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Going electric

It’s an exciting time in our history.  Electric vehicles are at a point where they are becoming increasingly affordable to the everyday driver, particularly through the growing second hand market.

New Zealand’s electricity system is ideally suited to electric vehicles.  We have a 230 volt electricity distribution system, rather than the lower 110 volt system in the United States, meaning it takes much less time to recharge vehicles at home (easily recharge overnight). 

With around 80% of our electricity coming from renewable generation sources like hydro-dams, the vast majority of energy used to charge cars is ‘green’, and much better for our environment than petrol or diesel.

A few fast facts about electric vehicles.
  • Go the distance: With most vehicles covering 100km + on a single charge, they have more than enough juice to meet the average daily commute of around 50km. 

  • Cheap to charge: Based on an electricity price of 25c per kWh, charging your car overnight (8 hours) via your standard three-pin plug at home will cost you around $2, for 100km plus of driving range.  Topping up your vehicle at a public charge station will cost around $10.

  • Cheap to maintain: Dealers claim electric vehicles are actually cheaper to maintain than a car with a combustion engine.  While they still need things like tyres and brake pads changed, they don’t require regular oil changes, filters or spark plugs.  The electric motor and battery are fairly simple in terms of the number of parts, so there are less parts to maintain or replace.  Dealers are training their staff in how to maintain the vehicles which, if your vehicle is new, will usually be covered under a new car warranty.

  • Fit for purpose: Yes, many new early electric cars were hatchbacks, suitable for zipping about town, but the range of options is quickly increasing.  Renault has a van, which Air New Zealand has added to their fleet vehicle range or, if you want something with more luxury, options like the Tesla Model S is packed full of high-end features.  Hybrid technology is also making its way into heavy fleet vehicles like trucks and buses.

  • Zippy (or flat out fast): No, just because it’s electric, doesn’t mean you will be left at the lights.  Our experience of driving a range of electric vehicles has shown that for those who like to profess how fast their car reaches the speed limit, some of the options out there will knock your socks off.  Hey, if an electric motor is good enough for Audi to win Formula 1 races with, it’s good enough for the average driver!

  • Increasingly affordable: Ignoring factoring in fuel savings, the straight up cost of buying an electric vehicle is increasingly affordable to the masses.  With the government supporting companies to include electric vehicles in their fleets, more vehicles will enter the second-hand market.  Even buying new is no longer something only the very wealthy can entertain – Tesla shook things up when they launched their Model 3 this year, stating it will hit the market at about USD$30,000 in 2018.  GM has also announced the Chevy Bolt, a small crossover vehicle at a similar price point and with 300+km range, due for release by 2017.  This kind of competition can only help the affordability of electric cars going forward.