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Motoring

EVs Unleashed: The Future Isn’t Coming, It’s Plugged In Already!

Kiss goodbye to petrol station visits. Your wallet and the planet will thank you
Despite legacy auto and oil industry misinformation campaigns, electric vehicles (EVs) made up 19% of 2023 NZ car registrations. (Source: https://evdb.nz/). The Tesla Model Y was the world’s best-selling car in 2023, regardless of category.  On this exponential growth trajectory, EVs will dominate global sales within five years, and sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars fuelled by petrol and diesel will be in the rearview mirror. Now imagine a scenario where a long-term EV owner with little knowledge of ICE cars ponders whether they might be better and is deciding whether to switch. What are the big questions an EV owner should ask about the fossil-fuelled option?
  • Home-charging my EV to full at off-peak night rates at the equivalent of 40 cents a litre covers all Coromandel trips and return trips to Tauranga, Hamilton, and Auckland (95% of my driving). How much time will I waste filling up at petrol stations?
  • Modern EV batteries will outlast the car (300,000 – 500,000 km) and can then be used for another 10 years as a stationary electricity storage device.  After that, 98% of the minerals can be endlessly recycled for new batteries.  Can petrol and diesel be recycled after being burned?
  • The ICE car I test-drove lagged between pressing the gas and gaining speed.It felt like something was broken. And it jerked as gears changed (whatever gears are?) Is this normal in ICE cars?
  • My cobalt and nickel-free EV has battery tech steeply declining in cost. Sodium-ion batteries will bring even greater affordability. An EV already has price parity with an equivalent ICE when the total cost of ownership over 5 years is calculated. (Source: ECCA) . Meanwhile, oil is finite, and prices have surged. Should an ICE car’s future value be a concern, as EVs will soon be cheaper than ICE and the market for ICE will nosedive?
  • My EV has 20 moving parts and only tyres and windscreen washer fluid have required replacement. How often will the ICE car’s 2000 moving parts require servicing, and at what cost?
  • In an ICE car, do I get fuel back when driving downhill like in an EV where the battery charge increases?
  • Can I accelerate and brake with just one pedal (accelerator) as I do with the regenerative braking in my EV?
  • ICE cars have at least 20 times the fire risk of an EV: (Source: Norway data) Should I be concerned?
  • I can power my home for days in a power cut and power up electric appliances on a road trip or in a caravan (yes, they can tow boats and caravans). I will be able to help stabilize our electricity grid at peak times as EV ‘Vehicle to Grid’ tech matures.  Can an ICE do any of this?
  • CO2 emissions are reduced by 80% when EVs are used in NZ, and vehicle lifecycle CO2 emissions are 60% lower than ICE. (improving as EV makers access more renewable energy. (Source: NZ Climate Commission) Should I ignore the best climate action someone can take?
  • My EV receives regular major software upgrades by Wi-Fi at home, like my smartphone. Can many new ICE cars do this?
  • Homegrown renewable electric power (the amount committed has doubled in 18 months. Source: Electricity Authority), or OPEC oil cartel price fixing beyond our control?
  • 2,200 premature deaths (six times the road toll), 9000 extra hospitalisations and 13,000 cases of childhood asthma are caused by petrol/diesel tailpipe particulate pollution each year, costing us $10.5 billion. (Source: HAPINZ 3.0) An EV has zero tailpipe pollution. Should I ignore ICE’s contribution?
  • $8-9 billion. That’s what NZ pays foreign oil producers yearly, enriching price-fixing cartels. EVs offer an escape hatch: they tap abundant renewable low emission electric power and ditch dependence, Should I be in or out?
  • 91% of EV owners would never return to an ICE car. (UK survey) What does this tell you?
My advice: Be very sceptical of social media material. Test drive an EV and experience for yourself the environmental/health benefits, the smooth quiet ride, the fun of instant torque, the low maintenance, and energy security and cost benefits. Kiss goodbye to petrol station visits. Your wallet and the planet will thank you., Further reading: https://driveelectric.org.nz/state-of-the-nation-report/   About Denis: Thames resident for 50 years, Denis Tegg is a veteran former lawyer and Waikato Regional Council elected member for Coromandel, who champions sustainable solutions – from cleaner transport to greener food and energy – through research and advocacy. Denis will be our Guest Editor for a stint and Ross Liggins will return after that. We are most appreciative of the grateful of the  contributions of our Guest Editors.