If you have been thinking about switching to a fully electric vehicle (EV) you’re not alone. As you walk through a car park or shopping mall it’s hard not to notice their increasing popularity.

In 2017 there were 2922 light electric vehicles sold in NZ, with used EVs making up the lion share (2232).This was mainly due to used vehicle pricing and availability. This trend has continued with 1562 used EVs sold in the first six months of 2018.

One of our AA Members approached us to share their story of what life is like with a used Nissan Leaf EV which they bought in 2017.

An EV convert’s story

Prior to having an EV the Member had a large SUV. They only used the vehicle for short trips; going to and from work (a short round trip of approx. 8km) and the occasional trip to their local supermarket or shopping mall - all of which never even gave the vehicle a chance to heat up. They were struggling to justify keeping this type of vehicle in addition to their main family car.

What did they buy?

After looking around at what was on the market, they decided to purchase a used Japanese 2015 24kW Nissan Leaf with approx. 8000km on the clock. This was the newest and lowest mileage model they could afford at the time. The model was priced between $20,000 – $23,000 with an estimated battery range of approx. 120 - 130km.

They also considered a newer 2016 30kW Leaf, which had a longer battery range of 160 – 170km but after reviewing their driving distances and budget they decided they didn’t need to upgrade to a newer model.

How long does the battery last?

In winter a full charge lasts them about 8 - 10 days. Winter driving requires wipers, lights and air conditioning, which can all have a negative effect on the discharge rate of the battery. Summer charges tend to last 10 - 14 days as wipers etc. are used less. Battery range can also be affected when carrying more people or traversing a lot of hills.

How do they charge the battery?

They generally charge at home and have installed a 15 amp wall socket into their garage which cost them around $800 – $1000. They charge from around 20% battery (they never let it run down below 20%) which takes about 3- 4 hours. Before the 15 amp socket was installed it took between 4- 6 hours, which was still manageable.

What about public charging?

They don’t use public charging stations a lot as they’re able to predict how often they need to charge their Leaf at home, but they’re pleased they’re available for when they do need them.

What about servicing?

Maintenance has been minimal but they have only had the vehicle for about 10 months. EVs still have conventional brakes, brake fluid, coolant and other items that require periodic inspections and servicing.

Are they happy with changing to an electric vehicle?

Overall they are very happy with changing to electric as it works better for their needs; a vehicle for shorter journeys within a budget they can afford. Other elements like the positive environmental effects due to having less carbon emissions than a petrol vehicle are a bonus.

There are currently nearly 9000 EVs registered in New Zealand, and it is predicted this number will continue to rapidly grow as new models enter the market, they become more affordable, and accessibility to charging stations increases. The AA has also launched EV Charge Finder which uses the revolutionary and world-first EVRoam platform. Hosted on the AA’s Time and Distance calculator, EV Charge Finder enables drivers to plot their journey between charging stations, removing range anxiety stress for EV drivers who will now know with certainty there is a safe and reliable charging station on their route.

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

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