the environment, but it has always seemed the main stumbling blocks have been the initial cost and how long they take to charge.
Test Drive the Future was a good chance to find out a bit more about them, and I had the opportunity to take out a BMW i3 onto the streets of Oxford to see what it is like to drive.
The first thing I noticed was how quiet it is. I pressed the start button and didn’t think anything had happened, but I tested the accelerator pedal and sure enough it moved away.
It’s a very smooth ride as well. You just seem to glide along the roads and this particular model had surprisingly good acceleration. A lack of an engine didn’t seem to affect performance in any way.
The biggest difference I found was having to change the way I slowed down. In my petrol car I can slow down gradually as I approach a set of traffic lights, coming to a gentle stop. In this however when I took my foot off the throttle the car stopped almost instantly, causing a bumpy ride for my two passengers.
That’s the sort of thing you’d quickly get used to though, and overall I found it to be very easy and extremely comfortable to drive.
Going back to my earlier concerns, I was surprised to learn that you can charge the car to around 80 per cent from a rapid charger in just 20 minutes. These are the ones you can often find at motorway services, so would be useful if you are making a long journey.
From the mains at home it would take around six hours to charge fully, which wouldn’t be a problem to do overnight, or if you just top it up after each trip.
The initial cost is still off-putting however. The starting price for the i3 is around the £32,000 mark, and even with the Government grant of around £4,500 you get at the moment for buying an electric car is still a noticeable amount of money.
Cheaper cars are available on the market, and as the technology improves the prices will likely come down in the future. With the incredibly low fuel costs, it’s certainly worth seriously considering electric when buying your next car.