What you need to know before driving an electric vehicle

Electric vehicles (EVs) are on the rise - they now hold a 14% share of the UK’s new car market and more than 40% of models are now available as plug-ins. The transition to electric vehicles is key to helping us meet net zero targets, which is why in 2030 there’ll be a ban on selling new petrol or diesel cars within the UK. With electric vehicles becoming the norm in the future, we’ve highlighted some key things worth knowing below.

How to drive an electric car

Haven’t yet sat behind the wheel of an electric car? The good news is, there’s really not much difference in driving an electric car compared to a petrol or diesel car! However, there may be a couple of features that are a bit unfamiliar, which is why we’ve listed out some points that are handy to know before you set off on your first EV drive.

Electric cars don’t have any gears

Most electric vehicles only have a single gear, so there’s no need to switch gears with a clutch or to even have a gear stick. Instead of a gear stick you’ll likely find a button or a switch with the options ‘drive’, ‘park’ or ‘reverse’. EVs are basically a really simplified automatic as the car itself isn’t needing to work through the gears for you, because there’s only one gear! With just the accelerate and brake pedals, it’s very much a case of press and go.

The engine is so quiet, you might not realise it’s on

When you ignite the engine you might be used to hearing the engine roar and hum, but you’re not going to experience that with an EV. The engine is so quiet that there’s barely any noise made when they power up and set off. In fact, an artificial engine or revving sound could even be introduced in the future because of safety concerns for hard of hearing passers by.

There are different charging connector types

Unlike filling a car up with petrol or diesel, currently not every electric vehicle charging station will match the shape and type of connector or socket on the car you’re driving. However, it’s still very straightforward as most EVs have a Type 2 connector, and there’s a likelihood that all EV plug types will eventually be standardised. Type 1 connectors are normally found on older models like the Nissan Leaf (2010-2017) for example. Remember to check this out before your rental so you can best prepare - we encourage EV owners to write this in their vehicle’s listing description on Karshare.

You might also see that there are two sockets in the vehicle you’re driving. The extra charging slot basically gives your Type 1 or Type 2 charger a boost, charging at a faster rate when the combo is used.

There are rapid, fast or slow charging points

When it comes to charging, there are rapid, fast or slow charging options available dependent on the vehicle you’re driving.

Rapid chargers are usually found in petrol stations or motorway service stops. Fast chargers are the most easily found type and is the most common type of home charging point. Slow chargers are the three-pin charge points found in lamp posts in residential streets, and you could even use a standard home plug to charge the car overnight. Plugging it in directly to your home socket is more of a last resort where no other type of charging point is available.

EVs have a smaller range, so plan long journeys in advance

The average distance that an EV can drive on a full charge is approx 200 miles, but this varies dependent on the make and model. Because of this, long journeys will require some planning ahead if you’ve not driven that route in an EV before. Much like petrol or diesel, you can see the remaining battery life in the dashboard of the car so you know when it’s time to recharge. It’s worth noting that factors like air-con and heating, speed and cold weather can impact the car’s range.

After you’ve learnt which charging type the vehicle you’re driving has, you can use this to find the fastest ways to charge up on your journey. Providers such as Zap Map show available chargers across the country, along with the connector types available. There are even sharing economy apps like CoCharger and JustPark that allow you to rent and use someone’s charger at their address.

Rent an electric car on Karshare

Looking to rent an electric vehicle? We have a range of car owners sharing their EVs on Karshare that are ready to rent here. Whether you need it for cruising around the city in or maybe you’re wanting to trial an EV out before you buy, we’ve got you covered.