Your take-home messages:
Owning an electric car was a last big step in a sustainability journey that was already underway for many families and businesses. However, EV ownership also reinforced sustainability awareness and values, and spurred additional green investments like installing solar panels, and choices like reducing air travel.
This month’s poll:
Our sixteenth 1-click survey proposed that “Owning and electric vehicle has spurred me to take other steps toward a more sustainable life (e.g. reducing waste, installing solar panels, planting trees, reducing air travel …)”.
Participants could choose between the following six options:
(1) Strongly agree
(3) Neither agree or disagree
(5) Strongly disagree
The poll was sent on 11 February 2018 to 512 electric Vehicle (EV) owners and 44 Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV, including Range Extenders) owners who have enrolled in the Flip the Fleet project • 289 EV and 23 PHEV owners responded by 18 February 2018 • 137 respondents provided comments for their choice.
Over half (59%) of owners “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that owning an electric vehicle (EV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) has spurred them to do more than they already were for sustainable living (Fig. 1). Nearly a third (32%) “neither agreed nor disagreed”. Of the remainder, 9% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the proposition.
What makes you Click?
Environmental consideration is obviously a strong factor in New Zealanders’ decision to buy an EV or PHEV. A majority of the comments referred to environmental benefits as their main motivation to have bought their car – only a few singled out cost savings, excellent performance and practicality as their motivation to buy electric.
Many respondents commented that purchasing their EV has been the last piece of the sustainability puzzle for them. Having already reduced their waste, commenced recycling, or installed solar PV, buying their EV or PHEV was the next, biggest and most expensive step in reducing their impact on the planet. One comment sums up these common themes amongst the responses: ‘Buying an EV was part of an increasing journey to greater sustainability, but it didn’t in itself trigger more of it – I was already underway with this. The EV is by far the biggest step we’ve done as a household, however. Bamboo toothbrushes, increased recycling, giving away unused items, etc are all great – but I think the EV probably makes the biggest impact so far.’ Most of the comments received from owners who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposition report that buying the existing sustainability awareness caused them to buy, not that having the car further accelerated their sustainability orientation e.g. “It was the other way around. Becoming less wasteful, then installing solar, spurred me towards getting an electric car.
Other respondents described buying an EV as natural next step of a much longer and integrated journey: “Owning an electric vehicle was one of the last items in a list of ecological actions we have undertaken. with the list being roughly the following:- House insulation => Compact Fluoro lights (and now LEDs) => double glazing => Solar Panels + and finally an EV. This was not so much a matter of priorities based on desire as priorities based on the progress each of the technologies has made”.
Even though most EV purchasers are very environmentally conscious already, we hope that the respondent who said the following is right: “I think the EV purchase is going to be a last step in lots already taken for many sustainably aware people simply because a newish car is so expensive (after a house, the cars are the next biggie decision). I expect this to change as the initial capital cost of EVs drops i.e. soon EVs will be more of an entry pathway for family low carbon energy transitions, but in the meantime that the green values and less expensive investments and lifestyle adjustments will occur before buying an EV.
Around half of the respondents agreed with the idea that owning an EV or PHEV keeps them on their journey, makes them go further or faster, and made them see new things they could do for the planet in their daily lives. The most common follow-up action is to investigate or install photovoltaic patterns to help charge their car e.g. “Since getting our EV, we have been considering solar panels, as we want to be using only the cleanest energy. We basically want to be “Walking on Sunshine” if at all possible”. The two technologies, solar PV and EVs are naturally ‘paired’ and will rise to dominate the market place into the future. Another said: “getting our EV has triggered reading, planning and costing of the options, and considerable debate in our household about the aesthetic impacts of the PV panels. We wouldn’t be doing this research and having debate without having an EV and the way it bought energy conservation to front of mind, and I think it makes it much more likely that we will buy the panels in the next 6 months rather than waiting for a few more years”.
Electric vehicle ownership was part of a wider quest for sustainable transport for many respondents. The most intractable and important change for some owners is to reduce air travel e.g. Any contribution of EV and PHEV ownership to raise this awareness of this challenge is important because cheap air travel has become such a big part of our international business and playground. It also underpins the very important tourism industry that is New Zealand’s main income earner. Others are driving less, using public transport or getting on their bikes. Those that retain a conventional (internal combustion) vehicle as part of their family fleet drive it more economically and want to lend it to others.
Clearly, owning an EV is just one of many strategies families take for more sustainable lives: e.g. “We have been planting trees, composting, vegie gardening, using rain water for watering plants, flushing toilet, using the washing machine, etc. So solar is our next little step to help heal the planet 🙂”.
