Me & My Car: Have charger, will travel
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David King, corporate affairs manager, Ryman Healthcare
Tell us about your car.
It is a 2013 Nissan Leaf, pearl in colour which is like an off-white. It is not the flashest car on the road, but it is electric.
When did you buy it?
I bought it second-hand with 50,000km on the clock. We bought it from a dealer. My daughter thought it would be good to buy from him because he seemed nice and did not have many customers or cars to sell ...
Why did you choose electric?
I chose it because I’d just read Elon Musk’s biography. Although I think Teslas are great and I loved the logic behind going electric, I couldn’t afford a Tesla. But I thought that once one of the big car companies switched on to electric production, the world would change. Then I discovered Nissan did this in 2010 — Nissan Leafs are the world’s most popular production electric car and they are incredibly reliable.
Since then it is like every story I read involves EVs. Volvo has announced it is going all electric and Britain and France are banning diesel by 2040. I think we are past tipping point. Fossil fuel cars are like Blackberrys, electric cars are iPhones.
What do you like about the Leaf?
I like that it costs $360 a year for electricity, there is no registration charge and the only wear and tear is the tyres. There are no oil changes. My previous car was a 1995 diesel Pajero with 300,000km on the clock. I used to spend about $4000 a year to keep it on the road, so I’ve cut my costs by 90 per cent. The Leaf will pay for itself. It is incredibly fun to drive, handles well and it is safe and modern. Legend has it the first generation Leafs were over-powered, and they wound back the engines after that. It goes like the clappers. And it cost $13,000. And there is no exhaust pipe, and no emissions.
How does your car fit your personality?
It isn’t the coolest car on the road and I’m not the coolest guy on the road, so it is a good match. I am part-Scottish, so it fits my fondness for penny-pinching efficiency.
Is this your first electric car?
Where do you charge it?
It plugs into the house and charges overnight — but I only need to charge it every second or third day. It is programmed to charge during the early hours when power is off-peak, and it is set to warm the cabin for work. This is handy in a Christchurch winter.
You have embraced electric? And can you see yourself in a driverless car?
I have half-embraced it. We have four children, so there are six of us to transport around. The Leaf is great for short runs, but we still need a bigger car for flexibility. I don’t like the idea of driverless cars because I like driving.
Do have contact with other electric drivers?
Yes, there is a huge electric car community on Facebook and a growing business in looking after them. It is fast becoming a cult car. We all park together at the mall where they give you free electricity while you shop.
Anything else in your “garage”?
A Toyota Previa shares the drive with the Leaf; the garage is dedicated to storage.
Who else drives your Leaf?
My wife, and my eldest daughter will be learning to drive in it next year. It is possible my daughter will never drive a petrol car.
Your dream car?
A Leaf people mover.
How often do you clean your car?
Not often enough.
What do you always keep in it?
First car you owned?
Toyota Corolla. I loved it.
Who taught you to drive?
Mum. She had nerves of steel.
Most memorable road trip in the Leaf?
Driving to work for the first time and taking all my work colleagues for rides in it. It was their first experience of an electric car — it is great when they realise how quiet and smooth they are.
Is it a problem having a car that is so quiet?
Only in car parks, you have to be extra cautious.