Monday, July 24, 2023

Waiting for the EV! Changing our minds


For those following along, it is not news that the climate is seriously overheated and we have to decarbonise immediately. Every tonne of C02 we save is worth it. Read about it here  but it is not hopeless, eg read about it in NZ -here

We have wanted an electric vehicle for a long time but they are expensive in Australia, so much so that when we bought our last vehicle 6 years ago, we could not make the numbers work even though I factored in  years of savings of buying petrol into the purchase price. EVs are expensive in Australia. 

There is a lot of anxiety about owning an electric vehicle in Australia, judging by the comments we see online and get from people in our community. Unlike places in Europe, the numbers are small, the distances are large and the distribution of public EV chargers is patchy. 

I read Saul Griffith's book "The Big Switch Australia's electric future". Read a summary here 

"Climate change is a planetary emergency. We have to do something now-but what? Saul Griffith has a plan. In Electrify, Griffith lays out a detailed blueprint-optimistic but feasible-for fighting climate change while creating millions of new jobs and a healthier environment. Griffith's plan can be summed up simply: electrify everything. He explains exactly what it would take to transform our infrastructure, update our grid, and adapt our households to make this possible. Billionaires may contemplate escaping our worn-out planet on a private rocket ship to Mars, but the rest of us, Griffith says, will stay and fight for the future.

"Griffith, an engineer and inventor, calls for grid neutrality, ensuring that households, businesses, and utilities operate as equals; we will have to rewrite regulations that were created for a fossil-fueled world, mobilize industry as we did in World War II, and offer low-interest "climate loans." Griffith's plan doesn't rely on big, not-yet-invented innovations, but on thousands of little inventions and cost reductions. We can still have our cars and our houses-but the cars will be electric and solar panels will cover our roofs. For a world trying to bounce back from a pandemic and economic crisis, there is no other project that would create as many jobs-up to twenty-five million, according to one economic analysis. Is this politically possible? We can change politics along with everything else".

What happened next?

When we noticed that there was a company started up in Australia with the purpose of improving the uptake of EVs by importing second hand models from Japan, we were intrigued. As it says on their website: 

"It's as simple as changing our habits and showing a desire to adopt new ways of being.

We have the power to write our own stories and create the future we want. We can mobilise as individuals and communities to steer the market and policies towards a clean transport and energy future.

The ripple effect can create powerful change well beyond our borders as people realise that there is a cleaner better way of doing things. As we all know, stories are powerful, and an idea worth spreading can change the world". Read more here

Was this the opportunity we needed to get an EV? We had saved for our next vehicle, but not enough to buy a car with a 400 km battery range, but we could afford a car with a 200km + range. We thought about it when we drove to Bunbury, a town 175 km south of Perth. If we needed to charge the vehicle on the way, we would have to turn off the Bussell highway into Mandurah, which would be a bit of a diversion, but there are rechargers in Bunbury. A car with a 200km battery range would get there and when charged again, could get back as EVs regenerate some power in stop/start driving. What about other places? Not to Albany -not enough chargers on route, we think for a car with that smaller range. This may change in the future- as more people own electic vehicles there will be more chargers. 

For everyday use, however,  a smaller range vehicle would be fine for our use. As we are retired, we often have days when the car goes nowhere, sitting in the driveway all day, or we go to visit friends or go to the shops, very short drives between 5 km and 80km. 

We also have a small solar panel array, which even though small, means we sell to the grid about as much electricity as we use in the house. We can use the excess production for at least 9 months of the year in recharging the car for less than 2c per Kilowat hour, which is what the electricity company buys it from us for. Perth has an average of 8-9 sunshine hours per day (source BOM here ). This means there is a huge amount of take up of solar energy on rooftops. 

This is where the real change of minds came in! 

We simply decided to purchase an  EV with a 200km range, and to save up for a hire car when we want to go on holiday to Albany! After all, we already budget for rental accommodation! If we really want to, we can go down on the free Seniors card bus, and rent from an Albany supplier. 

The car is a Nissan Leaf 2018 with 65,000 km and a battery of 85%. 

What preparations have we made? 

1. We sold the trailer, as the new car won't have a tow bar. This raised some cash towards the second step. It is OK because we can always hire a ute if we need one, to move something or just pay for delivery. This is part of the change of mind that is required-instead of storing a trailer for the 3 or 4 times per year we need it, and paying for its upkeep and registration fee, we hire something as and when we need it. 

2. We have installed an EV charger to our house. 

3. We have been reading and watching videos about how to own, drive, and recharge the vehicle. It is a change of habit, and a change of technology. Many acronyms to learn! 

4. We have a buyer for our ICE vehicle (internal combusion engine -smelly, inefficient and climate damaging). 

5. We are waiting! 

The vehicle is going to be shipped from Melbourne on the back of a truck, then go through registration in Western Australia. The delivery date is still a few weeks away. We will let you know when it arrives and how we find it!