Despite ownership of electric vehicles (EVs) being limited by affordability, uptake of the technology is growing in South Africa, and it will steadily become more accessible.
However, as this technology grows in South Africa, so the time for EV training will soon be necessary, says Eugene Herbert, CEO of MasterDrive.
“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,” he says.
“Yet, there are a number of small but important differences between driving an EV and a petrol-fueled 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 study of fleet use of EVs, he says, 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 for drivers behind the EV, 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 widespread uptake internationally and the start of uptake in South Africa, the time is right for EV training, he says.
“South Africa faces its own challenges in changing mindsets about EVs and, with the energy crisis, we currently face challenges. This challenge alone, however, emphasises the importance of training EV drivers even more.”