This post was originally published by Joy Hewitt on LinkedIn and has been reposted with permission.
I'm pretty sure the only thing I've ever won (well, apart from a boxing match but that's a different kind of winning) was petrol vouchers, courtesy of Duncan Garner on Radio Live one dreary winter days drive home from work.
Fast forward a few years and I've just won a months use of a Electric Vehicle thanks to Westpac New Zealand and Hyundai NZ. First petrol vouchers for the car, and now a car that doesn't even use petrol...there's irony in there right?
This time however, I had to do more than just ring a radio station at a certain time; I first had to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to spot one of Westpac's new fleet of EV's*. Then I had to snap a photo of said vehicle (easily done when you are both sitting at traffic lights), and post it up on their Facebook page. Ahhh the power of social media!
This brings me to today - my months test drive is complete. Having never driven an electric vehicle before, I really didn't know what to expect, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share my experience. Mine is not to provide a technical review of the vehicle - let's face it, I'm no mechanic. I'm a Business Development Manager, who just happens to be the lucky recipient afforded the opportunity to discover what it's really like to drive an EV.
So, what was I driving?
Well, this particular model was the Hyundai IONIQ Electric - 100% fully electric, zero emissions, and with a range of 200km.
Let's start with the most obvious feature - it's electric, so it's stealthily quiet. In fact, the car is so quiet, it has a button you can push to activate an external sound when travelling at low speeds, I guess for pedestrian safety?
Think of the Prius Taxis you hear go past, that kind of space ship sound...
Charging. The BIGGEST thing you need to remember when driving.
The car came with 2 charging cables in the boot; the first allowed me to plug the car in to any standard power point, while the second meant I could connect to alternative public charging stations.
But after first charging it in the garage, I decided that 13 hours for a half battery charge was not going to cut it, so I opted instead to charge from the ChargeNet stations dotted around Wellington.
With these stations, you simply download an app on your phone, load a credit card, pull up to a station, activate via the app, plug in using one of their 2 charging cables, and wait. Roughly speaking the car would get around 80% charge in 40mins. Soooo fast!
The only downside to this was that living in Upper Hutt, there is only one station. Lower Hutt has two. Wellington has four in the CBD and one at the airport. So quite often I would pull up to find the spaces taken and have to wait.
Smart Cruise Control - the car uses radar technology to automatically maintain a safe speed and distance from the vehicle in front of you.
This feature came in VERY handy on my travels from Upper Hutt to Lower Hutt or Wellington. I could set the speed to 100kph and not have to worry as the car would brake to slow itself down as needed, in order to retain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
I must confess to keeping my foot hovering near the brake though, as to fully rely on a car at 100kph was a mental challenge.
Apple CarPlay or Android Auto - with this function, you simply plug your phone into the USB port, and via the touch screen on the dashboard, I was able to use many of my phones features, including using Siri, calling, texting and listening to music.
Seat adjust - I have to say, it did seem odd to have manual seat adjustment in a 2018 car lol.
How about running costs you ask?
Well, given I pretty much only charged in public places, this is a difficult one to guesstimate...however, let's try, starting at the ACTUAL cost, not the anticipated cost if I owned an EV and charged at home....
I spent just over $200 in the 4 weeks I had the car. This was averaging 250-300km per week.
Now, bear in mind every time I charged at a Charge Net station, the cost was 25c per kWh PLUS 25c per minute I was there. So immediately, I'll take off the surcharge and drop this to $100 (you wouldn't pay a surcharge at home.)
I'm also reasonably sure the per kWh charge a consumer would pay at home, is between 16-22c? So, the $100 would reduce even further.
I'm not entirely sure how to work it out, as at home, one would need to charge longer, and the special home charging packs may work differently, but I think it's safe to assume the cost could be further reduced from my $100 per month?
I'd love to hear from any of you who own an EV and can shed some light on your costs?
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience.
The car was a beautiful, smooth drive and had a level of power I really didn't expect from an electric car. Once I got used to planning ahead each day, I cracked it.
So, if you're feeling the pinch of ongoing rising petrol costs, or maybe you are keen to reduce your environmental footprint, perhaps it's time to at least consider an electric vehicle...
*Westpac has recently added almost 100 electric vehicles (EVs) as part of a commitment by 30 of New Zealand’s biggest corporates to transition 30% of their fleets to electric by 2019.