Electric vehicles have been in the news a lot lately, with the new American president Biden announcing an eight point plan to electrify America's roads. This is mainly because, despite efforts over the last several years to cut carbon pollution, emissions from the transport sector continue to grow. In countries where renewables are outstripping fossil fuel power, like the United States and the UK, transport is now the biggest emitting sector. Switching over to electric vehicles is going to be a big part of how we move to a net zero carbon future - a European Union commissioned report has found that they're 40% better for the planet than combustion engine vehicles, looking at the entire life cycle, from the mining of materials, to driving and disposal. So yep - that includes the batteries!
If you're not quite convinced yet that electric cars are really better for the planet, we recommend checking out this episode of the 'How to Save A Planet' podcast.
Because this blog isn't about that! It's about why electric cars are more convenient and practical, more fun to drive, and how they can save us money. They're not just this futuristic gadget that's good for the planet, they're a whole lot better for us too!
Electric vehicles are often cheaper in the long run
The big issue that always comes up with buying an electric car is that they're perceived to be unaffordable. But there are options out there like the Nissan LEAF, which is quite affordable. Especially after a few years of not paying for fuel, and with less maintenance costs, your electric car can easily come out on top as the cheaper option. If you've got rooftop solar panels you'll be in an even better position because you'll be generating your own electricity! Nissan Australia has created this calculator that can help you see what you can save with a Nissan LEAF, so you'll be closer to knowing for sure.
Because of the way their motors work, electric cars provide instant acceleration. EV drivers love it. "It's so good in fact, that you will get a speeding ticket the first time you drive your car because it is like a rocket ship" was how Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson described her first ever experience driving her new electric car, on her podcast 'How to Save a Planet'. Anyone who drives an electric vehicle seems to get a rush out of the electric performance! Plus there's the whole aspect of feeling like you're in a movie about the future every time you jump into the driver's seat.
You're not giving up on convenience. In fact, it's more convenient!
Often we have to give up some conveniences for the sake of the planet - like all those single-use plastics we could take and then throw straight into the bin (but don't). All the time you spend running back inside because you forgot your reusable bags or keepcup you'll get back when you have an electric car - because you'll never have to stop anywhere for petrol! Nope, your car can just be plugged into the wall at home, just as if you were charging your laptop or phone. If you needed to top up your charge while visiting someone, you could just plug into any power socket at their place too— there's no special charging outlet necessary, it's really that simple to charge away while you're catching up with a friend!
The range on most electric cars now also means you probably won't need to charge it for too long either. According to Jake Whitehead, an E-Mobility Researcher at the University of Queensland, most Australians drive their cars a distance that only needs two hours of charging to be back on a full battery. 1MW Founder Natalie Isaacs drives an hour to get to work - so spends two hours driving each day and goes about 50-55km, which uses up less than a fifth of the Nissan LEAFs 270km* range. So long as you're plugging it in to charge overnight, or for a couple of hours when your solar panels are getting some sun, you'll never have to stop and charge your car. Although if you did, these days in Australia, with over 800 public charging stations, you can find chargers in places like shopping centres, so you can pull in and do some grocery shopping while your car charges.
Another little feature that could work out to be convenient, although it might take some getting used to at first, is you often don't need to put your foot on the brake in an EV! All you ever need to do is press down on the accelerator (softly! - as Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson would tell you.) In e-Pedal^ mode in the Nissan LEAF for example, you can speed up, slow down and come to a complete stop with just the accelerator pedal, making it simple and easy to drive! Why is this helpful? Well, it makes driving easier, especially if you're sitting in stop-start traffic. And for the record, you'll still have a brake pedal in the car, so if you're not comfortable living the one pedal life just yet, you can keep doing things the way you're used to.
It'll easily fit into your life, just like a combustion engine car
You can get an Electric Vehicle that is otherwise the same as your combustion engine car. Yes, it's more quiet, and the way you operate it is a little different, but other than that, the vehicle will still get you from A to B. The Nissan LEAF still has all required safety features and exciting technology that helps keep you out of trouble like the Intelligent Around-View Monitor that gives you a virtual 360 bird's-eye view of your surroundings! You can fit a baby seat in there too, no passenger will ever be confused about where to find the seatbelt, and they definitely won't be wondering where the door handles are.
The way most of us think about EV's is that the technology for them isn't there yet, and that by switching to one, you're having to make a sacrifice in order to do the right thing by the planet. But really, that's just not the case. Electric vehicles have gotten practical in all the ways we need, with their extensive range and simple ways to charge, while also being a whole new level of fun. The future is here, let's embrace it!
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* 315km range tested to Australian NEDC ADR81/02 standard. 270km indicative driving range using the new WLTP test procedure for the European spec model. Note Australian model has not been tested using WLTP test procedure. Figures obtained after the battery was fully charged. Figures stated for the purposes of comparison amongst vehicles tested to the same technical procedures only. Actual real world driving range may vary depending on factors such as battery age and condition, driving style, use of heating/cooling, traffic conditions, weather conditions, any accessories fitted and vehicle load.
^ The e-Pedal may not be suitable under all driving conditions, correct operation is the responsibility of the driver. See Owner's Manual for details.