Why city drivers love electric cars
Ask any electric car driver, electric cars are great city cars. Although electric cars are built to handle any road conditions, including hitting high speeds on highways over long distances, drivers arguably will get the most benefit (and enjoyment) from an electric car while driving in and around a city. Many drivers also agree that electric cars are the perfect commuter vehicle.
It is worth looking at some reasons that make an electric car a great commuter vehicle — and why city drivers love them.
Range: Go the extra mile
Why are electric cars a particularly good option for city driving? One reason is you don’t necessarily need to buy one with an especially long driving range.
Most mid-range and affordable electric cars have a maximum driving range of around 200-240 miles on a full charge. (For Pacific Northwest drivers, that’s an easy roundtrip between Seattle and Bellingham or Moscow, Idaho and Spokane.) But even EVs with a range under 200 miles have more than enough range for most city drivers and commuters to get to work and back and run errands through the day.
One particular benefit of running a car with a low range is cost. Cars with long ranges are historically more expensive.
But when it comes to choosing a commuter vehicle, a city driver doesn’t necessarily need a long range. While the limited range of a standard electric requires some recharge planning on long road trips, in the city, drivers have little reason to worry about range.
The average commuter can plug in overnight and gain enough range to handle the daily commute and in-city driving for that day. Also, apartment dwellers and people who can’t charge at home can usually find conveniently located public charging stations close to work or their home. EV cChargers are becoming a common sight in shopping center parking lots, at hospitals and office buildings.
Fuel savings: electric versus gas
Another benefit of city driving in an electric car is that the cost of electricity is cheaper than gas. This isn’t necessarily the case when you are on the road using fast-charging stations but is true when charging at home.
The cheapest and most convenient way to charge an electric car is at home with a common plug. This is especially so in Washington and Idaho where the average cost of electricity is significantly lower than the national average.
If you are fast-charging on the road, however, the overall charging cost can be nearly as much as filling up a gas-powered car at a gas station. Many commuters, however, can charge their cars overnight using a common plug without making any modifications to their home, providing an adequate amount of driving range to make the daily commute and in-city driving.
Electric cars are also great city cars because they are more efficient in stop-and-go traffic than on the highway. All electric cars have regenerative braking systems that recapture energy and provide a small charge to the battery while braking. So, while the gas mileage efficiency of gas-powered cars tends to max out on the highway and falls steeply in the city, an electric car’s range increases in the city and falls as it approaches top speeds.
One other benefit of regenerative braking is that it puts less stress on the brake’s hardware in stop-and-go traffic. Electric car brakes tend to last much longer than brakes in conventional cars (Yes! You read that correctly). Many models are capable of self-stopping without the use of disc brakes, so an electric car’s braking hardware is not being constantly worn down in city driving.
Handling and safety
While this next benefit also applies to highway driving, electric cars tend to be more stable than conventional cars. The heavy batteries of an electric car are located in the center of the chassis and lower down than an engine block in a conventional car, giving the cars a lower center of gravity. This tends to make them a lower rollover risk and more durable in accidents. Tesla models, for example, have received the highest safety rating from the U.S. Department of Transportation in crash tests.
Noise and emissions
Electric cars also make for great city cars for drivers motivated by environmental concerns. In fact, they have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life within cities.
It’s no secret that gas-powered cars and trucks produce considerable noise and pollution.
Electric cars emit zero tailpipe emissions and their engines run virtually silent. So, as their popularity increases, electric cars will reveal their potentially greatest environmental benefits in cities with poor air quality and noise, congested as they are now with the daily traffic of mostly gas-powered cars.
—Written by Victor Whitman
—Top photo: Jevanto Productions/AdobeStock