Thursday, August 24, 2023

It's here! First days with the EV


We picked up and registered our EV (Electric Vehicle) today and I have had my first drive in it! It is a Nissan Leaf. 

(For the leadup to this post, see the last one here)

There are many feelings involved!

There is the novelty of a new technology, because this is like having a mobile computer. There are displays, cameras, readouts, switches, toggles, modes -so much information at hand. It feels supportive- five camera angles to help you park, warning alarms for all sorts of things -"you wouldn't be silly enough to do that thing, would you?" kind of noises. There is a warning beep when reversing -because the car is very quiet, and people need to know you are coming. 

The first drive in any car is exciting. The first drive in an EV even more so. It is quiet -it is powerful-it is just like any car, but not like it at all. Now, I still have to figure out how to find my favourite radio station, and which of those switches turns on the aircon? 

There is relief. Did you know that we acually bought this car on the internet

As a result of Australia's geographical size and stupid car policies which do not promote electric vehicles at anything like the rate we need to decarbonise our future, there is almost no second hand market for EVs, and new ones are hugely expensive and have a wait list. We found the Good Car Company could import vehicles from Japan, second hand, at reasonable prices. We bought and paid for the car weeks before it arrived in Perth, as it had to be trucked across the Nullabor, and then we had to register it in this state. I must say, all the way along that the Good Car Company has been very helpful and supportive. There were moments of doubt however, and the relief is real. 

There is satisfaction. DH went to put a few $$ worth of fuel in the ICE vehicle we are selling, and had great delight in saying "This is the last fossil fuel I ever buy!" For me, this is the culmination of a dream more than 5 years old, to say goodbye to fossil fuels and drive a clean green car. We sold our ICE car! 

There is excitement.

Friends and family are very interested in the new vehicle because, unlike countries overseas, EVs are relatively rare in Australia and most have never seen anyone who fairly ordinary, like us, with one. We are fielding many quesions and enquiries, which is great. The more the merrier! 

But what about RANGE ANXIETY?

Well, yes, it is a thing for new EV drivers to be constantly aware of the approximate number of kms left in the battery before recharging, because, unlike ICE  (Internal Combustion Energy) cars, we can't fill up on every corner at the fossil fuel petrol station. 

We are learning to drive in such a way as to enable as much recharging of the battery as possible. This is due to regenerative braking. As you slow the speed of an electric vehicle, regenerative braking engages the motion of the wheels to act as a sort of crankshaft, sending energy to the motor via rotation of the motor shaftThe Nissan has several driving modes to promote this regeneration, one exiting one is a 'one pedal drive' in which you don't use the brakes at all!!!

This means that, unlike an ICE vehicle, the car can top itself up a little instead of just running down the fuel/charge gauge. For example, yesterday afternoon we travelled about 18 km in city driving, but when we the car dash suggested we had used up only about 11 km of range. 

Our own Power Station

It took a few days before we could perform our first recharge at home -because of course, the battery needs to have some capacity used up first, so that we can, actually, have room for more charge! This was a new skill-but it was very easy to do. DH was greatly relieved that the set up we installed a month or so ago, actually works with this car. I was relieved to know that we can power up the car at home, easily and whenever we need to.  

Charging an EV takes some time, compared to the 10 minute approximate filling up with a fossil fuel in an ICE vehicle. 

If we stop at a public EV charger, we can do a rapid charge which may take up to 30 minutes. Too slow? But it will cost about one third of the price of the fossil fuel! 

If we charge up at home on a medium speed it will take about 5 hours or so, but as the car sits outside for many hours per week, it is hardly a big problem. We will be strategic about charging up where possible when our solar panels are pumping the most electricity, and when the household is relatively powered down. For example, we wash clothes in the morning so the car is going to be cheapest if we wait until the afternoon. I will be keeping track of our use, and comparing the price on our power bills. 

Our first charge took about 4 hours, at home, while we were eating dinner and reading books. We had planned to do it earlier in the afternoon with the sun shining on the solar panels, but we had to get a grandchild from school who was unwell, so we did it in the evening fron the grid. We calculate that would cost about $10.

In Australia,  a car is typically parked at home 80% of the time according to statistics here. 

The car has a nice roomy boot, deeper than normal because it doesn't have a spare wheel. What it does have is one of those repair kits for a puncture which squirt some kind of jell into the tyre. You then go to a shop and buy a new tyre! 

So, now we are driving emissions free. Australia needs to do this quickly to meet our emissions target. I hope this experience of ours will give confidence to others to consider an EV the next time they need to change vehicles.