New research from LV= General Insurance (LV=GI), the first insurer to launch an insurance product in the UK specifically designed for electric cars, has found that three quarters (77%) of drivers think the UK driving test should be adapted for electric cars.
Recently the Government announced plans to bring the ban on selling petrol, diesel and hybrid cars forward from 2040 to 2035. However, many more electric cars will be hitting the roads much sooner. LV=GI is calling for the UK driving test – theory and practical – to be adapted so prospective drivers are prepared and feel comfortable driving an electric car as soon as they hit the road.
Overhauling the UK driving test
There are currently an estimated 195,000 electric cars in the UK and many (84%) of those driving these vehicles have taken measures to learn more about them so they feel safe to drive one.
- Getting used to the driving range (49%)
- Noise difference (46%)
- Getting used to a fully automated vehicle (41%)
- Difference in acceleration (41%)
- Difference in braking speed (28%)
Tom Clarke, Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy at LV=GI comments: “As the UK moves towards becoming net-zero, UK drivers need to have a greater understanding of electric cars in order to have the confidence to make the switch. The fact that nearly two-thirds (72%) of electric car drivers say taking their driving test in an electric car would have been a benefit to them highlights the reality that the driving test in its current form is no longer relevant for the new wave of ‘green’ drivers.”
Insurance Edge Comment
It does feel different driving some electric cars, although for many the main difference is simply driving an automatic, rather than using a clutch and gearshift lever. Acceleration is slightly faster than the average hatchback to 40mph, but there is no difference in braking technique, or the physics that underpin stopping a vehicle from a given speed. It can feel different in some lightweight electric city cars, but you still press a pedal to stop.
Considering most electric vehicles have a huge dial on the dashboard which shows the percentage of charge – much bigger than a typical fuel gauge – it seems odd that anyone thinks that range anxiety should be part of a driving test.
LV= are right to state the existing drivng test needs updating however and changes are coming in April, which add a video clip element to the theory test. Testing real world scenarios in front of candidates is a good thing, but perhaps the best solution long term could be a graduated system, similar to motorcycles, where those who can only cope with an automatic electric car, with built-in collision avoidance, LIDAR, automated speed limit cruise control etc are restriced to those low power, low speed, vehicles. So you would have a Category E for electric, automated cars, restricted to 90mph.
Those capable of driving more complicated stuff can undergo a more in-depth test, which just like the motorcycle test regime, will cost over £1000 to accomplish, with off-highway tuition being part of the initial assessment.