Having spent the afternoon with the #leadingthecharge guys and gals, something struck me about the electric car, and I believe has now been thought by many thousands of people across the country who saw the tour. It’s now easy to go electric.
The Teslas were the stars of the show at the celebration of electric vehicles.
First, there was a glorious Gen 1 roadster. A car that has evidently been loved and driven the way she should and would have loved. Its Elise underpinnings can be seen by many a kit car driver, and undoubtedly an inspiration to create new.
Second, a Model S that was imported from Norway. With its unmatched safety record, there can be no better car to have there. With the optional ultra cold kit and big tyres, I’d rather be in a Tesla hitting an Elk than any other vehicle. Being an electric vehicle is merely an aside to its capabilities.
Thirdly was the new kid on the block, the Tesla Model S P85+
It was a piece of beautiful engineering. It’s owner Steve West, the co-founder of Serato, is undoubtedly proud of the car, his wife Dee and son Daniel are proud evangelists for the electric vehicle industry in New Zealand. Daniel, 9, given the choice between the Roadster and the P85+, was very sure in preferring the P85+, but was equally sure talking about the improvement in electric vehicle infrastructure required in New Zealand.
With thousands of visitors across New Zealand, there was a common fear, the one of the power running out, and how long the lifespan lasts.
But this was the power of such a car, and a reason why the campaign worked. Mighty River Power have worked with the #leadingthecharge organisers to ensure that they could get across the country, and show how a small investment by hotels and restaurants could make these cars be seen more across the country.
But at 100K base price, the Tesla is still only open to the elite, but there are much more reasonably priced electric and hybrid cars available.
Notable by their absence were Toyota and their Prius. Everybody who likes electric cars acknowledges the role they play, but maybe they’re just old news now?
Holden had their NZ version of the GM Volt (still called Volt), it’s been a few years since I’ve had a GM car, but they have moved forward with their technology. The Volt is a great representation of that transitional phase, one that should find a place in the enterprise fleet. With an 84Km range, those short journeys never need use gas. With the petrol powered generator, you can get a normal range for the Volt as a normal car, but at a fraction of the cost.
Next was a Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid. A 2L engine that uses the same style generator as the Volt to charge the batteries that power the 4 motors. I would love to see this thing off-road! At 60K, the fuel savings alone would make this a no-brainer.
It was good to see the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a Smart car sized vehicle that seats 4 and is available import from Japan for less than 20 grand. It has that k car feel, and is ideal for the city life, or anywhere that you don’t mind not doing motorway speeds (so anywhere in Auckland during rush-hour).
Lastly was the also popular Nissan Leaf, the first mass-market full electric car. It would integrate with pretty much everyone’s lives with little impact. It charges via a normal plug socket, it fits four comfortably, it still looks like a normal car, and it does 150km on a charge. Most people will have no problem plugging it into the mains every night.
There were also a number of self build enthusiasts, with the Mazda Miata electric conversion seeming the most popular for the mechanically minded. But other car builders were present, seeing the technology, and enjoying a bit of car porn.
The future of electric vehicles and their supporting industries seems bright. Time will only tell if the Government will get behind this fledgling industry and we can all reap its benefits.
The #leadingthecharge campaign can feel proud that they earned a seat at the table, it’s now over to the politicians to decide what that table is.