EVs Should Not Imitate ICE Car Characteristics

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Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1656459884234 Evtraits FeaturedI’m the only writer in Motorist’s editorial team to believe that manufacturers should stop trying to make their electrified offerings behave like their petrol-powered counterparts.

There are some subtle differences when you are perched behind the wheel of an EV. The lack of noise for example, and also the instantaneous torque when you first plant your foot on the loud (is that going to be a misnomer in our EV future?) pedal. These differences stem, obviously, from the fact that propulsion is created very differently in an ICE engine versus a modern electric motor.

Simulated Driving Characteristics

In fact, this isn’t even the first time that manufacturers have artificially added traits to the driving characteristics of their offerings. When the torque converter automatic gearbox was initially engineered, the lack of a clutch, replaced by the aforementioned torque converter, meant that engine power was never fully disconnected from the wheels.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1656459952638 1656459952638What this means is that if your foot isn’t on the brakes, power will still be sent to the wheels, and your car will automatically creep forwards. But the later CVT transmissions and DCTs gearboxes, which you will find fitted to most many modern cars right now, function very differently from the torque converter automatic. They are able to fully disconnect drive to the wheels. Creep functionality has been artificially programmed into these transmissions so that the users are not weirded out by an automatic car that doesn’t roll forwards on its own.

But this comfort “spoon-feeding” needs to stop.

Accentuating The EV Characteristics

There’s no drive to disconnect in an EV - if you need to move, current is pulsed through the motor contacts, and forward propulsion is the end result. At a standstill, the car recognises that kinetic energy does not need to be dispensed at that present moment, so no electric energy is wasted unnecessarily.

When you lift off the throttle, the car uses the electric motor as a generator to recoup energy, which can then be reused later on for acceleration. Modern EVs are built to function with regenerative braking, with it playing a significant role in achieving the range estimates the manufacturer claims the car would do.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1656459968650 1656459968650If EVs are touted as the legitimate way forwards, shouldn’t we embrace the EV-specific traits? In many converted EVs, where range can be a pressing issue due to the lack of dedicated space for a full-sized battery pack, creep functionality isn’t an option - it just doesn’t exist. And regenerative braking? You can’t fully turn that off too.

Unfortunately, ground-up EVs, with their larger electrical capacities, afford carmakers to pander to the comfort zones of the masses, intentionally allowing their machines to run outside of the most efficient parameters just so that drivers can feel at home. In these cars, automakers give you the option of toggling creep mode on or off, and even allow you to switch regenerative braking off completely.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1656460016524 1656460016524Which I feel is a complete travesty. Contrary to popular belief, most modern high powered EVs are completely unhinged, and really way too overpowered for practical use on our roads, and pushing them hard, with the instant torque delivery, will get you in all kinds of trouble (both with the law, and also for the potential of skirmishes with street furniture).

It is this savagery that makes these cars decently fun to drive. The raw torque, for me anyways, goes some way into making up for the lack of sound. There’s a perverse fun in attempting to finesse the throttle of these vehicles in heavy traffic, and also playing little games with yourself as you attempt to bed in the regenerative braking from high speeds to close-to-standstill, modulating the rate of deceleration by manipulating the throttle position.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1656460038219 1656460038219There’s definitely a sense of satisfaction when you manage to properly feed in the energy recuperation from slightly sketchy speeds to a complete standstill smoothly and without using the friction brakes. Again, it’s a whole different way of operating a motor vehicle, and if it is the future, why shouldn’t we all be forced to recalibrate to this sort of driving?

I’d be honest, the regenerative braking does rape the brake pedal of feedback in most modern EVs. Which can be unnerving when you’re flicking the car through a series of winding, hilly roads at erm…legal speeds. But there are signs that manufacturers can engineer their way out of this issue, with brake blending becoming ever more advanced, to the point where some electric cars actually inspire more confidence on the anchors than even some of the hottest ICE hatchbacks.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1656460040727 1656460040726Which then really begs the question - why are we still allowing manufacturers to replicate the ICE experience in an electrified future? I don’t think there was a point in history when humans initially transitioned to internal combustion from the horse-drawn carriage, that our forefathers complained about how their new self-propelled daily driver doesn’t have the power delivery of a horse. So why should it be any different now?

But then again, times are different. With the “cancel culture” paraded by the Gen Zs, and with all the political correctness and government bureaucracy, it may be a long time before all EVs are allowed to embrace their unique traits. Which, as I mentioned above, is a real travesty indeed.

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