With petrol, diesel and hybrid cars due to be banished from UK showrooms from 2035, the reality of electric vehicle ownership is starting to set in.
Motorists are already thinking ahead with more than three quarters calling for the driving theory and practical tests to be adapted for electric cars now, according to new research.
That’s despite electric vehicles, which all have automatic transmissions and tend to be packed with hi-tech assistance systems, arguably being far easier to drive than a conventional motor with a manual gearbox and clutch.
Helping new drivers to go green: A poll of 2,000 people has found massive support for the government to make changes to the driving theory and practical test to include electric cars
Some 77 per cent of drivers polled by LV= General Insurance think UK driving tests should be updated for plug-in cars, according to a survey of over 2,000 motorists.
Of those quizzed, 150 were early adopters who already own electric cars. More than nine in ten of these respondents called for the test to have sections dedicated to EVs.
The insurer surveyed drivers after launching the first insurance product specifically for electric vehicles and their owners.
But despite upcoming ban on the sale of all new cars bar those powered entirely by batteries and an ever-growing interest in going green, the vast majority (87 per cent) of drivers polled said they still haven’t been behind the wheel of an electric car.
Some are now concerned about the differences between driving and owning one, with the insurer backing their call for both the theory and practical tests to be adapted so prospective motorists are prepared and feel comfortable driving an electric car as soon as they hit the road.
The driving test should be adapted to help drivers get used to…
– Dealing with driving ranges – 49%
– Noise difference – 46%
– Fully automated vehicle – 41%
– Difference in acceleration – 41%
– Difference in breaking speed – 28%
Source: As voted for by a poll of 2,000 drivers by LV+GI
This includes putting new drivers at easy with getting used to driving range, the lack of noise, fully-automated systems, instant acceleration and differences in braking.
The research also found that one in five drivers plan to never buy an electric car.
The main reasons being the driving range is too short for their needs according to a third of respondents, they are nervous about moving from a manual to an automatic car (8 per cent) and they believe electric cars aren’t as safe as traditional cars (5 per cent).
A further one in 10 drivers are not considering a move to electric because they’re nervous about driving a car which doesn’t make a noise.
Despite some being worried about switching to a zero emissions car, they are fundamentally easier to drive than traditional motors.
Almost half of the people quizzed said learners should be taught about limited driving ranges and how to charge an EV
Tom Clarke, head of Electric Vehicle Strategy at LV=GI, said UK drivers need to have a ‘greater understanding of electric cars’ in order to have the confidence to make the switch
According to the RAC: ‘Gears are invariably automatic, while regenerative brakes slow the car when you lift off the accelerator to top-up the batteries.
‘The result can be ‘one-pedal’ driving around town.’
It adds: ‘Electric motors produce their peak pulling power from a standstill.
‘That means there’s no need to rev the motor for swift acceleration, unlike a petrol or (to a lesser extent) diesel car.’
Tom Clarke, head of electric vehicle strategy at LV=GI said: ‘As the UK moves towards becoming net-zero [in 2050], UK drivers need to have a greater understanding of electric cars in order to have the confidence to make the switch.
‘The fact that nearly two-thirds of electric car drivers say taking their driving test in an electric car would have been a benefit to them highlights the reality that the driving test in its current form is no longer relevant for the new wave of ‘green’ drivers.
‘We understand that a driving test overhaul is a big change that cannot happen overnight but making small alterations to the theory test, or ensuring that certain ‘show me, tell me’ questions are adapted for electric car drivers will be a huge step towards encouraging future take-up.’
Over two in five said the theory test should also include sections regarding fully autonomous vehicles – despite the fact experts have said the technology is decades away
According to the DVSA’s latest figures, fewer than half of learners pass their theory and practical driving tests currently.
However, industry insiders have said the tests need to be updated to better prepare new drivers who are likely to have no choice but to drive an electric vehicle in the future.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, added: ‘Maximising the potential for electric cars means that the driving test needs to be modernised as soon as possible.
‘New drivers need to be able to access the skills required to use these new vehicles as safely and efficiently as possible.
‘Availability of electric car learner driving courses are very limited and financial support may be needed to spark interest in supplying them.
‘In our view it is vital that the government doesn’t forget the role of training in helping to get drivers to adopt new technology.’
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