Cambridge now has its very own electric vehicle (EV) charging station, which opened recently at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets. It provides not only the chance for locals to charge up their own electric vehicle, but also encourages EV drivers around the country to turn off the bypass and stop in Cambridge for a charge up.
Two local electric vehicle owners, Peter Bryant and Josh Spelchan, say they’re rapt that they made the move from a regular car to an electric vehicle.
“So far for me it’s been absolutely problem free, the performance is awesome, the economy is awesome, there’s literally no down side to it, maybe except for the cost of mine!” says Peter, who purchased the Tesla Model S a year ago, one of the higher-end models of EVs. “I’ve never bought a new car in my life, but I wanted to have an electric car and the only one I was really aware of is Tesla, and I love gadgets, and that pretty much sold me.”
Peter’s friend and squash partner, Josh Spelchan, purchased the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq. Though he was considering getting the Nissan LEAF, one of the most popular more-affordable EVs, he chose the Ioniq for its greater range of 200km on the open road, or up to 300km for short trips around town (compared to the LEAF’s open road limit of 100km, or 130km around town).
“Petrol doesn’t like acceleration but electrics do, so its more efficient around town,” Josh explained. “This was probably the best-balanced car by all of the reviews I could read about it, for the family. I took it for a test drive and fell in love with it… you don’t need to warm it up, it’s low maintenance… For my family and my wife particularly, it suits her driving in Cambridge.
“But the LEAFs would suit almost anyone in Cambridge doing the what I think would be normal Cambridge trips, down to the supermarket, picking up the kids or whatever you’re doing locally.”
Japanese imports of the Nissan LEAF can be purchased for as low as $10K, whilst EVs with a greater driving range start at around $45K.
Some EV chargers around the country are free, whilst others, like the one in Cambridge, charge an average of about $20 for a full charge (25c/minute + 25c/kWh), which takes about 30 minutes. Charging at home over night takes about three to four hours, but only costs around $5.
“I usually charge at home, but it’s quite cool that this EV charger in Cambridge has opened up, because if I suddenly had to go to Auckland or something and for whatever reason the car isn’t fully charged, then I know that I can just duck down here (to the Cambridge charger) and it will charge a lot faster,” said Peter.
When it comes to travelling across the country, it’s quite easy to find a charging station. Apps such as “Plug Share” feature all EVs across the country on a map, and indicate which ones are available. When viewed around lunch time on a Friday, an online map indicated that just one third of all EV charging stations were being used.
“It used to be ‘where are we going to stop’ versus now we just have to choose where we’d like to stop. Like today I’m going to Wellington, so I’ll be making three stops to charge, but there are several places to stop on the way,” said Josh. “And who doesn’t stop for 30 minutes anyways, to get a bite to eat, or take the kids to the toilet! You know…”
The local EV owners said it did feel a bit strange getting used to driving an EV, but it’s really no different than driving a normal car. “It’s not like you have to relearn anything, it’s still driving a car, anybody can jump into it and drive it,” said Peter. “And electric engines have really high torque, which means that even at a low speed they can put a lot of power into the wheels, so you can go from a dead stop and accelerate really quickly. So there isn’t that risk of having your car stall as you pull out into a busy intersection or anything crazy like that, it’s just go.”
“My car automatically braked the other day because somebody from the side road pulled out, and when people walk behind your vehicle and it picks them up and starts beeping,” said Josh. “When I first drove mine I was a little nervous, you don’t have all the usual sounds and things. But now I’m used to it, it’s actually so quiet that both of ours have safety sounds put into them so they sound like cars when they’re rolling around town, so people get a chance of hearing it as you approach.”
So if you’re thinking about getting an electric vehicle, Peter and Josh say, “go for it!”.