Learners and instructors take to electric cars but infrastructure needs improving, warns AA Driving School

Driving instructors and their pupils are leading the way with the switch to electric vehicles, but infrastructure challenges could hamper progress, warns the AA Driving School.

In the first year since electric vehicles have been available to its franchised driving instructors, around 49,000 hours of lessons have been given in EVs to around 3,300 pupils by the AA’s driving instructors.

Feedback from EV driving instructors shows the top two struggles faced when adapting to an EV are managing the range with lesson schedules and finding suitable public charging posts.

On the positives, the top benefits they have found are the smooth, quiet ride as well as the cost savings and positive experience for pupils.

The increasing acceptance of electric vehicles among learner drivers is reflected in the growing proportion of learners who pass their test in an automatic vehicle.

DVSA pass rate statistics show people passing their test in an automatic accounted for 13% of new drivers in 2021/22, compared to 5% 10 years ago.

Camilla Benitz, AA Driving School Managing director, said: “Our instructors have shown they want to make the switch to electric and help the next generation of drivers feel confident leaving combustion engines in the past.

“Overall, the first year of offering electric vehicles to our franchisees has been really positive and many electric instructors say they wouldn’t go back. They enjoy the cars’ smooth, quiet ride and like the fuel savings – both economic and environmental.

“There are challenges to teaching in an electric car though, particularly around whether the charging infrastructure is robust enough, and more needs to be done to ensure the industry’s progress towards electrification is not hampered.

“A key concern is around ensuring there are enough public charging posts to support instructors who do not have access to off-street parking so cannot install their own private chargepoints.

“The car you learn to drive in often leaves a lasting impression, so ensuring electric learners have a good experience is a vital tool in helping alleviate any concerns new drivers have about running an EV.

“We are confident the industry can adapt to the challenges and are planning to significantly expand the range of electric vehicles available to our franchisees this year.”

The AA Driving School launched EVs on its fleet last March with the Peugeot e208, Peugeot e2008 and Vauxhall Corsa-e.

Full details about the AA Driving School’s EV franchise is available here: Teach electric with an EV franchise | AA Driving School (theaa.com)

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