Thinking of getting onboard the electric vehicle trend? With the ever increasing price of fuel, and an increased interest in sustainable living, EVs are set to slowly but surely rise in popularity on Kiwi roads. Luckily, more EV options mean they no longer have to dampen your swag. Newer models can also travel longer distances, and are available in SUVs and minivans to fit the whole family.
Which type of EV?
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)
A BEV, also known as a pure electric vehicle, works with an electric traction motor, powered by electricity stored inside a large battery. Many mainstream EVs use a lithium ion battery – the same that powers our personal devices. When the battery gets low, simply charged the car at home or a public charging station.
As well as no petrol, BEVs have no exhaust, clutch or gears, no spark plugs. With only 20 moving parts in an electric engine compared with nearly 2,000 in a standard engine, they require less maintenance, and make for a peacefully quiet ride. You can also drive guilt-free, producing zero emissions.
However you are limited in the distance you can travel, depending on the capacity of the battery. Newer models generally have a longer driving range (up to 400km), but can come with a hefty price tag.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
If you like the idea of an EV but can’t quite commit, a plug-in hybrid might be a good compromise. You have an unlimited driving range, since you can switch to petrol at any point. You can opt for a petrol engine for long trips while using electric for your everyday around town. This option obviously requires petrol costs when required, as well as the maintenance costs of a standard petrol car.
Hybrid vehicles, such as the standard Toyota Prius, while more fuel efficient than a petrol car, aren’t technically electric vehicles. Batteries are charged by re-capturing energy while braking or from electricity generated by the engine.
How do they charge?
With a standard charging cable, you can plug a car straight into your standard wall socket for overnight charging. It takes approximately 10-18 hours of charge for 100km drive.
A fast charger, like the ones at public charging stations, will get you 100km range in 20-30 minutes. You can also have these installed at home.
How much does an EV cost in New Zealand?
The cost of charging an EV is equivalent to paying around 30c per litre for petrol. Depending on the model, you can charge your EV while you sleep for about $3.00 per 100km. A fast charge at home will take 20-30minutes and will cost up to $10 for 100km. So you’ll save at the pump, but upfront cost of the vehicle is more than standard fossil fuel cars.
The cheapest options are generally Mitsubishi i-MiEV or first generation Nissan Leaf, whose limited electric range won’t get you much further than running your errands around town. You’ll be looking to part with at least $12k for a decent version which includes a charging cable.
Newer Nissan Leafs have a range of 170km and can be fast-charged. Toyota PlugIn Prius is mid-size plug-in hybrid at an affordable price point around $35,000 used. If you prefer your cars European the VW e-Golf will cost around $40-60,000 imported.
It seems nearly all luxury car brands have gotten on board the EV train. Audi, Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Tesla and Volvo all offer the same lush features and advanced performance in electric models.
Larger vehicles also now have a handful of EV options too. Nissan’s EV van (e-NV200) will set you back from $20 – 50,000. Hyundai Kona and and Kia Niro SUV options have impressive ranges over 400km, but will set you back around $74,000. There are also of course the Tesla SUVs, with Model X priced from $139,000. With a burst of new large EVs hitting the market recently, there should be more available in the used market in the coming years.