Buyers' Guide: The way of the future is on charge
AA Motoring on pros and cons of electric vehicles
The introduction of hybrid vehicles into the automotive market took a little while to get used to but now they’re becoming more common and are gradually blending into our daily commute.
Sales of fully electric vehicles (EV) are even on the up as they become faster and more aesthetically pleasing.
There are still some myths or gaps in knowledge about EVs, however, that lead many drivers to stick with what they know best and avoid entering
the EV market. Let’s help to clear up some of that.
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 8-10 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 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.
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 cheaper, such as the Nissan Leaf, which offers a 100km-150km range. More expensive models such as the Tesla Model S can run for about 500km, 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, 18mm x 65mm 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. It has also introduced its Model 3 with a smaller price tag, offering a medium range of around 346km. However, even if you put a US$1000 deposit down today, the first shipment here isn’t until 2018. For some Kiwis, a more affordable, smaller EV may still be suitable. On average, New Zealanders commute about 28km each day, so they can make great second vehicles for the everyday errands with plenty of range to spare.
What’s the performance 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 0-100 km/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.
These vehicles are currently available as new only through parallel importing. But, even the lower cost EVs have an acceptable performance of 0-100 km/h in 9 seconds, which can be bought as new in the New Zealand market.
This year more manufacturers, such as Renault, BMW and Volkswagen, are bringing electric cars into the country. The initial cost can also be off-putting, 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 exempt from paying Road User Charges tax, which is a saving of about $600 a year.
According to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority an EV costs the equivalent of 30c a litre to run, which is seven times cheaper than petrol. The authority’s 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 you could have paid off the price premium.