The impacts of owning an electric vehicle can also be social. For example, one respondent said: “The passion and knowledge of other EV owners rubs off on us all too. Early adopters are an amazing group of sensible, knowledgeable and courageous people. So we are now interacting with a whole lot of new and inspiring people, reading different stuff and thinking about what is important in life, and what makes people change or not. There is no doubt that our lives are richer for having bought an EV in very social and community oriented ways … and here’s the thing … in ways that bind us more together to work for a common, better and more sustainable future.”
Discussion and conclusions:
This survey clearly indicates that many EV and PHEV owners are proud of their contribution to environmental sustainability. Most are acutely aware of their effect on the environment, the impacts of climate change and that they have a responsibility to take action to minimise their footprint on the planet. Nevertheless, the respondents were roughly split in half between those that saw buying an EV or PHEV as the end of a sustainability awakening, and the others who noticed that EV and PHEVs was part of a more subtle, “virtuous cycle” of accelerating environmental care. Obviously, people come to own an EV or PHEV in different stages of their value transition and action for the environment. To quote an old bumper sticker, “everything is connected”. No one step is sufficient by itself, even though owning an EV or PHEV is a biggie!
With the uptake of EVs in New Zealand now more than doubling every 12 months, and considering the overwhelming sustainability values of the respondents in this survey, it leaves us wondering how far the EV revolution can go if it rests entirely on environmental concerns. The survey strongly underscores that the majority of “early adopters” are already environmentally aware and their purchase decision reflects deep existing values. Values take a long time to change, so if we are only going to have existing “greenies” buy EVs and PHEVs, sooner or later this wave of uptake is going to slow. It might even stall. The key to enticing what Everitt Rogers called the “early majority” to buy electric vehicles (the next wave of buyers who might not be so strongly oriented to sustainability) swings on making the vehicles appealing for other reasons than their environmental benefits. Several participants have written to us expressing their frustration that Flip the Fleet, and our 1-click surveys in particular, appear besotted with practical constraints and financial benefits of EVs and PHEVs. For these complainants, it’s the environmental contributions that are way more important and soulful. We share this belief, but it’s not us existing owners that matter most! It’s the ones that haven’t yet bought an EV or PHEV that we have to convince, and that conversation is, in our view, going to be more successful if it does not confront or challenge the comparative lack of green values or awareness of those that drive ICVs and fly a lot more than they need to. We think it’s better to show scientific evidence and have a discussion that tears down the myths about electric vehicles being impractical and super expensive. Yes, EVs and PHEVs still have a way to go, but costs are falling and range is increasing steadily. They are already way good enough for most of us to substitute for 95% of our uses and save us money. So, you early adopters have a huge role to play by showing the doubters how good they are for you, as well as the planet.
The most encouraging thing about the results of this survey is the way having the EV or PHEV pushed some already sustainability-oriented purchasers to be even more green in their lives! If we can only get the less sustainability-oriented people to buy an EV or PHEV, it seems likely that we will grow their sustainability and environmental ethic and actions. Persuading people to buy an expensive thing like a relatively new car is a big step, but it is also a huge opportunity for starting new recruits for a longer and more varied sustainability journey. Kick-starting the EV journey is the tough and slow bit – after that we can expect a green snowballing effect to embed the values and awareness needed to tackle the other big planetary and community threats.
Your comments in detail:
Below is a lightly edited and re-arranged record of many of the comments received. They are reproduced below in a rough sequence from those who agreed with the proposition to those who disagreed.
Realising I can make a difference:
“EV ownership seems to start the realisation process – I can make a difference” ● “We realized we could make a difference ourselves”
To the action stations:
“Kia kaha” ● “made me shift from just reading about climate change to actually doing something about it… it was so easy!” ● “there is no doubt that the purchase of an EV has deepened and hastened our transitions to more sustainable life in many and subtle ways. We now want solar electricity more than ever, and not just to save money by powering an EV – the EV has triggered reading, planning and costing of the options, and considerable debate in our household about the aesthetic impacts of the PV panels. We wouldn’t be doing this research and having debate without having an EV and the way it bought energy conservation to front of mind, and I think it makes it much more likely that we will buy the panels in the next 6 months rather than waiting for a few more years” ● “It’s time we got serious about moving to a zero-emissions economy instead of just talking about it!!!!”
