They cut you up on roundabouts, swerve into your lane on motorways, and generally make life a bit difficult for you. It’s not deliberate, just a bit careless. But in that scenario, it’s absolutely key that you’ve anticipated what’s about to happen. And you need to see what’s coming in order to do that.
2. EVs need to make a noise – but not all the time
Quiet is a vital part of the appeal of battery cars; the ones that buzz or warble artificially drive me potty. I love being able to drive my long-term Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV off my driveway at 6am without waking my 15-month-old daughter, who's asleep in the upstairs bedroom. And yet there’s a problem with such noiseless cars at manoeuvring speeds – again, because people don’t hear you coming.
Pedestrians in car parks don’t hear an idle, and aren’t aware that the car they’re walking past is about to move. When you’re the driver of that car about to reverse, you may not see the pedestrian either – because backwards visibility is always worse than forwards. So I’d suggest an external start-up, idling and reversing noise; and nothing for driving forwards.
3. Put recharging sockets in the right place
This is on the back of your cars, on the nearside. On the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, they’re on the front. That means you have to drive into recharging bays forwards.
I distrust anyone who drives forwards into a parking bay, but in this case in particular it makes you more likely to inadvertently run-over a pedestrian who doesn’t know you’re about to move as you reverse out.
On the Mitsubishi Outlander, the charger’s on the offside – making life harder for charging when parallel parked. These cars should be properly converted for left- and right-hand drive.
4. Fit a good nav system as standard
I’ve always struggled to understand the need to set a waypoint in a modern car, but when you’re driving any distance in an electric car, waypoints suddenly make sense.
That’s because you’re generally hopping between chargers. You need to know how far you’ve got to ‘hop’ on each leg, whether there’s a compatible fast-charger at your next stop – and ideally, whether it’s available and working. There’s no guarantee of either, by the way. You also need a realistic ETA that takes account of the applicable charging times - and most of them don’t.
5. Fit better fuel gauges
In EVs, they’re remaining range indicators – and too often, they’ll tell you one thing when you set off, and another when you’re settled on the motorway at a frugal but realistic cruise. Ultimately, you rely on the range gauge for your security of onward travel.
If your car grinds to a halt five miles short of the charger you were aiming for, you can’t put a gallon of 100v DC in a carry can and walk back to it. It can’t be hard to make them commune with the sat nav for a more dependable estimate.
6. Adaptive cruise control should be standard, too
When you’re cruising, adaptive cruise control effectively manages your energy-regeneration for you – and it’s tricky to do it perfectly on your own. Sometimes, coasting is the most efficient thing to do; sometimes it isn’t.