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Do electric cars have gears?

With electric cars on their way to becoming the norm, it’s worth learning more about how they work before we make the switch

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Electric vehicles (EVs) are eventually set to become the only option if you’re buying new in the UK, as the ban on petrol and diesel model sales will come into place from 2035.

Adjusting to driving an electric car won’t take too much hard work – they feel like driving a standard automatic model. Just like automatics, you won't need to worry about changing gears. In fact, most EVs only have only one gear!

Are electric cars automatic or manual?

If you’re shopping for an electric car, you’ll only get a choice of automatic models. All EVs that are currently on sale use a simplified automatic set-up that usually uses only one gear to get moving.

There aren’t currently any manual EVs on the market and it’s unlikely we’ll get any in the future – the transmission in EVs is simpler enough that it’s not needed.

There have been plans for a mock-manual EV, but we’re yet to see these on sale.

Plug-in hybrid cars are usually all automatic models too, even if they don’t fully rely on battery power to get moving.

Do electric cars have more than one gear?

There are a few models that have more than one gear, like the Porsche Taycan with its two-speed transmission, but these are still automatic.

You’ll still have the options to select neutral/park, reverse, and forward driving modes, just without the extra gear options that come with manual cars.

In a standard Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle with gears, the engine needs to stay in its optimum power band for an effective and responsive drive. As EVs have instant torque and power available from one rpm, there’s no need for numerous gears to keep the car in its most comfortable zone for the type of driving you require.

With electric cars, you’ve got everything you need from the get-go, and you can get it all from one gear.

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What are electric cars like to drive?

Switching to an electric car doesn’t mean you’re downgrading to a battery-powered go-kart! You’ll actually get a really nippy drive from most EVs, as you don’t need to work through the gears to reach the right levels of power. Your car will instantly be ready to go, and will give you a smooth drive without the feeling of shifting through gears.

EVs are also usually cheaper to maintain, as they don’t have all those oily engine parts that ICE cars have. This means there are fewer functions that are likely to go wrong, with even your servicing being a simpler process.

The benefits of automatic electric cars

Less engine maintenance: with the missing gearbox and clutch, there are fewer parts in EVs that need maintenance or are likely to go wrong. This will help save money in the long run.

Easier to drive: most motorists find that automatic EVs are easier to drive, as you won't need to worry about shifting through gears and manning that clutch pedal.

Easier brake energy recuperation: as the current from the motor in EVs is inverted, it’s simpler to charge the battery through brake recuperation when slowing down.

Learn more about electric vehicle charging: