In many related discussions, the humorous “be careful not to push it” is often-densely mentioned in an electric car with the possibility of running out of battery. To what extent can we do it, though?
In most electrics, relevant messages appear from when the battery is at 20%, which thicken as it decreases. From 10% down the warning signal is permanently lit on the dashboard and even if it finally reaches 0, there is a “spare tire” of 10-15 km. Besides, many models show routes to the nearest charging stations (where available) through the navigation system. In short, one should “ignore everything” completely in order to stop his car in order to be immobilized.
So let’s say it does. Or that there is no charger nearby and necessarily subject to inconvenience. Or, more simply, that there is damage involved. Since electrics do not have a transmission, can we push them? The answer is a bit complicated and focuses mainly on whether it should, more than if it is done.
In an EV the engine is permanently and directly connected to the drive wheels. This is one of the reasons for the immediate throttle response, compared to a thermal car. Here there are no differentials, boxes, clutches, gears, transmission shafts and other “intermediaries”. Therefore, in order for the car to move off it is necessary first to disengage the wheels from the motor.
For precisely such cases, there is the option “N”. Of course it is not about the traditional “neutral”, but the result is the same. The electric motor (or electric motors) are disconnected – so to say – from the wheels and the car can roll, while at the same time energy recovery is switched off.
Also, even if the electric motor is not working, if the wheels are moving it is charged. The same goes for energy recovery, as in essence it also can’t really go out, as a structural part of the system. Accordingly, if we need to push an electric one for safety and not hinder traffic, we can.
It is very important to emphasize that the “crime” of towing with the rear wheels touching the road (as of course in normal rear/four-wheel drive) is strictly forbidden.