Electric Test Drive: What to Look for in an Electric Car

Electric Test Drive: What to Look for in an Electric Car

Posted 07.25.2012 in Articles by Dan

When it comes to a test drive we oftentimes go off our gut instinct and emotional attachment to a vehicle and fail to keep in mind that the purchase of a vehicle is a major investment. However, there should be a formulaic strategy to any test drive. Seeing how your car fits into your everyday life from a practical standpoint takes a more methodical approach to the way you test drive, and will result in a smarter purchase. Here is a checklist of the most important things to consider before, during, and after the electric car test drive to ensure the purchase of your vehicle is a sound decision.

1. Before you go off testing electric cars, ask yourself what you will be using the electric car for. Do you need a car to serve as a secondary vehicle for short trips and errands? Or are you looking to drive electric full-time for environmental and economical purposes? Considering the practical use of your vehicle can help paint a better picture of what you're looking for in your electric car. This will change certain aspects you will need to consider before the test drive, including the range of your vehicle per charge, cargo space, and interior amenities.

2. Once you see the car in person you're inclined to evaluate the car the same way you would during a typical test drive: exterior design cues, lighting, color and size. However, with an electric car you must also consider how the vehicle is charged, how long it takes to charge your vehicle, and the range you'll get per full charge. Keep in mind the practical use of your electric car before jumping to conclusions about how long that range needs to be. Ask about the process of charging you vehicle, what outlets can be used, and if a secondary power supply can or needs to be installed for a faster charge. If so, discuss the costs of a secondary power supply and instructions for installation. The price of the evaluation and the charging unit will be worked into the overall purchase with option to waive the procedure. Considering the different ways electric cars can be charged and comparing the prices for high power charging options can help you make a better decision about which electric car is right for your lifestyle.

3. Once you buckle up and begin the test drive, keep in mind how the drive feels physically. What are the ergonomic benefits of the steering wheel and seating? How responsive are the brakes, accelerator, and handling? Consider the dashboard display and interface: the gauges, the audio system, navigation system if available, and the economic driving display or gauge the vehicle offers. Two things separate the electric car from a typical test drive. First thing you'll notice is that the fuel gauge has been replaced with a battery life meter. Some models stick to the traditional needle gauge while others display the information digitally, and most models offer a gauge or display to help the driver know how efficiently he is driving.

4. One of the last things you may want to inquire about regard additional perks. Electric cars are all about cutting edge technology, so many electric models have extra tricks up their sleeves in the form of optional technology accessories that work to enhance your driving experience. The Smartcar has the smart iPhone app that gives you access to roadside assistance, navigation, and a car locator. The Nissan Leaf has the CARWINGS smartphone app, available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry that lets you check battery charge, initiate charging, see estimated driving range, and activate climate control from your smartphone. The low decibel level within the cabin is a noticeable change when test driving an electric car for the first time. Does the low noise level provide an environment that appeals to you? Benefits of low cabin noise include clearer audio quality, ease of conversation with other passengers, and better awareness of the driving environment around you for increased safety. Exploring the features, pricing, and usability of these options can also help to sway your decision.

5. After you have completed all the test drives you have planned to do and have made your decision to purchase the EV of your liking, hold off on it. The best tip for any new perspective EV purchaser is to rent the model that you are considering buying for a couple days to really see how it fits into your life. Renting an electric car from your local rental service may cost you over one hundred dollars for two or three days, but that is an investments worth determining if the larger investment of a new EV is going to suit your everyday needs. By having the model you plan on purchasing for a few days before actually going through with the EV investment allows for you to put the vehicle to the limits, assure yourself that it's the correct choice for you.

Test driving a vehicle takes more than thinking about how good it will look on your driveway. You need to consider the practical use of your vehicle and its integration into your everday life. Go with a more methodical approach to evaluating your vehicle, rather than going with your gut, and you will land a purchase that will prove more valuable in the long run.



Image (CC) jurvetson 


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Posts: 1
Re: Test Drive Checklist: What to Look for in an Electric Car
Reply #1 on : Mon October 15, 2012, 21:29:25
great article. lemme just say the app for Nissan Leaf needs work. App is slow and login sometimes doesn't work. You can do without the app but i'm happy with the Nissan Leaf. At first i thought i would just save money on gas, but forgot you don't need oil changes as well.

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