The introduction of hybrid vehicles into the automotive market took a little while to get used to, but now they’re commonplace and blend seamlessly into our daily commute. Sales of fully electric vehicles (EV) and Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are rapidly on the rise as the battery range, and manufacturer options have increased and vehicles are now more aesthetically pleasing. There are still some myths or gaps in knowledge about EVs though that lead many drivers to stick with what they know best and avoid entering the EV market. Let’s help to clear some of that up.

How can I charge an EV?

Charging stations are slowly popping up in our main metropolitan areas but did you know that you can power your EV at home? Running at just 6-8 amps, using your regular wall socket can take a while but a slow charge overnight will ensure the batteries are topped up. If time isn’t always on your side though, there are other options.

One option is getting an electrician to install a heavy duty socket in your garage. Running at 16 amps, this will allow you to fully charge your EV’s battery in about five hours. Another alternative is a DC fast charger. These can be quite costly to install, but they’re the most convenient option as they have the ability to charge a small battery in just 25 minutes. Many charging stations are also installing these fast chargers, so you don’t have to splash the cash on getting one fitted in your home to be able to use one.

How far can I travel?

The range of an EV is mainly determined by the capacity of its battery and the vehicle’s energy consumption. In the current market, there typically tends to be two main ranges.

The first are the Entry EVs such as the Nissan Leaf (used), Hyundai IONIQ or Volkswagen e-Golf which offer around the 200km range. Or more expensive models such as the Tesla Model S or X which can run up to around  600 km on a charge, which is more akin to what you’d get out of a tank of fuel.

Tesla has been able to achieve its range by stacking 7104, 18 mm x 65 mm batteries in the floor pan of the car. These are only a little bigger than an AA battery and, stacked together, they form what Tesla call a skateboard. They have also introduced their Model 3 with a smaller price tag, offering a medium range of around 346 km. However, even if you put a US$1000 deposit down, the first shipment to New Zealand is still yet to be determined.

For some Kiwis, a more affordable, smaller EV might still be suitable. On average, New Zealanders commute about 28kms per day, so they can make great second vehicles for the everyday errands with plenty of range to spare.

What’s the performance of an EV like?

In today’s market you can get electric cars that have fast acceleration and a higher torque output than your typical petrol or diesel car. Some EVs are able to accelerate 0-100kp/h in just 2.7 seconds and the high torque output from the electric motor usually eliminates the need of a transmission or clutch, offering continuous smooth power. Even the lower cost EVs have an acceptable performance of 0-100kp/h in 9 seconds, which can be bought as new in the New Zealand market.

The earlier issue with EVs in the New Zealand market used to be that they can be quite tricky to get your hands on, well it is no more. Every year more manufacturers are bringing electric cars into the country, such as Hyundai, BMW and Volkswagen, helping to widen our choices and availability. The initial cost can also be quite off-putting for some, but it helps to look at things in the long run. Think about all the future fuel savings that you could benefit from. Plus, EVs are currently exempt from paying Road User Charges tax, which is a saving of about $600 a year.

According to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) an EV costs the equivalent of 30 cents per litre to run, which is seven times cheaper than petrol. Their online tool also shows that although you pay more upfront for an EV than a regular petrol or diesel car, after just a few years of owning that EV you could have paid off the price premium and start to save money by reduced running costs.

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