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No really, that is what they sound like.  Like Kaitlyn a few months ago, I recently had the chance to visit Better Place and really enjoyed my visit.  The real draw of the visit was finally test driving an electric vehicle.  After a semester spent learning about how important they may be in our future transportation systems I needed to know more.

Understand here that I am very supportive of electric cars, but one small snag had me doubting: how will they perform? I am not a car enthusiast but I LOVE driving.  Driving for me is one of those activities during which I can completely forget about everything in the world and concentrate solely on the road.  Would it be the same in electric cars?  How would I feel about being forced into an automotive future where manual transmissions are extinct?  I took to the road in a Renault Fluence ZE to answer these questions.

I can’t say that the driving experience was the same as driving a manual, but for the average drive ran electric car will bring an improvement to the driving experience.  The car is quiet.  At slower speeds you can barely hear it, and above maybe 30mph almost all cars today, electric or not, generate more road noise than engine noise.  With no gears acceleration and deceleration is smoother than any traditional car on the market, and the immediate torque response means acceleration is faster too.

Deceleration is interesting.  Rather than simply coast the engine slows the car down as soon as you release the “gas” pedal.  This results in an effect mimicking downshifting in a manual but also regenerates electricity.  In urban and suburban traffic this concept works so well you would barely ever need to brake!

In terms of amenities, the ZE has everything a traditional well-equipped car has and more: adjustable everything, radio, pre-heating/cooling interior, heated seats, blah blah blah.  It also comes equipped with “Oscar,” a sweet in-car support system including navigation, performance and battery information, and more. Without so many intricate parts EV’s greatly reduce the lifetime maintenance requirements and costs of owning a vehicle.  Thus, while the feel may never satisfy driving enthusiasts, the EV is an improvement over current technology for most drivers.  Though network development needs to be continued in order to provide the care-free benefits of gasoline cars, the EV itself is well ready to take over the private transportation market.

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