If you’re undecided on whether to switch to a new, fully electric vehicle (EV), you’re not alone.  

Price, styling, battery range and charging infrastructure may all be reasons you have been holding back, but with significant advancements across all of these in recent years, it may well be time for you to take a second look.

Last year, 768 new EVs were registered in New Zealand which was a huge jump from just 35 back in 2015. There are many reasons for people to switch to a new EV, but to give you a first-hand example, we spoke with John, a new Hyundai Kona Electric customer, and asked him to share his story.

The Hyundai Kona Electric was launched last year and was awarded the Best in Class for EV/PHEV in the AA Driven NZ Car of the Year Awards.

Why choose an EV?

John is a director of a creative agency in Wellington and for a long time desired to achieve zero emissions. Having a positive effect on the environment by producing less carbon emissions than a petrol or diesel vehicle was a key objective for him, while having cheaper running costs was an added bonus.

He never considered a ‘hybrid’ as he didn’t believe in the philosophy of two engines. He also felt the battery range in earlier EV models failed to meet his requirements for long range road trips. To enable him to switch from his trusted diesel Hyundai i30, an EV would have to have much improved, real-world battery range.

Why the Kona?

When the Hyundai Kona Electric was announced, John knew it ticked all his boxes, not only for the battery range (Hyundai advertises over 400km+ real-world range) but also the styling and comfort level he required. He understood he’s an early adopter of this technology and knew the price point reflected this, but with all the other innovations in the vehicle he felt the Kona was value for money for him. The Kona retails for $73,990and the Kona Elite for $79,990.

John also liked the SUV compact styling and the two-tone colour.  It’s a good size and it comes well equipped with safety features like Cross Traffic Alert and a Heads-Up Display.  The Kona has plenty of power and it’s quiet, with John commenting that “you can really hear the road”.

What is your daily use?

John commutes daily from Kelburn which is a 7km round trip, but where the Kona really proves itself is when he visits his son in Martinborough, which he does several times a month. This is a 170km round trip which the car easily handles, even if he makes an impromptu trip to Masterton while he’s in the Wairarapa.

With a cabin capacity of 1,114 litres (by folding the 60:40 rear seats down) there’s also more than enough room for John’s hobby, whisky distilling.  He uses the car to pick up the malted barley and the folding hand-truck and sacks fit neatly in the boot.

How do you charge the battery?

John usually charges the Kona at home overnight, with a Wall Box Pulsar charging at 20 amps. The charging times can be set wirelessly and he takes advantage of off-peak electricity rates. According to Hyundai, a charge will take 9.5 hours using this method.  John averages around 1,200kms per month – which he estimates uses about $20 - $25 of electricity.

When charging at public charge stations which he does when travelling out of town, it can take up to an hour for a typical charge. It’s an easy experience, but the only concern he has now is turning up to a charge station to find someone ahead of him in the queue.  He finds people are very curious about EVs and often ask him how long his takes to charge.

Are you happy with changing to an EV?

John is extremely happy with his switch from an internal combustion car to an EV and he regularly challenges others to try it for themselves.

AA EV charge finder

There are over 12,000 registered EVs in New Zealand (new and used) and this number is only growing as new, more affordable models enter the market and accessibility to charging stations increases. As of July 2018 there were almost 100 rapid DC charging stations nationwide, an increase of more than 40 from the previous year.

Last year the AA, in conjunction with the NZTA, launched an online EV Charge Finder which uses the revolutionary and world-first EVRoam platform. Hosted on the AA’s Time and Distance calculator, the EV Charge Finder enables drivers to plot their journey prior to departing and informs them of the location of safe and reliable charging stations on their route.

Go to aa.co.nz/travel/time-and-distance-calculator and select 'charging stations'.

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