A vehicle is more drivable if it has a reasonable amount of torque. Torque makes the vehicle feel lively and responsive when you press the accelerator pedal. EVs such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV have an electric motor that gives 49kW or 66 bhp, which is comparable to conventional engines in the small vehicle sector. Where it goes further than conventional engines of similar size is in having a torque of 180 Nm.
The torque in a conventional engine with a similar bhp is normally around 100 Nm. But that torque is not available until the engine is at 1500 revolutions per minute (rpm). In addition, the torque generally goes down as the rpm goes up. In the i-MiEV all the torque is available from 0 to 2000 rpm with maximum power output from 2500 rpm up to 8000 rpm.
This is not only the case in the small vehicle sector. In the sports car sector a conventional engine with 300 bhp may have a torque of 400 Nm and acceleration to 62 mph of about 5 seconds. A sports car sector EV is the Tesla Roadster Sport where the full torque of 400 Nm is available from 0 rpm to 5400 rpm and acceleration to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
What also makes EVs more drivable is the fact that you put the EV into drive, press the accelerator and away you go. There is no vibration, no noise only smooth acceleration. One trick the EVs have over conventional engines is there is no need for a reverse gear. The motor is reversible. Put the EV in reverse and the motor spins in the other direction.
While there are no emissions from the EV itself, the electricity to charge the battery must come from a power source somewhere. Sources such as coal or gas fired power stations produce emissions, but dealing with emissions in one central place is simpler than attempting to deal with emissions from hundreds of vehicles all over a town. More environmentally friendly power sources are being built. Wind turbines, wave and tidal generators are coming to the electricity grid to help reduce dependence on coal and gas.
The “well-to-wheel efficiency” value gives an idea of the emissions used in the pathway from raw material to its final use in a vehicle. For EVs it’s the generation of electricity, the charging of the battery and the driving efficiency of the EV. As you may picture there are a great number of stages involved and it’s a complex number to work out. Emissions will be caused in earlier stages in the pathway such as taking out and transporting gas or coal to the power station and the generation of electricity. The last stage of using electricity to charge the battery to let you travel a certain distance in your EV causes no emissions. Provided the driving efficiency of the EV is good then the “well-to-wheel efficiency” will be better than a conventional vehicle.
Noise pollution is a significant concern in towns and cities. Conventional engines make noise during normal use. Unmaintained vehicles tend to make more noise through blown exhausts and mechanical rattles. EVs have fewer moving parts and the gearbox may only have one fixed gear such as in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Roadster Sport.
Easy to maintain
An EV has less parts that a conventional vehicle. According to Mitsubishi the i-MiEV only has 4 major working parts. Compare that with the number of parts in a conventional engine, which may be in the range of 300 or more.