Why Electric Cars Might Be The Best Cars For Teenage Drivers


There’s an interesting article over on Cheat Sheet that attempts to prove that electric cars are the best type of cars for teenage drivers.

The general idea is that the limited range of today’s cheaper electric cars make the idea of speeding less attractive, since high speeds sap range:

“In the hands of a teen driver the disadvantages of an electric car also become advantages. Not only are they slow, they’re also limited to how fast they can actually drive. The Tesla Model S is an obvious exception that you shouldn’t give to a teenager anyways, but in general, electric cars can’t go much faster than 90 miles per hour. They’re also far less efficient at highway speeds, meaning that even if your teen has the patience to get a Nissan Leaf up to 90 miles per hour, they’re also going to have to watch their remaining range plummet.”

“Since higher speeds are less efficient, there’s an added incentive for your teen not to speed excessively. In an electric car with a 300 mile range, that might not be the case, but with somewhere around 80 miles of range to play with, your teen will quickly realize how important it is not to needlessly waste electricity. No one wants to make an embarrassing call home to mom and dad to tell them the car is dead.”

Sort of makes sense?

For more on why Cheat Sheet thinks electric cars are ideal for teens (hint: they’re safe and fitted with all the latest gadgetry), click the source link below.

Source: Cheat Sheet

Category: General


60 responses to "Why Electric Cars Might Be The Best Cars For Teenage Drivers"
  1. The hell are they smoking? How often do teens exceed 90 mph anyway? Even if you give a teenager who speeds a LEAF, they’ll still speed if they are doing a short trip, because 90 miles is more than enough range for 99% of trips.

    1. Mike777 says:

      Aside from the fact that the Leaf isn’t slow.
      But, the point is still probably valid, the Leaf has effectively 4 gallons of gas range.

      Burning up the tires will make the range number drop with energy.

      1. sven says:

        The Leaf is fast only from 0 to 30 mph. The Leaf is slow 0 to 60 mph, taking 9.7 seconds, while doing the 1/4 mile in 17.3 sec @ 79.1 mph. In comparison, the Toyota Prius is just as fast as the Leaf. The Prius goes from 0 to 60 in 9.7 seconds, while doing the 1/4 mile in 17.3 sec @ 80.2 mph. The results for the Leaf and Prius were attained by the same publication, Motor Trend.



        1. Mike777 says:

          I think you’re thinking drag strip fast.
          No one actually floors it and holds the accelerator pedal down for a full ten seconds, except for possibly new teen drivers.

          And in that context 0-60 in ten is fast, because you’ll be unsafely passing 99.9999% of all traffic in an unsafe manner.

          1. Aaron says:

            …and i-MiEV drivers merging onto the freeway… 😉

        2. dan says:

          The LEAF feels fast as hell compared to the Prius (I have owned both), there is no comparison, plus 0-30 is what matters for most people.

          Look at this older article for some data:


          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            LEAF is slow even for 0-30mph.

            Most Mid size V-6 sedans can easily match it.

            But that is point.

            You want a slow car for teenagers. Especially a slow car that “feels fast!”.

    2. Josh says:

      I can neither confirm nor deny traveling in excess of 90 mph before the age of 20. (What is the statue of limitations again?)

      1. Josh says:

        *statute (damn autocorrect)

        quick search says 18 months. So I might have gone over 90 many times on long, open, flat, backroads.

        P.S. And a 2011 Nissan LEAF does 93 mph…

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      And most EVs, if not all of them, have exceptional acceleration from a stop, which will certainly encourage stoplight drag racing… precisely the opposite of the sort of driving we should encourage in unsupervised teen driving!

      The “Cheat Sheet” article deserves a facepalm:

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        They “feel faster” than they actually are…

        Even the 0-30mph times can easily be matched or beaten by decent V-6 cars.

        But that is what you want… A slower EV that feels faster than it is.

  2. As a second thought to add, in a few years when range is superior this will be even less of a valid argument.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Ah . . . but there will be a lot of used, inexpensive, short-range EVs available for sale. Perfect for a teen-ager. My daughter will eventually get a short range EV . . . perhaps the one I am driving today.

