What do I need to know as a first time electric car driver? | The Driven

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Hi Bryce – I’ll be borrowing an Ioniq EV and putting together a radio show/podcast about the experience of a complete newbie driving an EV, but I have a few questions to ask as a first-time EV driver:

  • What ways can I charge it/how fast does it charge on each method?
  • Do I need to carry any charging leads other than the one provided by the manufacturer?
  • How far will it go on a charge?
  • What if I run out of charge?
  • Are EVs different or difficult to drive/adapt to?

Natalie (3CR Beyond Zero Emissions ‘Science and Solutions’ program)

Hi Natalie – you’ve asked the first questions anyone driving an EV for the first time asks!

Having driven EVs for some years (on my third now, and about to buy my fourth), I can assure you the answers become second-nature to an EV owner (just like where the nearest petrol stations to one’s route become second-nature to ICE car drivers).

What ways can I charge it/how fast does it charge on each method?

There are three ways you can charge an EV, and each charges its battery (akin to filling the fuel tank) at different rates:

  1. Standard power point (slow = approximately 2kW). Rule of Thumb: divide the total kWh of the EV battery by two and that’s approximately the time in hrs it will take to charge that way. (Ioniq battery is 28kWh, so 28÷2 = 14h on a power point. (Hyundai quote around 12 hrs for the Ioniq charged this way, so it’s not a bad rule of thumb ….)
  2. Wall mounted home, office or public AC EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment): faster, but still in hrs. These generally charge at either 3.6 or 7.2kW. Applying the Rule of Thumb again: using a 7.2kW AC charge outlet to charge an Ioniq gives 28÷7 ≈ 4hrs. For a 3.6kW charge outlet, 28÷3.5 ≈ 8hrs. (BTW I rounded off 7.2 and 3.6 to 7 and 3.5 – makes it easier to do the maths in one’s head!)
  3. On the road: DC fast charger (IF available: not many now – especially in Victoria, but a network of 19 major route locations in Victoria due by end of year and many others are going in around Australia as I write). Ioniq can do 70kW maximum DC charge rate, so rule of thumb: 28÷70 ≈ 24 min to 80% (DC fast chargers usually stops at 80% – better for the battery). By the way, if it’s a 50kW rather than a 100kW DC charger, 28÷50 ≈ 34min to 80%.

Do I need to carry any charging leads other than the one provided by the manufacturer?

Multiple answers here.

  1. For DC fast-chargers – no, they all have leads.
  2. for older AC EVSEs – these are fitted with Type 1 plugs, so you will need an adaptor for using with the Ioniq, which like all new EVs has a Type 2 socket. (I keep just such an adaptor for when newer EVs come to visit me);
  3. for newer AC EVSEs – these are more and more often being fitted with Type 2 sockets only and no lead. For these will need you to carry a Type 2 to Type 2 lead.

In summary: for new EVs, I recommend carrying TWO leads in addition to the 3-pin plug portable EVSE that most are supplied with. These are:

  1. A type 2 charge socket to Type 2 car socket lead (come in 5m or 8m lengths – suggest 5m as less bulky to store in the boot);
  2. A short type 1 to type 2 adaptor lead for charging from old Type 1 EVSEs. (This one will become redundant in three to five years at a guess).

How far will it go on a charge?

Australian Government mandated test cycle is an old one that gives approximately 30% too high a figure. There are better ones available. New Euro one (called WLTP or Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure) is an improvement, but still about 10 – 12% too high.

The best test cycle that gives reasonably accurate ‘real-world’ driving ranges is the American EPA test cycle. The Ioniq under the American EPA test cycle gives 200km as a realistic, achievable range for it in most circumstances.

What if I run out of charge?

      • The EV will give you LOTS of warnings before you do!
      • There is usually a ‘reserve’ capacity incorporating a ‘turtle’ mode (reduced power etcetera) below zero to get to a charger;
      • Power points are usually pretty easy to find (and easier than a fuel can and petrol station!);
      • If all else fails, there are now roadside EV rescue charging solutions coming onto the market and which the various Auto Associations can send to help you out.

Are EVs different or difficult to drive/adapt to?

No. Some are even built to feel imperceptibly different to ICE performance (for example the Renault Zoe).

In general though, you quickly adapt to the EV differences like instant acceleration, smoother driving experience (i.e. without the explosions/noise from the motor blowing up petrol in the cylinders!), charging at home instead of finding petrol stations (you rapidly adapt to realise you REALLY don’t miss that!) and using regenerative braking to slow the car rather than the brakes.

(Which BTW are still there – despite some questions I have had re the use of the term ‘1 pedal driving’ being applied to EVs & people thinking EVs don’t have brake pedals).

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