I have test driven many cars—both conventional and electric. If you have your eye on an EV and are ready to test drive one, here are some important things to look for when determining whether an EV will work well for you.
First, ask the dealer to show you how the regenerative braking works to help restore battery charge, and practice driving to maximize its benefits. Sometimes regenerative braking will perform better than the formal rating indicates. For example, the Kia Optima is conservatively listed with a range of 29 miles all electric, but at times I was able to get 35 miles, and once even up to 40 miles. Truth! This was in stop-and-go traffic, which electric cars love.
Second, after you get a good idea of the EV’s fuel economy and how it operates in eco-mode, let it rip—carefully, of course. If the speed limit is 65 mph, see how well the car goes from zero to 60mph. Acceleration is important. But don’t be a lead foot, as it’ll only drain your miles per gallon.
Take time to read the car’s manual and note any special features. Try the ones that interest you and that might make your drive smoother.
If you like the initial performance and want to give the EV a serious test, ask the dealership about a loan for a few days. Definitely charge the car every night, while you have it, for the best fuel economy. Then you can really check out the performance and any special features—which are probably numerous.