Our EVs: Nissan Leaf, Tesla

Driving Experience: EVs vs Gas Powered Cars

Our EVs: Nissan Leaf, Tesla
The garages in Georgia are HUGE!!

Everyone who knows me knows I love our electric cars (EVs)—love, love love! Yes, that whole driving for free on sunshine thing! But there is something else…

I’ve primarily written about having EVs from an environmental and cost viewpoint. However, after renting gas powered cars on a couple of trips back in San Francisco over the past few months, I have to write  about my driving experience itself: electric vs gas.

I have been driving electric cars now for approaching 5 years. When I hop into a gas powered rental car, I am jarred by the engine’s lack of responsiveness! Gas powered cars now seem so infernally sluggish and non-responsive to me. I’ve grown accustomed to the massive amount of torque of the electric motor, which I rarely use, but which makes the car accelerate exceptionally smoothly! Gas engines just don’t have that much torque.

I don’t drive fast, and I very, very rarely accelerate fast (though the Tesla will peal the asphalt off the road if you want it to). It’s just the EV acceleration experience is exactly what you want it to be: smooth and responsive, profoundly responsive. No matter what your speed, no matter how steep the hill, if you need to accelerate, there is no hesitation at all, just beautiful, smooth, perfectly controlled acceleration.

Granted, the gas powered cars I rent have tiny little 4 cylinder engines in them that frequently require you floor the accelerator in order to make it up those long, steep San Francisco hills at an acceptable speed. (I’m specifically thinking about heading north on the 101 just after the Golden Gate Bridge.) On that hill, I press the accelerator more and more with absolutely no change whatsoever in the speed of the gas powered car.

So, you either endure the unbearably slow uphill acceleration, or you force the car to downshift (or whatever it is doing) by depressing the accelerator all the way to the floor. The later makes for a miserably jerky riding experience. So, slow or jerky? Neither works so well for me.

Electric isn’t binary, isn’t either or. It’s smooth, unending torque! Again: no matter what your speed or how steep the hill, when you press the accelerator, the car accelerates. Never ending torque, even in our little Nissan Leaf. Period.

So, what’s my point? Once you drive electric for a while, driving gas in a 4 cylinder car is less than a satisfactory driving experience. I didn’t see that coming!