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.
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