      1. Yep, I leased a 2015 Leaf in December and gave it to my daughter when she turned 16 in June. Great, safe little car and she never, ever has to visit a gas station or ask me for gas money. I would love to say she is limited to 80 or so miles of range, but living in Metro-Atlanta we have a fairly robust charging infrastructure and she knows how to use it.

        1. Just_Chris says:

          The leaf has one other trick that I think any father of a teenage girl should be allowed acess to……. The data the leaf sends to japan including, location and number of people in the car.

          I think it would be particularly useful if it sent a message through the app to inform the owner of the vehicle if the leaf had remained stationary for a prolonged period with the radio on and the doors shut, especially if 2 seat belt sensors where active at the beging of the journey.

          You should also be able to remotely activate the car alarm.

          1. Just_Chris says:

            I just re-read my post clearly I am not talking about your daughter or your situation. I am sure your little girl is pure as snowflakes…… For goodness sake you drive a leaf you must be nice people.

    2. Steven says:

      Wow, so it’s not just Tesla’s you hate?

      Lemme guess, you work for, or have stock in an oil company.

  3. Greg says:

    Electric cars, however, would be much easier to program parental controls on, no?

    1. Exactly. Tesla has Valet Mode. You could have a similar mode for teens!

  4. Carsten says:

    I’ve already told my teenagers that they will have to share the MiEV and not get the 2001 ICE. They love the EV and I know, they will be maximum 70mi away. I also told them, that I will make them work for any towing due to running out of juice.
    My daughter is currently doing her license and my son will start later this year.

  5. Greg says:

    But I suppose teens these days would figure out how to bypass it anyway.

  6. Priusmaniac says:

    After valet mode are we going to have a teen mode?

  7. Tom says:

    Don’t electric cars as a rule have high torque thus are very fast off the line? What % of electric cars are slow off the line? Even my C-Max Energi is quick.

    1. True, but it’s also very easy to program artificial limitations into an EV.

    2. Brian says:

      True, but my C-Max came with the option to restrict capabilities based on the key. Ford MyKey, or something like that. Of course a PHEV doesn’t have the range “leash” that a BEV would have on a teen.

      1. Just_Chris says:

        Depends if you put petrol in it or not.

  8. Greg says:

    Would be a good idea seeing as car accidents are the leading cause of death in young people. Wouldn’t eliminate them but would maybe make them less serious.

  9. arne-nl says:

    EV’s are the best cars for everyone.

    1. vdiv says:

      Exactly! Therefore the parents have to lead by example and drive EVs as well.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Why Electric Cars Might Be The Best Cars For Teenage Drivers

      Fixed that for them. Unfortunately, the “Cheat Sheet” article tries to convince us the opposite is true.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        I see what you did there, (=

  10. David Murray says:

    Besides some of the B.S. statements in this article.. I’d go as far as to say an EV will have the opposite effect. For one thing, they won’t have to worry about paying for gas. Which means they may be driving more often.

    1. This may be true for our U.S. friends but over here in the UK 99% of the time you only drive as far as the next town over, maybe two towns over if you’re feeling adventurous. Any trip beyond 20 miles is considered an occasion and happens a couple of times a year at most. Unless you’re a professional driver, travelling merchant, businessman, etc, but those are obvious exceptions.

      I think if you KNOW you won’t be going far, then you KNOW range is a non-issue, and you feel no guilt about burning up some battery, and combined with the addictive torque and fact that you can thrash an EV with less ‘mechanical sympathy’ (less moving parts to go wrong, car doesn’t sound like it’s dying when thrashed) I have a feeling teenage drivers would possibly drive FASTER with an EV.

      I know for one I personally do not like driving a gas car fast because I worry about how inefficient the engine is, and the difference between going 70 and 85 mph makes you burn exponentially more energy and chuck out vastly increased pollutants into the atmosphere. All in the name of shaving a handful of minutes off a 10-mile journey, or a handful of seconds off a short stretch of road. However, if I was driving an EV I would feel considerably less guilt thrashing it – particularly if the energy came all from solar panels! – so I’d feel less sympathy putting my foot down, as I’d know the effects far less harmful to the planet.

