Recently, there has been an increased focus on electric vehicles (EV). The burgeoning fuel price and the ideal timing of the development of EV technology is providing drivers with alternative options at exactly the right time. In South Africa, however, the ownership of EV vehicles is limited by affordability. Yet, as uptake of the technology grows in South Africa so will its affordability.
EV technology training will be necessary
The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says as this technology grows in South Africa, so the time for EV training will soon be necessary. “A company’s decision to adopt EV technology in their fleets will likely be done for a number of reasons including reduced fuel consumption and impact on the environment. Yet, there are a number of small but important differences between driving an EV and a petrol-fuelled vehicle. Training ensures a driver gets the most from an EV which has safety and efficiency benefits.
“EVS require drivers to understand range and how to get the most from it, adjusting to instant acceleration, preparing for greater deceleration and knowing what to avoid. Without training, drivers will not get the full efficiency of an EV vehicle. This decreases energy-saving benefits. In an international pilot, 67 drivers received training on driving EVs which resulted in energy consumption of the fleets decreasing by 16% and range increasing by 20%.”
There are also safety ramifications to changing to EVs without adequate training. “Planning ahead is an essential part of defensive driving. In an EV, it becomes one of the most important tools in improving efficiency as it decreases sudden braking and harsh acceleration. The safety implications of this is that it accounts for traffic behind the EV driver who may not expect such a harsh deceleration.
“Training also helps drivers understand what they can expect from the vehicle. The international study revealed range anxiety is one of the most inhibiting factors to EV uptake. Much concern about this can be alleviated by helping drivers understand that by simply being a smoother driver, range can be considerably increased. Yet, this is unlikely to happen without adequate training.”
With the widespread uptake internationally and the start of the uptake in South Africa, the time is right for EV training. “South Africa faces its own challenges in changing mindsets about EV vehicles and with the energy crisis we currently face that does create challenges. This challenge alone, however, emphasises the importance of training EV drivers even more,” says Herbert.
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