Rockin’ Down to Electric Avenue

With both the knee and the sheep well on the road to recovery, here’s the post we planned almost a month ago

Yep, we gone done and did it; we rocked on down and brought ourselves an electric car.

Now, while I know this is now pretty tried and true technology and possibly a little ho hum for some of you, it was still a very big deal for us. Parting with our dollars is something we take seriously and we expect our vehicles to repay our strictly scheduled visits to our local mechanic by living long and healthy lives. Has the innovation behind and development of an electric powered vehicle reached a stage to warrant our trusting investment? Would our coffers be able to stretch to one with the capability of travelling the distance we require. Oh, the soul searching, research, and number crunching.

Being staunch advocates of treading lightly on this planet, electric seemed an obvious choice when the Cube gasped its last, but we found opinion around the actual greenness of electricity very divided. Various articles we read puts the blame for climate change squarely on petrol and diesel powered vehicles; emissions, carbon footprint and all that. Like all of those sort of black-and-white writings, there were definite holes in the arguments, claims and counterclaims, but the benefit of reducing The Homestead’s input of gases into the atmosphere seemed like something worth definite consideration. Then we read the production of the lithium-ion batteries electric vehicles require emit huge amounts of CO2 (1.43 times that of the production of an internal combustion engine) and there’s also the question of manner in which your supply of electricity is produced. Here in New Zealand, a nuclear-free country, around 85% of our energy comes from hydro, geothermal, wind and solar. We felt that put a tick firmly in the electric column. That tick was somewhat smudged by our research into cobalt mining.

Slightly depressed, I started down the whole do we even need another vehicle path thus spurring a spirited Needs Verses Wants debate. A couple of weeks without the Cube was enough to show how difficult life can be when you are forever coordinating your travel plans and errands.

So, we did it; after careful consideration and much debate we brought home our Nissan Leaf.

Sadly, folk with busted knees dodge the extra cleaning duties a black car that regularly drives on open roads requires – there’s gotta be some perks!

And, what do we think?

The Engineer has recently purchased a hybrid vehicle so we had a basic understanding of the workings but taking the plunge to fully electric worried me in particular. As far as I could see, hybrid hedged your bets – gave you a foot in each camp – whereas we were looking as putting all our fuel eggs in one basket. I had visions of us running out of zing half way home or being reduced to knocking on friend’s doors with power cord in hand. In fact, we had recently witnessed someone fueling up a generator roadside for that very reason and that can’t be good.

Doing our homework, we discovered that there were two options for us to consider when it came to “range” – how far the vehicle would travel per charge. As we live about 40 kilometres out of Christchurch, our usual destination, we opted for the larger range: 150ish km. Our first few drives were white knuckle affairs as we watched the dash readouts, whooping when the lights went into the green indicating we were actually generating a bit of zip. We’ve found that a round trip into town uses about 60 km worth of charge; 20 there and 40 back highlighting the 200 metre above sea level climb, mainly open road, Canterbury Plains driving. That leaves plenty of charge in reserve for errand running and tootling around. Speaking of which, the charging is really simple and hasn’t hugely impacted on our power bill; whatever increase is more than covered by savings on fuel.

Charging is easy – the car plugged in, all cosied up with the garage detritus

Perhaps we would think twice before embarking on an extensive road trip, particularly as New Zealand is still setting up a comprehensive network of charging points, but that was never our intention for this vehicle.

I found the dash a little scary initially

In short, we’re sold. It’s peppy, easy to drive once we got used to the different symbols on the dash, has all the whistles and bells we’re used to plus a few more we’re still learning about and totally holds its own on the open road. The only little thing is, not having the combustion engine noise, we can sneak up on both people and livestock so you need to be a little more vigilant in carparks, around pedestrians – and our driveway when Miss Chip-Chip Duck is taking her morning constitutional.

Electric cars…whatever next?!

11 thoughts on “Rockin’ Down to Electric Avenue

  1. Oh, I am so envious! Wonderful that you bought an electric car. Yes, of course resources are used to manufacture this car, but compared to a combustion engine, the electric car is so much easier on the environment. One of my good friends has an electric car, and she loves it.

    • Thanks, Laurie. New technology is a little scary but we’re pleased we were brave enough to take the leap….and it also kind of makes up for also owning a dirty diesel ute. We are definitely not saints 🙂

      • We won’t be applying for sainthood any time soon. We are very conscious of our carbon, and except for visiting our daughter in Massachusetts, we limit our driving. However, we sometimes use gas heaters to heat our house, and a lot of the food that we buy has quite the carbon footprint. Still, we aim to live as lightly as our budget allows. Just as you do.

  2. Our car generates an artificial sound when it is doing less than 19 mph specifically to give warning of approach in car parks and such. I love driving our Zoe so I hope that you continue to enjoy your Leaf. It has tuned me into a very peaceful driver, though the zippy acceleration makes overtaking much safer than with a conventional small petrol car.

  3. Well done. We had plans to downsize our minivan to a Leaf, having gone through much the same angst riddled contortions of thought as you, but with me likely to need a wheelchair in the next couple of years, it might be too small. We’re hoping they’ll come out with an e-SUV soon….

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