      1. And as an added point that a lot of us EV drivers can associate with: Without the roar of an engine in many ways your sense of speed is dulled – it’s a trick of the brain – but some people tend to overcompensate by driving faster. For example 40 mph feels MUCH slower in a LEAF than it does in my regular car, so I subconsciously find myself driving faster in a LEAF to achieve the same sense of speed.

  11. kubel says:

    I think this article makes a very weak argument. Having 70ish miles of range on my LEAF hasn’t prevented me from, ehmm, “spirited driving”, and I doubt it will prevent teens from driving like dumbasses either.

    Ford MyKey has been out for several years now, and I think that’s a much better approach. It’s not difficult to configure a car to limit top speed or encourage safe driving habits.

    -BeltMinder: Chimes every 30 seconds if front occupants don’t buckle up. Also disables the radio until they put on seatbelts.

    -Top Speed Settings: Can limit top speed to as low as 65MPH and chime annoyingly at speeds as low as 45MPH.

    -Audio Volume: Can be limited to about half of maximum.

    Want your kid to be accountable and also protect them from false accusations? Install a dashcam with GPS capabilities. Mute the audio to give them some privacy if you want, but track where they go, top speed, g-sensor events, etc… It doesn’t take a $30,000 car to do this.

    1. sven says:

      I agree, software such as Ford’s MyFord is a much better, and much more effective approach.

  12. CDAVIS says:

    Flawed logic because logic and teens don’t mix.

    1. CDAVIS says:

      …when it comes to driving.

      1. vdiv says:

        My teens are more logical than your teens 😉

  13. Josh says:

    I joke with my wife that our daughter will get a 2011 LEAF, with the original battery, when she gets to driving age (in 15 years).

    On a serious note, the precision of the acceleration and lack of shifting (I learned on a stick), would make learning to drive much easier for a new driver. Combine that with the low CoG, and an EV is just much easier to control.

  14. ggpa says:

    I think it is obvious that an EV is better than ICE for a new driver in the vast majority of cases.

    I am stunned by some of the responses on this page.

    1. kubel says:

      EVs typically cost twice as much as their gas equivalents, are more expensive to repair if they are in an accident, insurance is much higher, and they tend to have more technology distractions. They aren’t the best vehicle for teenage drivers.

      1. ggpa says:

        Your statement is wrong and unbalanced.

        Wrong: For instance “EVs typically cost twice as much as their gas equivalents” … you can buy a few year old Leaf for $10000. What equivalent ICE can you buy for $5000? And is the ICE equivalent, or much older and does not meet recent safety standards?

        Unbalanced: You fail to consider areas where EVs are superior, e.g. battery weight improves roadholding due to the low center of gravity.

  15. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “In an electric car with a 300 mile range, that might not be the case, but with somewhere around 80 miles of range to play with, your teen will quickly realize how important it is not to needlessly waste electricity. No one wants to make an embarrassing call home to mom and dad to tell them the car is dead.”

    So… the argument here is that the limited range of BEVs make them a “better” car for teens to drive?

    Wow, that’s like the Dilbert cartoon where the pointy-haired boss tells Dilbert that their product causes their customers to die, and Dilbert has to write ad copy promoting the product! So Dilbert writes “The ideal gift for someone you don’t like…” 😉

  16. sven says:

    Couldn’t parents just swap the gas tank on their old ICE cars with the gas tank from an i3 ReX or an ICE riding mower? 😉

  17. Loboc says:

    Teens are no different than other drivers in their needs/wants for vehicles. There is no EV that looks and drives like a Mustang or F150.

    1. ggpa says:

      Wow … this post really has an effect on people …

      “Teens are no different than other drivers in their needs/wants for vehicles.” — Well I recall buying a minivan because we have 3 kids to haul around. Somehow I think few teens are in that situation. Therefore, your statement is wrong

    2. Koenigsegg says:

      My matte grey Smart ED looks cooler and drives better than a Mustang 😉

      i’ve never wanted a mustang, it uses gas and is slow.

