Can you learn to drive in an electric car?
Electric cars are taking the UK’s roads by storm. The government’s ban on the sale of new petrol & diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) cars from 2030 is one of the reasons for this acceleration. Car makers are now placing much greater importance on electric and hybrid models.
With this massive increase in EVs over the last few years, a few questions have arisen. Including “can you learn to drive in an electric car?”
Yes, of course, you can. Whilst electric learner cars may not be as frequently sighted as ICE learner cars, you can have the option to learn to drive and do your test in an EV!
For more detailed information, keep on reading our guide to learning to drive in an electric car below.
Can I learn to drive an electric car?
Yes, anyone can learn to drive an electric car. But the main thing to consider is that if you do so, you’ll receive an automatic licence. This means you won’t learn how (or be legally allowed) to drive a car with a manual transmission.
Although this isn’t a massive issue considering the government's 2030 plan. There’ll be a massive growth of automatic cars on the roads over the coming years.
Can you drive an electric car on an automatic licence?
As we mentioned, when you learn to drive and take your test in an EV you’ll get an automatic licence.
This licence allows you to drive any car with an automatic transmission - whether that’s an EV or an automatic petrol/diesel car.
Why learn to drive in an EV?
There are plenty of reasons why more learners are choosing to learn in an EV every year.
The biggest draw of an EV is their eco-friendly credentials. Electric power outputs zero tailpipe emissions which reduces your carbon footprint. Perfect for inner city driving too as you’re not polluting the air.
Easier to learn
Another main reason why learners are flocking to L-plated EVs is that it’s easier to learn in an EV. There are fewer steps to learn as there’s no gear changing and no clutch control - just a brake pedal and an accelerator. Learners don’t have to fret about stalling in stressful situations either.
Learners don’t have to worry about biting points or hill starts as you just have to put your foot down, and most EVs help you out when taking off up a hill.
Drive through the city
The world is your playground with an electric car, as you don’t have to pay any charges for inner-city driving. EVs are currently exempt from paying to enter London’s Congestion Charge, ULEZ & LEZ as well as Clean Air Zones across the country.
This means you’re more likely to learn in these environments, giving you some much-needed city experience before you pass your test.
Read our guide on EV ULEZ & Congestion Charge exemption for more information.
Main differences between learning in an EV and traditional ICE cars
There are a few main differences when it comes to learning to drive in an electric car. Although you won’t have clutch control and gear changing to consider, there are other aspects you’ll need to learn that manual learners don’t.
Electric cars have instant access to torque. This equates to super-fast acceleration, even for smaller motors with less power.
Everyday electric hatchbacks can beat most petrol and diesel cars off the mark. So this is something that learners need to keep in mind. The throttle is very responsive so as soon as you put your foot down, you’re off.
It’s therefore very important for learners to understand this as a matter of safety.
Another big difference in driving an electric car is regenerative braking. This is a clever system that all EVs use in at least some capacity.
Essentially, when you decelerate or apply the brake pedal, the electric motor regains energy that’s usually lost when you slow down. This energy is stored in the battery and then turned into electric power when needed.
This is a process that all EV drivers need to understand for efficient driving. If you don’t make the most of this clever system that runs in the background, you’ll find yourself having to recharge more often.
Learner drivers should understand how to use regenerative braking safely and efficiently as part of their everyday experience.
This is a system that’s similar to regenerative braking but is only available in certain models. One-pedal driving allows you to accelerate and slow down using just one pedal.
Press the accelerator to speed up, or take your foot off the pedal for light braking. One-pedal driving is based on regenerative braking and it's typically activated with a button.
Learners will have to understand how this works and how to safely use it as it’s not a replacement for standard braking.
Charging is another brand-new element when it comes to driving an EV. Most learners have probably visited many petrol stations with their family and friends over the year. But most people have never visited a charging point, let alone had to use one.
Charging your car and operating charging points is another thing you’ll have to learn when driving an EV. You can have multiple cables as well as charge types (from slow to rapid) so it’s important to understand how it all works.
Learners will also be taught charging tips and best practices for the most optimised driving experience, including regularly charging from 20%-80% instead of 0%-100%.
Another thing to consider in an EV is how quiet they are. Electric motors produce almost zero noise, even when you put your foot down. This means there’s an added danger for pedestrians who use audio cues when crossing roads.
Understanding that pedestrians may not be able to hear you helps you plan for safer driving.
You’ll also have to understand your driving range, what it means and what affects it. Your car may say it has 200 miles left, but if you’re putting your foot down whilst blasting the heating you may get less than that.
Learners need to understand how driving range works so they can plan ahead.
Different dash symbols
As there are completely different systems at play in an EV, there will be some new dashboard symbols that learners will have to familiarise themselves with.
Can you take a driving test in an electric car?
Just as you can take lessons in an electric car, you can also do your test in an EV. There may be some minor differences, but most of the test will likely be very similar.
New “show me tell me”
Your driving test may differ mostly in the “show me tell me” section.
You might get some EV-specific “show me tell me” questions. This can include showing how to use an EV charging point or explaining charge points in an area you’re travelling to.