Driving a battery electric vehicle

An electrifying experience

We’ve covered what it’s like to drive a hybrid daily, but what’s the experience like for a battery electric vehicle (BEV)? It’s likely many are very curious because of this vehicle’s fully electric powertrain and need to recharge the batteries.

Having been fortunate enough to experience a few of them, we’re here to share exactly what it’s like. We’ll also answer any burning questions like if there’s any adjustment needed, how far one can go, and where to charge. No need to worry as we’ll run you through how they work.

How does it work?

Nissan LEAF

Battery electric vehicles run solely on electric power. That means there’s no gasoline engine to take over when the batteries run out. As such, one must be mindful of the battery level and how far you can drive with the power that’s left.

BEVs are quite simple; they’re powered by an electric motor, and powering that is a massive battery hidden underneath the cabin floor. BEVs typically have fewer moving parts, often making them even easier to maintain.

Once power flows from the battery to the electric motor, the motor then drives the wheels. A BEV can have anywhere from one to four electric motors. These then power the rear axle, the front axle, or sometimes one in each wheel.

When it comes to accelerating, there’s no more need for a transmission. This is because transmissions are designed to ease the burden of the combustion engine when accelerating a car. An engine needs to get more fuel to generate more power and accelerate faster. With electric vehicles, the motor can deliver maximum power in an instant, hence no more need for a transmission.

The transmission of electricity from battery to motor is also silent. As such, BEVs return a very quiet ride. In fact, the only noises you’ll hear are from the air conditioning compressor, tires, or other vehicles on the road.

Like hybrids, BEVs will have a display in the vehicle that tells the driver how much power is being used, how much power is left in the battery, and an estimate of how far you can go in kilometers. It may even show how much further you can go with air conditioning turned off.

Shaped by efficiency

BEVs are designed to make the most out of the battery’s power. That’s why many of them are very streamlined in design, even though they’re described as SUVs or crossovers. These cars are built with a large proportion of lightweight steel and aluminum. Others go as far as equipping aerodynamic wheels and low resistance tires. You’ll likely spot some spoilers and sporty body kits in order to direct the wind around the vehicle while minimizing turbulence.

How they feel

BEVs power on with the press of the Start button. It’s fully electric, so there's no cranking or rumble from the motor. Instead, you’ll see the screens coming to life. Rest assured that the vehicle is already on. You know it’s ready to go when you see “ready” flashed on the screen. Simply put the car in gear and step on the throttle. Be gentle as BEVs can deliver maximum torque on demand. Instead, press lightly and you’ll find the vehicle rolling.

If you decide to bury your foot a little further, the vehicle will also begin to accelerate instantly. This is where some adjustment is needed as most drivers expect the vehicle to shift down before surging forward. Since BEVs don’t have gears, it can accelerate instantly, without having to shift down.

BEVs also make use of the vehicle’s momentum when slowing down. Simply lift off the throttle and you’ll notice it begin to decelerate. This is because it’s harnessing the momentum to recharge the batteries. Once you step on the brake, it charges the battery even more. Over in the energy screen, you’ll notice arrows moving from the wheels towards the battery to convey this. This is called Regenerative Braking and it’s a standard feature on all BEVs.

Unique abilities

A BEV also has its fair share of unique abilities. Thanks to its built-in Regenerative Braking, it’s actually possible to drive with just one pedal. This is called E-Pedal or one-pedal driving. In essence you step on the throttle to keep the vehicle rolling, once you reduce pressure, it begins to brake and recharge. The strength of the Regenerative Braking and the brakes can also be adjusted in some vehicles, to the point that you won’t even need to apply the brakes at the strongest setting, it’s just a matter adjusting throttle pedal pressure.

Another unique ability of BEVs are their sheer speed. Like we mentioned before, electric motors can deliver max power instantly. As such, you can go from 0 -100 km/h in times comparable to supercars. Even the large, SUV-like BEVs have this ability. Be warned that switching to Sport mode and unlocking this ability will drain the battery faster. It’s certainly an adrenaline rush when you do, though.


Every BEV sold in the country is offered with a home wall outlet charger. Some will even offer a high-power AC or DC charger which requires an electrical expert to install. As such, you don’t need to worry about charging when at home. If it takes 10-14 hours, you can simply leave it plugged overnight.

The CCS Type 2 port on the BMW iX3

When out and you’re battery is low, it pays to be familiar with the charging standard your car uses. There are currently two main kinds: CHAdeMO and CCS. If you’re car is European or widely sold in Europe, chances are, you have a CCS plug, which is the most common in the Philippines. CHAdeMO plugs are typically found in Japanese BEVs and PHEVs.

It’s also important to be familiar with your battery capacity, as well as that of the charger you’re connecting to. This will help you determine how long it takes to charge your vehicle.

For example, if your car has a 60 kWh battery and you connect it to a 22 kWh charger, then you can figure out the charging time by dividing 60 by 22. This amounts to 2.7 hours if completely empty. Of course there may be some variables that affect the time. Don’t worry as the built in monitor can also calculate this for you.

Remember that you don’t need to recharge to 100% every time. You can recharge just enough to get you home. Often times, that will take just 30 minutes to 2 hours.


The charge a BEV consumes depends on its battery’s size and the trip distance. If your drive is anywhere from 10-14 kilometers and you have a 200-kilometer battery, that amounts to just 12-14% used. More battery is consumed the faster you go. So if your route involves lots of heavy traffic, you might even consume less. As such, you may find that the battery can last up five days when used in the daily commute before needing a recharge. You can plug and recharge just a little each day if you’re worried about your vehicle’s range.

The thought of a BEV may sound daunting, but they’re actually quite simple if you give them a test drive. BEVs these days are designed to be as familiar and user-friendly as possible. You’ll find they drive almost the same, or perhaps are even easier to drive than conventional cars. Give it a try and you might not even want to go back to a normal car.