Driving an EV for the first time
Meet Maddy - a Marketing intern from Horsham. She’s a recent English graduate from Southampton University, has been driving for around four years, and has only ever driven a manual car.
We wanted to see if someone completely new to electric vehicles (and the public charging world!) had any reservations about making the electric switch and if driving electric for the day would change anything. With an Electrocard and the Electroverse app in hand, she set off from Wimbledon.
Let’s get plugged in…
A few questions before you start your electric driving day...
How long have you been driving, and do you have a car at the moment?
I have been driving for about four years now. My little 05 Toyota Yaris has been in the family for 12 years or so. It has been passed down from my Mum to my sister and eventually to me!
Generally, do you like driving?
As soon as I could drive, I felt I had gained something I had lacked my whole life. I love my little car, though we’ve had our ups and downs (its battery dying on multiple occasions being some of my funniest yet most stressful experiences). Still, it's provided me with many unforgettable moments. I live in a small town in West Sussex, and with not a lot going on for an adventurous teenager, learning to drive was like gaining freedom.
What don't you like about driving?
I don’t particularly enjoy watching as the price of petrol slowly increases. When I was a student, I'd drive to and from university - the journey itself was only about an hour and a half, but my bank account would often struggle with the expense.
Do you have any preconceived ideas about what driving electric will be like?
I have heard stories about how different EVs are to drive, and having never even driven an automatic, I’m excited to see how powerful and different this car will feel underfoot. Plus, already having been a passenger in a Polestar, I'm also looking forward to the comfortable and advanced interior I know comes guaranteed with EVs.
Are you worried about using the public charging network for the first time?
I am a little nervous, however; I think because I'm young and have been brought up with technology, apps and other technical charging methods will be pretty self-explanatory, especially now with apps like Octopus Electroverse simplifying the process further. Older generations, however, I imagine I might struggle with the complexity of it.
What do you think will be the main challenges to driving/charging an EV?
At times my brain can be a little chaotic, so planning ahead will be my greatest concern. At the moment, it’s easy to jump in my car and trust that an easy-to-use petrol station is right around the corner.
What will you be driving?
I'll be driving the Polestar 2 and Volkswagen ID.5.
You're back from your drive day!
How did you find it? Was it easier than you had expected?
I find driving any new car a little stressful; there are a lot of features to get used to, and driving a big, beautiful and rather expensive EV around London's tight, busy roads could have been extremely stressful, however, I found the Polestar 2 to be reasonably intuitive.
Though it took me a little while to get used to the sensitivity of the car (braking, accelerating), generally it was a smooth and comfortable ride. Plus, I liked the idea that if it were my car, these features could have been altered - I found that with an electric it’s all about your preferences, which is great; you can’t change the clutch height on a manual with such ease.
When I was out in the countryside of Surrey I switched to the Volkswagen ID.5. This EV was particularly wide and I felt a bit intimidated - a close brush with a tractor was one of my least favourite moments. The gears were behind the wheel and had a slightly awkward, curved mechanism to them, unlike the gear-stick equivalent in the Polestar which I preferred. Whilst the ID.5’s interior was spacious and fun, with funky purple lights in its crevices, the Polestar was simply cosier and more practical, with a larger windscreen which made seeing much easier (something I consider rather essential when driving).
I think if I had to summarise the two, the ID.5 is the spaceship car you see in advertisements and is great for a passenger who wants extra legroom, whereas the Polestar brings you back down to reality: its user-friendly technology inviting you to enjoy the powerful and fun side of EVs. Relatively though, both cars were easy drives, and I enjoyed the experience as a whole.
How did driving electric differ from driving a fuel-powered car? Did anything surprise you?
The silence was unnerving at first! No revving noises to reassure you that the engine is on; just simply take your foot off the brake and go. I got used to it pretty quickly and soon revelled in the power of putting my foot down.
As I had been a passenger in the Polestar 2 before, nothing in particular about that car took me by surprise - however, before driving the ID.5 I hadn’t thought about how different EVs might be. I was shocked by how quickly I gained a preference, as I assumed all EVs would be very similar.
As someone who has never charged an EV before, how did you find the public charging experience? And where did you charge?
On the drive, I tried out IONITY, Source London, ESB Energy and MER chargers - I would have to say that charging, in general, was reasonably simplistic. Although, you are reliant on other EV owners being considerate. On my driving day, there was an incident where every IONITY charger was being used at Cobham services - one woman was sitting at 99%, refusing to move until she had charged to 100%, meaning we were waiting for around 15 minutes. Very unhelpful.
Did the Electroverse app help you? If yes, which features, in particular, would you recommend to a new EV driver?
The Octopus Electroverse app made things nice and easy. For anyone new to the EV world, I’d suggest utilising its internal map to help you find nearby available charging points, as it provides real-time updates for charger availability.
After your drive day, would you be tempted to make the switch?
As soon as electric cars become more affordable, I will happily make the switch. I think it won’t be long until the EV world becomes more accessible.
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