Interior front cabin of a 2019 Toyota Highlander

Is it okay to shift an electric car into drive when reversing?

Electric/Hybrid Gear Shift and Transmission

If you’ve been driving an electric or hybrid vehicle, you may have noticed that you can easily change gears when in motion. Unlike in an ICE vehicle, shifting while going in an opposite gear won’t send you into a spazzing vehicular seizure. So does that means it’s okay to do?


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Shifting an electric car into drive when reversing shouldn’t cause any damage to the vehicle. This is because electric cars don’t have separate gears in the traditional, physical sense. Though it may appear that you’re using a standard gear selector, it’s actually an electric input switch. Instead of interacting with a physical transmission, you’re interacting with a computer. Trippy!

Do hybrid cars have an electric transmission? Hybrid cars sometimes have an electric transmission, and sometimes use the traditional version. Proceed with caution.

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What happens if you shift gears when driving in an electric car?

Different EVs respond in different ways to an in-drive gear shift. Some will refuse to shift and tell you you’ve done something naughty. Others will take into account what you’re doing and smoothly head into the process of shifting.

If you are reversing out of your driveway and shift into drive while you’re still going backwards, your vehicle will likely wait until you hit the brakes before it truly shifts into going forwards. This enables drivers to get a handy time-saving jump on their gear shifting. If you’re heading down a road at 30 mph and switch to reverse, a smart vehicle will begin auto-braking in a smooth fashion until the car is stopped, and then begin reversing.

These are just a few of the benefits of using an intelligent electronic input device rather than an unintelligent old mechanical selector.

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Why do electric cars only have a single gear ratio?

Electric motors deliver their best torque at zero RPM. They have a much larger RPM range than a typical internal combustion engine. An electric engine also produces its best power output when utilizing a broad RPM range. This is different from the way a gas or diesel engine works. These are the reasons electric motors only use a single gear ratio.

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