Low-emissions future . . . EV owner Martin Kane, of Timaru, says misconceptions keep people from choosing to buy low and zero emissions vehicles. PHOTO: HELEN HOLT

by Helen Holt

A Timaru electric vehicle owner says myths are one of the biggest barriers to choosing low-emission vehicles.

Martin Kane bought his first electric vehicle in 2014, and became a pioneer in New Zealand, winning Ecotricity EV champion of the year in 2018.

He said there were many misconceptions about EVs.

“The biggest barriers for buying one are the cost and myths.

“People believe that you have to replace the battery on an EV every four years, which is untrue.

“My 2012 Nissan Leaf still has 70% of its battery life capacity from when it was brand new.

“I could replace the battery when its capacity goes down to 100km at a time, but I believe it would be better to sell it to someone where the car fits that person’s needs.”

The majority of EVs could charge up to 250km or 400km, and lost 1%-2% of battery capacity each year.

“It is perfectly good for nipping around town in.

“It’s only when you drive long distances that the battery life becomes challenging.”

There were only a few parts of the country that did not have charging stations, including Milford Sound.

Mr Kane said the ute tax was misinterpreted as disadvantaging farmers.

“We underestimate farmers, because climate change affects them, too.

” As soon as a suitable EV ute becomes available, I’m sure farmers will be the first to get them.”

If there was no incentive for manufacturers to send good vehicles, they would keep sending the cheap ones.

“The emission fees are aimed at the manufacturers, to tell them that New Zealand doesn’t want these vehicles.”

He said there was an electric ute from Rivian which was being tested near Queenstown, and it could carry five tonnes.

Mr Kane bought his first EV in 2014 because he wanted to help slow climate change.

He also liked to use locally produced energy instead of fuel from overseas.

“It’s all about being self-sufficient, so we don’t have to rely on other countries for fuel.

“My family would save $3500 a year on fuel since we switched from fossil car to EV.”

He enjoyed the quiet engine and waking up to a fully charged car every morning, that warmed up straight away on cold days.

Five debunked myths about Electric Vehicles

1. Not enough range

How far can an EV travel on a full charge?

The lowest-priced new EV for sale in New Zealand EV (from $48,990 + on-road costs) 44.5kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that offers a very usable driving range of up to 263km from a single charge, according to the WLTP combined cycle.

Even with a used second-generation Nissan Leaf (with 10 bars or more) you should be able to achieve about 100km, and at the top end, the $159,990 (+ORC) Tesla Model S Long Range is capable of 663km on a full charge.

2. EVs are too expensive

During a recent AA survey, 59% of people said EVs cost too much for what they are.

While some electric vehicles are on the pricier side, there are quite a few options that are under $70,000 (+ORC).

We’ve already touched on the MG ZS EV, which is available at a similar price point to a mid-spec Mazda CX-5.

There are also several electric hatches here in New Zealand, such as the Mini Electric from $60,400 (+ORC), the Nissan Leaf $61,990 (+ORC), the Hyundai Ioniq from $65,990 (+ORC) and the Volkswagen e-Golf from $69,490 (+ORC).

The entry-level Tesla Model 3 recently had a price reduction and is now available from $69,990 (+ORC).

3. EV batteries don’t last

Even the cheapest EV has an eight-year, 160,000km warranty on the high voltage EV battery, so manufacturers have good confidence in the durability of their batteries.

EV batteries can also take on a second life once they become too depleted to run a car. Take Volvo for example, which has a collaboration with BatteryLoop, a company within the Swedish Stena Recycling Group that reuses batteries from the automotive industry.

Starting from this April, BatteryLoop and Volvo Cars have been using batteries from electrified Volvo cars for a solar-powered energy storage system. This system powers charging stations for electrified cars and electric bikes at Swedish hygiene and health firm Essity’s business centre outside of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Here in New Zealand, the AA is heavily involved with the Battery Industry Group which has designed a product stewardship scheme for large batteries, which includes utilising car batteries after they have been removed from cars.

4. Charging takes forever

Again, if we look at the MG ZS EV, most owners will only charge their car on a regular 7kW wall charger, which takes about seven hours. It can also be rapidly charged in 45 minutes to 80% on a quicker public charger.

The new Porsche Taycan is equipped with a new 800-volt charging technology along with an innovative temperature control strategy for the battery. This allows the vehicle to be charged with higher direct currents, thus speeding up the charging process significantly. For example, in just over five minutes the battery can be recharged to gain a range of up to 100km (according to WLTP), and the charging time from 5% to 80% is less than 23 minutes.

5. EVs are boring and slow

Some still hang on to an historic notion of EVs being slow, possibly based on older lead acid battery EVs of the past.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about EVs, as the instant torque found produced by electric motors make them, in many ways, sportier than their petrol equivalents.

The Porsche Taycan Turbo S is available from $289,900 (+ORC) and can do 0kmh-100kmh in just 2.6 seconds, and Tesla’s coming Plaid variants will be able to hit 100kmh in as little as 2.1 seconds.

Even the entry-level Tesla Model 3 can dash from 0kmh-100kmh in 5.6 seconds.