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Driving an electric vehicle vs a traditional car – Getting used to the difference

Getting EV-ready.

As a driver, you might be motivated by the desire to reduce carbon emissions, or the long-term cost savings you could gain from using electricity instead of petrol, to make the switch to an electric vehicle.  While you might think it will be similar to driving a traditional car, there are a couple of differences in the experience that you will have to get used to with an EV.

Have a brake to regenerate

Electric cars are efficient in the way they operate. Most EVs regain some energy whenever you hit the brakes, in what is known as regenerative braking.

When you take your foot off the accelerator, the electric motor in an EV turns into a generator to recover much of the forward momentum as electricity. This power is then diverted back into the batteries instead of wasting it as heat.

Regenerative braking results in a feature called one-pedal driving (OPD) in many EVs. Unlike traditional cars which coast when you lift your foot from the accelerator pedal, OPD allows EV drivers to control the speed of deceleration using the accelerator pedal.

Needless to say, this can take some getting used to. By modulating how much you lift off the accelerator, you affect the amount of regenerative braking for your EV. If you remove your foot fully, the maximum amount of regenerative braking is generated, and your EV will come to a gradual stop.

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One-pedal driving can be found in EVs such as the BMW iX

One-pedal braking can reduce the wear and tear on your brake pad while increasing your EV range through regenerative braking. However, depending on the EV, fully lifting off the accelerator pedal can slow down your car quicker than expected.

Do note that the use of the brake pedal is still needed for emergency stops.

If you are not used to it, OPD can also result in a harsher ride for you and your passengers. Modulating the pressure on the accelerator pedal will require practice to ensure your drive goes smoothly. If you prefer not to have this, some EVs do allow you to switch the OPD mode on and off.

BMW EV - no exhaust fumes

Quick and quiet

The other difference you will experience is their performance on the road. Most ICE vehicles are faster in that they have a higher maximum speed than EVs. However, EVs are quicker off the mark as they have instant torque.

Unlike the power delivery in ICE cars which gradually builds up as the engine revs, EVs deliver maximum torque from a standstill, making acceleration smooth and quick.  Thus, in built-up urban cities like Singapore, you are likely to reach your destination in a shorter time with an EV.

All that instant torque however means that EVs do not produce the same noise and drama that traditional cars have when revs increase. If you are new to EVs, the first thing to hit you is just how quiet they are. As no fuel is burned and no exhaust fumes emitted, they are much quieter than ICE cars. This is where some car enthusiasts may comment on the lack of driving feeling and connection with the car when driving EVs. Others, though, prefer the quietness and smoothness of an EV for a more relaxing drive.

When driven at low speeds, other road users and pedestrians may not notice an EV until it is very close to them. In many cities around the world, it is thus compulsory for EVs to have an Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) to alert pedestrians of their presence.


Driving an electric vehicle offers up a different experience compared to driving a traditional car. From regenerative braking to one-pedal driving, to the smooth and silent operation of EVs, there are unique features that take some getting used to. However, once you adapt to these differences, you will find that driving an EV can be more efficient and even more relaxing than driving a petrol-powered car. With the push towards cleaner energy and the phasing out of ICE cars, getting EV-ready now will put you ahead of the game in terms of future-proofing your driving experience.