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Electric Vehicles ‘Plugging In’

June 9, 2021 June 2021 No Comments

The Climate Change Commission has recently recommended that battery powered vehicles be widely adopted. It is, they believe, the key to New Zealand reducing emissions sufficiently to play our part in avoiding catastrophic climate change, particularly considering a third of our emissions come from either petrol or diesel. 

There is some negativity towards electric cars. One of the most frequently mentioned issues relates to the production of the batteries, which it is argued comes at the expense of environmental and human damage and creates toxic waste. There is no denying this fact.  Laptops, phones, tablets, scooters, and electric bikes also require the same elements.  

But it is worthwhile remembering that petrol and oil production also creates environmental damage. Over 8 million people die each year from air pollution caused by breathing tiny fossil fuel particles. But because we have been reliant on this technology for so long, we tend to take it for granted. We just want to travel when and where we wish. We want to remain connected through our phones and laptops.  However, there is already significant research and development occurring to improve recycling processes for batteries, extending battery life, and converting spent batteries into power storage banks.

Jenny Wilkie bought their first Nissan Leaf in September 2017. The reason? “I just thought it would be a good idea and I wanted to do something more environmentally friendly. Simultaneously we installed solar panels so in the summer we charge our car using these. In the future we may be able to use our expired battery as a storage unit to supplement our solar power”. 

Bruce and Jude Congalton say that one of things they love about their Nissan Leaf is being in control of the fuelling. “We no longer go to the petrol station. We chose a Nissan Leaf because it had the best and longest history for electric cars. As for charging it is easy to manage. We have a night rate from Meridian so we charge overnight, or sometimes charge using our own solar power”.

Roger Gaskill has had his Tesla for 3 and a half years. “I once had a diesel vehicle which I thought could not be surpassed, but now I would not be without my EV. We regularly drive to Taupo and go to the South Island or North to Auckland. Our car is a 100kw model and provides a range of 550 km. Now I can’t imagine driving anything else.”

As a retired electrical engineer, Peter Graham was attracted to buying an electric car because he wanted to experience the difference. “I wanted to learn first-hand how to use them for a comfortable way of commuting and see how far they would go. I decided it was better to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  It was something tangible I could do in the time left that I have on the planet for my children and grandchildren. 

So, what is it like to have an electric car? It is quiet. The running costs are insignificant compared to a petrol or diesel alternative. A return trip to Wellington from Martinborough costs just $11.00. They are fast. A touch of the accelerator and you are off. There is little maintenance. For around town or travelling between the Wairarapa towns it is easy. There and back again. Just plug in to recharge overnight.  

Lyle Griffiths

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