Fast Thoughts: How to make electric cars more ‘fun’

Aren’t they fun already?

Well not really. If there’s one criticism levelled against modern electric cars besides the time it takes to recharge them is that, whilst they drive well, they don’t engage the driver that much. They don’t give you the confidence to enjoy a road. They’re comfortable, quiet and quick under acceleration, but when it comes to the corners they’re just not fun.

Now lets start by making it clear that I am in the minority because I like to be enjoy a road, it matters to me if a car is engaging and fun when driving along a country lane. For most it doesn’t. For most a car is just a tool that gets them from A to B, and that’s fine. Its why the word fun is in inverted commas.

But what about that minority? The electric revolution has arrived, range anxiety is becoming less of a problem year on year, see Rory Reid’s range comparison of his Mustang and an electric Hyundai he has on test for an idea as to where we’re at. But still, electric car sales make up a tiny percentage of new car sales at the moment.

So how do car makers get more people into electric cars? How do they make them more appealing? Longer range and financial incentives would help but what about the actual mechanics of what makes the car move?

My suggestion is that in order for electric cars to progress they should regress. Not in the technology no, but in the way we use that technology, in how that power is executed by the driver.

Inspired by the first generation Formula E car the Spark-Renault SRT_01E (cover photo) that ran a six speed sequential gearbox, I am suggesting that we bring back the multispeed gearbox into electric cars.

Now electric cars don’t have multiple gears because, according to Road and Track:

“an electric motor makes its best power output over an incredibly broad RPM range. So instead of packing the car with numerous gears to keep the engine in its happy zone, designers of electric cars just pick a gear ratio that provides a good compromise between acceleration and top speed”

Road and Track, August 16th 2017, Bob Sorokanich

As well as this more gears means less efficiency which reduces their range. Bad for the everyday driver or commuter but then again quite a few cars that are fun have low ranges, but it doesn’t stop people from buying them.

In short, they’re not necessary but neither is the manual gearbox, and car makers still sell cars which have them. What I’m suggesting is the option to spec your electric Audi or Jaguar etc with a sequential gearbox. When the going gets twisty and your favourite stretch of road it means that, even if the steering is numb and the air quiet, that you at least have one avenue of engagement with the car underneath your feet.

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