Disruptive Technology or Sensible Solution?

Published: Fri 26 Sep 2014 05:30 PM
For Immediate Release
Disruptive Technology or Sensible Solution?
The West family have been driving electric vehicles for over two years now. In that time they have driven their full EV cars (a 2012 Nissan Leaf and a 2012 Tesla Roadster) a combined 60,000km. They have avoided using 6,000 litres of petrol ($12,500 worth).
Why isn’t everyone driving EV?
There are a number of obstacles to the mass adoption of Electric Vehicles in New Zealand.
- Education. There are many myths and misunderstandings about the realities of driving electric cars.
- Price. New EVs range in price from $40k for the Nissan Leaf to over $100k for the Tesla Model S. The availability of used EVs ex-Japan has helped, eg Nissan Leafs available for $25k.
- Infrastructure. The NZ electricity grid is modern, efficient, and highly sustainable. Every EV can charge (slowly) from a regular outlet, but for trips beyond an EV’s battery range to be convenient requires deployment of rapid charging facilities.
Common myths about EVs
- “They will overload the grid.” Most EV charging is done at night, when the grid is idle. The energy needed to power 100% of NZ’s light passenger vehicles with electricity is about the same as Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter consumes.
- “EVs are worse for the environment.” The lithium batteries used in modern EVs are clean, reusable, recyclable, and long lasting. Tesla and Panasonic are building a solar powered facility in Nevada dubbed The Gigafactory to produce battery technology for EV and a variety other uses which will make battery cell technology even more sustainable.
- “They are slow to charge.” It is a mistake to think about EV charging the same way as filling a petrol tank. Instead of letting the “tank” get empty, EV drivers plug their car in every night, and it is full in the morning. So how long does it take to charge an EV? In reality, about 10 seconds. (The time it takes you to plug your car in.)
- “EV are only golf cart commuter cars and do not have the range I need.” The West family have driven all over the North Island in their Tesla Roadster, including from Auckland to Taupo. With even a small charging infrastructure, you could drive the length of the country and only have to stop every few hours to charge. A half charge is complete in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee and eat a sandwich.
Steve West recently returned to New Zealand after and extensive trip that included attending the annual Electric Vehicle Conference (EVCONN) and collecting his customized luxury Tesla Model S from the Netherlands and driving it to Southampton for shipment to New Zealand.
The family will be hosting a landing party for New Zealand’s first Tesla Model S so that members of the press can test drive and participate in a fishbowl discussion about EV, disruptive tech and sustainability issues with a panel of experts.
Dee and Steve West plan to drive their Model S from Cape Reinga to Bluff, to further dispel the many inaccuracies and myths surrounding EV tech.
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