  18. Koenigsegg says:

    I was 18 when i got my Smart ED. I commute to college in it and go to work, roughly 50 mile roundtrips and I have plenty of range left.

    EV’s are indeed the best cars for teens, but in general simply the best cars for everyone.

  19. scott franco, the evil, greedy republican says:

    What the fork is he talking about? I have had the smart EV up to 80 with ease.

  20. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

    Well, I agree that EVs are great for teens and also that the article makes a poor argument.

    We have two LEAFs (hence the screen name) and an ICE car. The LEAFs were both acquired at unusually low prices, and our 3 teen drivers (ok, 1 is now in 20s, and a fourth has her learner’s permit) save me a lot more money because they much prefer the LEAFs to the noisy, smelly, dirty, non-environmental ICE car.

    As I no longer commute (work from home plus taxi to airport for work) the large majority of our miles are from the kids off to commuter college campuses – and almost all of those miles are electric.

  21. TAP says:

    My objection to this concept is that small light cars are not the safest choice for inexperienced drivers. If you are going to be in an accident, especially if it is with another car, mass is your best friend. Anything smaller than a Volt is asking for trouble. I would NEVER put a teenage driver in an iMiev, Smart, Fiat 500, or similar “b-class” car.

    1. Mister G says:

      What if 90% of passenger cars were light and compact?

    2. Heisenberght says:

      “If you are going to be in an accident, especially if it is with another car, mass is your best friend.”

      Well that’s only the case if your car has the higher mass. In general higher mass means more energy to be absorbed. So one could also claim:

      If you are going to be in an accident, especially if it is with another car, mass is your worst enemy.


      This whole mass is your best friend thing is stupid. This kind of thinking leads to heavier cars, which is stupid. It only makes sense if you only care about yourself and not about anyone else on the street. (It’s hard for pedestrians to increase their mass…)

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Your theory is true if they are running into a tree.

        But if they are running into another car, then heavier cars with similar safety equipment and standard are safer than the lighter cars.

        Yes, I know that mentality ends up driving the sales of heavy cars which leads to less safe environment for lighter cars, but it is physics…

  22. Roy LeMeur says:

    Have used this strategy for years when selling NEVs. They can’t go too fast or too far. Keeps the kids close to home and not taking off on any 500 mile trips. Here in WA an NEV is limited to 35mph (most are capable of 40+). An NEV makes about 5kW of power. Yes, NEVs are now more or less a thing of the past and not the safest choice but “parental controls” could still be integrated into a modern EV.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Now that is a good argument, unlike what is argued in the “Cheat Sheet” article.

  23. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Most EVs are slow (beside i3, Tesla and ERav4).

    Even Volt requires almost 9 second to get to 60mph.

    0-30mph might be quick but the numbers don’t beat most V-6 engine powered midsize sedans.

    So, even if 0-30mph is quick, 30-60mph is still slow. So, I would rather kids speed in 0-30mph than 30-60mph which means that higher speed would be far less safe.

    Lower max speed (again exclude Tesla) is also a good thing so they won’t take the cars to that high speed. With cars like the LEAF, cruising at 80mph would quickly burn up your range which would mean you are less likely to sustain that speed longer than ICE cars would otherwise do.

    Actually, I would have no problem buying one of those heavily degraded BEVs for my kids. Not only the range would restrict how far they can go, the degraded battery would almost prevent them from DCFC it and go farther… Not to mention they will be super cheap!

  24. Ken says:

    I would love to be one of your kids. It took me a long time to afford my Leaf and it was the most expensive car ive ever bought and ive had quite a few. My first car(truck) was 20 years old when i got it for cheap from one of my parent’s friends and i had to rebuild mostly all of it myself with money earned from my afterschool fulltime job at the gas station. Had to pay for my own insurance too. That $1,326 dollars was hard to save up for when i was only making $5 an hour in 1994.
    All that being said, if i had driving age kids i would probably let them use the $7,000 imiev that j just purchased as a second car to the Leaf. They would still have to pay for registration and insurance. Especially since i would be paying for all the “gas”. Have to teach kids some responsibility, cant just give a 16 year a brand new car and expect them to learn anything about money.