There’s been some interesting chatter around the community lately. If you’re tuned into the Electric Vehicle (EV) community, it’s even louder.
What is it? Well Electric Vehicles!
We’ve had the roll out of the rapid chargers, with Charge.Net, kick into gear and we’ve also had a few from Vector too. Z is developing their strategy with a partnership with Charge.Net for rapid chargers and Gull have installed a number of convenience chargers too. Oh and Spark are trailing adding EV charging to phone boxes too! So it’s all starting to move.
In the last few months, we’ve had several 6pm news stories about the Tesla S electric vehicles and their phenomenal performance. This one is drag racing V8 supercars Even Kapiti Coast District Council has got on the bandwagon with their electric rubbish trucks.
And on the other side Mike Hosking’s has been making himself look like troll, with an EV rant. If you watch it, be aware it wasn’t based on any New Zealand facts and he’s never been in an EV, so actually has no clue what he was on about. Though Karma is an interesting thing, Mike choking on a lump of pineapple
Then there’s the US oil Baron’s, the Koch’s, having a crack too. Which has coined the phrase ‘Don’t be a Koch, Drive an Electric Vehicle’
The noise is developing; it’s starting to break through in the media. It's starting to break through in social contacts and we’re seeing EV’s on the road more often. In the last 12 months EV numbers in New Zealand have doubled, from about 500 to just over 1000 with more starting to arrive daily.
From a visibility standpoint, 6 months ago you might have seen 1 or 2 EV’s a week, now I’m seeing 3-4 per day. With the big boys now getting involved. VW following the emissions scandal have the e-golf with more on the way, BMW have the i3 and the i8, Mercedes have something in development, Mitsubishi have a Plug in hybrid SUV, Nissan have the Leaf with Toyota being the only one trying to buck the tend with hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell development. And there are others on the way, with the Volt being remodelled and relaunched the Bolt.
Where am I going with this?
With the Nissan Leaf being the most popular Electric Vehicle on the market with 200,000 of them out there since 2010 when the first ones were released. We’re starting to see some with some significant km’s on them. The Tesla S is a reasonably close second with 100,000 cars in a bit over 3 years and a number are being used for taxis around the world.
One of the major concerns the public seems to have with EV’s are the batteries. What they’re made from, how long they will last and how do we dispose of them.
This EECA Report, yes a New Zealand one, covers off most of the concerns and basically says EV is better than ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) across the full lifecycle, raw materials to recycling.
Interestingly enough there’s been several good articles on EV batteries too. One perception I need to clear up; while they are named Lithium ion batteries, they aren’t actually made from lithium. The ‘Lithium’ bit is made from a salt, so they aren’t depleting rare earth minerals anymore than your internal combustion engine car is.
What’s interesting are the reports starting to come out demonstrating the longevity of the battery technology. Yes, sure there’s room for improvement, but right now it is a viable option.
Battery care is one of the things that is proving to be important to battery life.
Basically the battery reporting is suggesting New Zealand is a great country to adopt EV. With our relatively temperate climate. Only a few days a year is it really hot enough to push on the batteries but still nowhere near 40 degrees, and again on the cold side, yes it snows, but it’s not minus 20 either.
What you need to keep in mind to ensure your EV battery has a long life
- Not running them completely flat
- Not over charging them
- or having them sit fully charged for too long
- Not having them too hot
- Not having them too cold
- If you’re in the north of northern hemisphere or middle east, you have temperature issues to consider and manage.
Behaviour around what you do is going to be important, but not unmanageable. Regular top ups charges of batteries seem to keep them running fine. With the typical daily commute less than 50kms, the charging cycle, even on the early Leaf’s, is going to be quite shallow and manageable.
We’re starting to see the early adopters in the transport industry, Taxi’s, starting to show off their great decision to go EV, with cars showing up with 120,000 kms on them and the battery is still showing almost factory capacity. That’s pretty good in my book for what is fairly heavy use.
The more I look into the EV world and what’s going on, the more I look at what we’re doing with ICE and shake my head. Burning decomposed dinosaurs, no longer makes sense. Certainly if we want to avoid our major cities becoming smog ridden, the transfer to EV is an effective and efficient way for us to do that.
EV’s and self driving EV’s are going to change the way we look at transport. Our current measure of km’s to measure the life of the car, or more specifically the motor, is likely to be turned on it’s head. Even the idea of km’s for a ICE car is out of whack as the time the engine is running, determines when it really need servicing. Well it does for every other ICE except a vehicle ;)
EV has very little wear and almost no servicing requirements (cooling systems, brakes, tyres and suspension) which means cars with 100’s of 1,000’s of km’s are going to be possible. Wear on the interior and paint fading are likely to be the measures in the future.
Oh and about the crack, ‘What’s the point of EV when the electricity is generated with fossil fuels?’ Maybe the case in Aussie with their brown coal plants, but not here in NZ.
With 79% of the NZ electricity grid being renewable and EV’s mostly charging at night. Our ability in New Zealand to adapt and move with the changes coming is well positioned, without putting the existing electricity network under too much pressure.
There’s food for thought and an open mind is needed. The business case for EV’s is here, not in the future but here now. Most EV owners aren’t mung bean, sprout eating greenies, they are normal people with an interest in something new and environmentally friendly. Most skite about the fuel and servicing savings and also the time they don’t hang around forecourts waiting to fuel up. When they do need a charge, they’re saying it’s nice to plug in have a break with a coffee and maybe lunch.
That’s food for the soul as we don’t take enough downtime during the day either. Maybe the Mediterranean midday siesta should be considered, plug your car in and have a nap?
What to know more?
Do some of your own research or just ask questions, check out the NZ EV Owners group on FaceBook.
Finishing up on family values, mybe EV will bring families together for the traditional family Sunday lunch more ;)
The comments on this blog are mine alone. Being formally trained as an electronic engineer in a past life and also a petrol head, I have an interest in seeing EV technology flourish. While a V8 might sound great, frankly that’s the only thing going for them anymore!