Staying plugged in
Nearly two-thirds of the 474 electric vehicle (EV) owners who responded to the latest 'Flip the Fleet' survey reported that their transport habits either hadn’t changed or had only changed a little, since buying an EV.
“That shows just how easily EVs fit into most families’ lives. For the majority of families EVs have the range they need for everyday use,” said Megan Reynolds, an EV owner from Christchurch.
“But more than just doing their job, EVs also bring family and friends closer together as the cheap running costs and enjoyable driving experience mean that I’m more likely to volunteer to do the pick-up and drop off of other people’s kids. EV ownership has made me more likely to help people,” said Reynolds.
Many EV households are effectively running a combination family fleet programme: they keep an old petrol or diesel car as a second car but shift as much of their family’s driving to their EV so they can save money, save the planet and enjoy the better car.
“The old petrol or diesel car is often a backstop. It gets a spin on occasional long trips or to tow the trailer, but often ends up collecting cobwebs while the family prefers to use the EV for everyday transport,” said Reynolds.
Families with dual EV/ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car ownership use a team approach.
One family said that despite having four drivers, often going different places, sharing two EVs and an ICE, they have become so good at maximising use of the EVs that the ICE is sometimes unused for a week at a time.
Some EV owners even want to share beyond their own families.
“I have a very different attitude about this car,” said one respondent.
“I want the EV to be a communal car for the family living here. Everyone is free to use the EV when I don't need it. Limiting carbon is the aim, so sharing the EV rather than other family members driving their hybrid or petrol cars makes environmental sense.”
“What we need are communal ICEs for use on those occasional long trips or towing the trailer. The ideal would be for more families to have no car at all, but if they need one, for it to be just an EV, and then to borrow the use of an ICE when it's absolutely needed.”
This car sharing arrangement is used by some owners like Reynolds who lends her car to friends when she flies out of town.
“A friend using her EV saves the friend petrol costs and mitigates some of her carbon guilt from the CO2 produced by flying,” said Reynolds.
“The survey results showed that EVs are not just changing our mobility, they are also bringing us closer together."
Flip the Fleet is a citizen science project that provides scientifically reliable information on the benefits and constraints of electric vehicles in New Zealand. The project is partly funded by the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Participation is free and all New Zealand’s electric vehicle owners can enrol at www.flipthefleet.org.