Driving a Tesla isn’t difficult, but can take a little bit of practice if you’re used to a traditional car. Even seasoned drivers need to get used to the slightly new style of driving when they first get behind the wheel of a Tesla. Still, after a quick introduction to how it works, you’ll find Teslas aren’t difficult to drive.
While the rules of the road and basic driving skills stay the same, the difference comes in the unique features of Tesla cars, like braking features and technology. With a little bit of practice, it’s easy to master driving these vehicles.
In this blog post, we’ll look at what you can expect when you begin learning how to drive a Tesla, as well as the challenges and benefits of learning to drive them and whether or not you can do your road test in one.
5 Key Differences Between A Tesla and a Regular Car
Some of the differences between a Tesla and a traditional car are immediately noticeable, like self-driving features and the fact that it’s an electric vehicle. However, some features, like the ones below, may not be as common knowledge.
One of the first differences you’ll notice when driving a Tesla is how quickly the car can reach full power when you accelerate. The electric motor delivers power more efficiently, creating an instant torque and quick acceleration time. When learning to drive, it’s important to apply the right pressure to the gas in order not to accelerate too quickly.
2. Energy Efficiency
Any electric vehicle (EV) will be more energy-efficient than those that use gas, but Teslas are especially known for their efficiency. Teslas have a high energy conversion rate, contributing to longer driving ranges between charges.
3. Costs and Incentives
While Teslas may initially be more costly than a traditional car, the long-term cost will balance out when you factor in the lower maintenance costs and less spent on gas. Not only that but there are government incentives to buy EVs, such as the Electric Vehicle Tax Incentive that offers a credit of up to $7,500 for new purchases.
4. Self-driving and Safety Features
Teslas come equipped with Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot, and Full Self-Driving (FSD) capabilities that can drive semi-autonomously or fully autonomously (with drivers still needing to remain attentive). Additionally, Teslas come with collision avoidance technology, such as automatic braking and warning systems to enhance the overall safety of the vehicle.
5. Green Driving Features
Another thing to get used to with electric vehicle driving is the green features, such as regenerative braking in Teslas. Drivers new to Teslas must adapt their driving habits to use regenerative braking effectively and make the most of this eco-friendly feature.
What Are The Challenges Driving a Tesla?
The challenges of driving a Tesla aren’t difficult to overcome, they just take some getting used to. Let’s look at a few common initial challenges of driving a Tesla.
Weight and Braking
Teslas are usually heavier than regular cars thanks to their battery packs, making the weight distribution feel different when maneuvering the car on corners or quick turns. Additionally, the regenerative braking system, which captures energy during deceleration and recycles it back to the batter, can feel different than in a traditional car. New Tesla drivers need to familiarize themselves with these new sensations to recalibrate driving habits and ensure a smooth and comfortable driving experience.
Instead of buttons and knobs, Teslas are equipped with a touchscreen control system. This touchscreen has multiple functions, like navigation, playing music, adjusting the temperature, and also accessing vehicle information. It can be tricky to get the hang of this system and not get distracted by it on the road, but with enough practice, it’s not too difficult to use.
Electronic Lock System
Teslas have keyless entry, relying instead on electronic fobs or an app to enter the car. However, this means that if you have issues with your phone, the fob’s battery is depleted, or if you forget either at home, you won’t be able to access your vehicle.
The autopilot and self-drive features mentioned earlier aren’t challenging to use on their own, they’re quite the opposite. However, finding the right balance between the autopilot and self-drive features while still appreciating its limitations can take time to get used to. Learning how to use the autopilot features effectively involves first understanding the technology’s limitations and abilities.
Do Driving Schools Offer Tesla Driving Lessons?
Not all driving schools will offer driving lessons in a Tesla since it would require purchasing a Tesla and customizing it for lessons. However, at Driven2Drive Premier Driving School, we invested in a Tesla to teach students, whether they’re new drivers or experienced. With the Driven2Drive Tesla, we can help students learn the ins and outs of a Tesla, from using the touchscreen effectively to instructing how regenerative braking works in action and demonstrating quick acceleration. While you absolutely don’t need a lesson to learn how to drive a Tesla, it can make you feel more comfortable when driving one if you’re nervous about it, particularly for your license test. Currently, students can use Teslas for driving lessons and road tests at our Bala Cynwyd and Northeast Philadelphia locations.
Can You Take a Driving Test in a Tesla?
There aren’t any laws that prevent a student from using a Tesla for a road test, however, you will need to ensure with your local DMV that the vehicle meets certain requirements, such as having an emergency or parking brake. It’s also important to note that you can’t use certain features in a driving test, such as Autopilot or FSD.
Drawbacks of Taking a Driving Test in a Tesla
Unless you’ve practiced in a Tesla before your road test and feel confident driving one, the quick acceleration, touchscreen, and regenerative braking system can take some getting used to, and you don’t want to be focused on that in your license exam. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider before deciding to do your driving exam in a Tesla:
- Some of the vehicle’s automatic features like FSD will need to be disabled
- Your DMV instructor might prefer a standard vehicle and feel irritated
- A Tesla’s features differ from other cars and you’ll need to explain which features are different to your instructor, such as the braking system and safety features
- You’ll need prior experience driving a Tesla in order to feel completely comfortable driving one to pass your road test
The Benefits of Learning to Drive a Tesla
Learning how to drive a Tesla can offer a unique educational experience that drivers can’t get from other types of vehicles. While owning and driving a Tesla comes with its advantages, simply learning how to use this vehicle can also be beneficial. Here’s how:
- Skill development: Learning how to drive a Tesla is simply another driving skill to have under your belt, which can come in handy if you ever need to borrow or rent one
- Understanding EVs: Once you understand how to drive a Tesla, it will be easier to drive any electric vehicle in the future
- Environmental awareness: Becoming more aware of the fuel you consume through driving habits is something Tesla drivers are more attuned to than others
- Safety feature familiarity: Learning about advanced driver-assistance systems can be helpful on the road and contributes to a more comprehensive driver education
- Exposure to advanced technologies: As more and more EVs become available, acquiring skills specific to these cars helps you stay adaptable as technology evolves
Expand Your Driving Skills By Learning to Drive a Tesla
Driving a Tesla isn’t something to be nervous about. Learning to drive EVs is an important skill for drivers of any age or experience level, and with a little bit of practice and expert guidance, it can be mastered in no time.
At Driven2Drive, we offer driving lessons and road tests in a Tesla to help you expand your driving knowledge and feel comfortable driving this unique vehicle. If you’re interested in learning to drive a Tesla, contact us to set up a custom driving lesson package that fits your needs.
Is driving a Tesla just like driving a normal car?
In many ways, yes, driving a Tesla is similar to driving a normal car. However, Teslas have different features when it comes to accelerating, braking, or even using in-car features which is done through a touchscreen, so there is somewhat of a learning curve.
Is it hard to drive a Tesla for the first time?
The first time driving a Tesla may seem tricky, but it’s not hard. It’s a simple matter of getting used to different vehicle controls and driving habits, which is doable with enough practice.
What are the cons of driving a Tesla?
The cons of driving a Tesla depend on your driving habits. For example, if you’re used to driving long distances, it can be a nuisance to have to stop and find a charging station for your car on trips. Additionally, costs can be a deterrent to many people as the cost of the car and repairs is higher than the standard.
Driven2Drive is a premier driving school and the leader in Driver’s Education. From our dedicated team of instructors to our innovative state-of-the-art Driving & License Testing Centers, we are committed to instilling safe driving habits for life in a fun and interactive atmosphere. Experience the Driven2Drive difference at any of our conveniently located centers.