I tend to overthink things. As a friend once told me I cross my bridges before I get to them and work myself into a state of anxiety with ‘what ifs.’ What if it doesn’t work, what if it breaks, what if I make a fool of myself?
Now, there is a new source of anxiety riding over my horizon. We are looking at buying an electric car. Not a fossil fuel back up hybrid, a full electric Nissan Leaf. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. It seems that all new electric car owners are cursed by the same affliction; what if we run out of charge? It’s even got a name; Range Anxiety.
Last weekend we got to try out a Leaf. We drove home from Taupo with charge to spare and ks left on the guessometer. (The guessometer estimates the distance left in your battery based on your driving style, state of the road and battery health.) The next day we topped up again and headed back to Taupo. As we hummed up Broadlands Road, full of the joys of silent motoring and zero emissions, the numbers on the guessometer started to drop at an alarming rate. What seemed to be a flat straight road, perfect for e cruising was in fact a constant and gradual climb, just about the biggest drain there is on an electric car battery. By the time we reached the Taupo bypass I couldn’t take my eyes off the dash. Like a rabbit in a spotlight, I was mesmerised by our impending doom. But then, a miracle happened; we reached the 50 kph zone and swept down a hill and the numbers started to climb again. We rolled into the dealer’s yard with 35 ks left but the last half an hour of shallow breaths and rapid heart beats had taken it’s toll. I was shattered. The dealer laughed and assured us that range anxiety passes with experience.
Driving an electric car is not unlike driving any automatic car. You put your foot down on the accelerator and it goes. In fact they go so well that New Zealand’s fastest street legal car for a quarter mile is an electric car beating all V8s. You just don’t get that throaty roar. What you get instead is the chance to make trees with a graphic on the dash. The more economically you drive, the more trees you make. It became a bit of a competition for us to see who could make the most.
There are public charging stations popping up all the time and a very useful phone app that helps you locate them. I must admit I like the idea of having to stop and charge the car every 120km or so. The Man of the House generally doesn’t like to stop on the way anywhere and I get very twitchy on long trips so I’m looking forward to stretching my legs more often on the way to Wellington. The Leaf charges at a rapid charger in about 20 minutes, just long enough for a coffee.
So, with lowering prices, constantly improving battery range and more public charging stations, why would you not consider a battery electric vehicle when you’re due for a change? Try one. I bet you’ll love it.
Check out these websites
Interesting read, I didn’t know a thing about an electric car, now a know a little that gives me food for thought about buying a car like that. Thanks for sharing this.
I know what you mean. We saw a friends electric car about a month ago and have become obsessed. You would be surprised how much information there is out there about them and there are now about 4,000 registered in NZ.
I’ve added a couple of websites you can check out.
It suits your manta – living off the grid. Go for it 🙂
I don’t think we can do that quite yet at Warakurna Wendy…….. but…… look forward to hearing more about it when we see you soon!!!
Hey Pete, look forward to seeing you. 🙂
Really fascinating to read. I think I have range anxiety (who knew) at the idea of owning such a car. I’m not convinced that having to keep charging is a step forward, especially if you have a long drive to do…or the fact that electricity still has to be made to power it (at least NZ has geothermal power). Safe hydrogen cars must surely still be needed…?
Because we produce our own renewable (hydro) power, its an extension of how we live and a no brainer for the savings in running costs. And stopping to charge isn’t such a problem. A slower pace of life appeals to me but I hear what you’re saying. If you have a long way to go in a day then it may not be the best choice. There are plenty of people (about 4000 registered electric vehicles in N Z) who do it though on a regular basis. The more experience you have driving an EV the further you can go between charges but newbies are too afraid of running out. And it seems to be more a case of when rather than if combustion engine vehicles are banned.
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I agree that combustion engines have to be banned eventually (I think the UK recently put a 2050 timeline on it from memory), but I just hope that we find a better solution before that happens…time will tell. 🙂
Perhaps we will all go back to actual horse power…