Sunday, May 1, 2011

Driving an electric car

Driving an electric car is a very different experience to using a conventional (combustion engine) vehicle. Forward drive is usually selected in much the same way as in an automatic – and another similarity is that there is no clutch pedal.

On depressing the accelerator, an electric car initially moves in almost total silence, which can be a little disconcerting. As the speed picks up, the small amount of 'engine' noise that can be heard is drowned out by wind and tyre noise, which become more noticeable as the speed increases.Most electric vehicles have excellent acceleration and high torque (especially at lower speeds) and are more than capable of holding their own in city-driving conditions. Although some models are designed as city cars and are speed limited to around 40-50 mph, most of the newer high quality models can be easily reach 60-70 mph on a motorway.

Electric cars can also be high performance vehicles – the Tesla roadster is capable of 130 mph and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds!

Current electric cars have a range and performance that is adequate for many driving applications including: city driving, commuting, regular drive cycles (such as delivery routes), short range trips (up to 100 miles per day) and where only zero or low emission vehicles are allowed access. As a result, electric cars are most suited for use as private cars for city use, for commuting trips, in commercial fleets (for small loads), and as company 'pool' cars.

Electric vehicles are zero-emission at point of use. However, emissions are produced during the generation of electricity, the amount depending on the method of generation. Therefore, the emissions need to be considered on a lifecycle basis so as to include power station emissions.