“Yes, [my EV] has really made me think about climate change actions” ● ” I am now a lot more aware of recycling and alternative energy” ● “Since buying an EV I have also got 2 Ebikes . Plus, I have become a pollution reduction campaigner, a plastic water bottle and plastic bag hater and have almost become a total whole foods plant based vegan. I have stuck a few solar panels on my roof along with a donated battery and use it to charge my Ebikes, Cell phones, and run my entire Ham Radio Station. All off Grid. Not bad for an ACT party candidate from the 2005 election is it?.. 🙂 I have certainly changed my view on a great many things since buying an EV” ● “Once you’ve done something substantial for the planet, like spent your hard-earned cash on an EV, it’s made me much more aware of how I’m impacting the planet with everything else that I’m doing. I’ve pretty much gone vegetarian, and looking towards the next step … veganism. Then there’s the: need new clothes pegs? Well let’s get wooden ones. Pet dog? No way, maybe a cat instead. In fact, if I had bought my EV 20 years ago and started thinking about things the way I am now, I might not have had more than the average number of children…” ● “Discovering how much CO2 we are not pumping into the atmosphere any more has made me more aware of the other ways we impact the environment”
Seeing a bigger picture:
“Owning and driving an EV is but part of seeing a bigger picture of more sustainable living with less impact on the environment. NZ is uniquely placed to take advantage of our clean green energy and limiting pollution”
Deepening commitment and learning:
“I was on a quest to be more sustainable prior to getting my EV but I feel like I am more committed to it now” ● “We have always lived sustainably, have been off the grid for 23 years but having the car has encouraged us to look at other ways we can live more simply” ● “I bought an off-grid property and have done some serious deep-end learning”
Thinking about where the world is heading:
“Why did I hit “agree”? I think I have always been on the green side, not politically, I like things nature, but I also like technology, so there is a battle going on. We have to make things easy in our society today or it won’t happen. Seeing Africans struggling to live was an eye opener. Also the joy of our “camp boy” getting paid – he was going to buy a gas bottle and cooking ring with his earnings. Having the EV is easy, yes there are issues with range that get me, but I was in the era of single car families and car-less days. Also, I was from a small rural community that is no longer a nice town due to the fact people can go further to shop. There was a better sense of belonging then. Does my EV ownership help? It makes me feel good, and does start others questioning where the world is heading”
Doing more with less gives meaning to life:
“Doing more with less is a philosophy that has a strong attraction for me” ● “Doing more with less creates wealth which is the superglue for a strong resilient civilization. Participation in wealth creation is an aspect of behaviour that gives meaning to my life…”
It’s about morals, values, habits and mindsets:
“One single choice in isolation won’t make enough of a difference. Buying an EV is linked strongly to many other moral practices that can’t be ignored and it all adds up to many opportunities to behave sustainably. Eg Soft Plastics recycling, composting, using less chemicals and reliance on bad materials” ● “It is very hard to change our habits. Change one thing and form new habits before taking on the next challenge” ● “Already doing a lot of those things. Buying an EV is all part of the same mindset” ● “Not happy with this answer because for me it’s the other way around. I was already leading a very conscious and sustainable lifestyle and driving an EV fits well with what I was doing. It surprises me how many EV drivers have no, or little, environmental motivation”
The knock-on effect – deepening and diversifying environmental choices:
“It just gets you thinking, what else could I be doing better to reduce my footprint? We decided against a second car, and if I need to get around now I use primarily public transport or e-bike” ● “We actually installed solar panels and sized the system to be able to support an EV half a year before we got our EV, so for us it was the other way round. However, now that we’re driving an EV it certainly prompts us to rethink other areas of our life as well and look even more at eco-friendly and sustainable products and services” ● “We had already been doing most of the other things listed and the purchase of the EV was one of the last major steps. The EV purchase, however, did provide some rejuvenated enthusiasm for doing our part” ● “I think it has encouraged me to make more effort in other areas, e.g. plastic, growing trees for native nursery etc.”
Keeping us grounded:
“I think EV ownership cuts much deeper than making us smug (in the way some cynics portray us as a group) – it brings humility too when you realise that even a comparatively big step like buying an expensive car is still a small step in the bigger challenge”
The EV Club – it’s good to get to know you:
“The passion and knowledge of other EV owners rubs off on us all too. Early adopters are an amazing group of sensible, knowledgeable and courageous people that have adopted EVs. So we are now interacting with a whole lot of new and inspiring people, reading different stuff and thinking about what is important in life, and what makes people change or not. There is no doubt that our lives are richer for having bought an EV is very social and community oriented ways … and here’s the thing … in ways that bind us more together to work for a common, better and more sustainable future”
Going easy on the planet:
“My primary reason for moving to an ev was for eco reasons” ● “We do need to take care of our environment. We are caretakers of our world, whether we have climate change or not” ● “Owning an electric vehicle is just one of the steps I’ve taken to be kinder to the planet. I already did and do other things – plenty more I can do and I’ll keep at it!” ● “We were already trying to achieve a more sustainable life, so owning an EV was just a natural progression” ● “I’ve been passionate about leaving the planet better than I found it, all my life. Electric cars are just more icing on the cake… Peter, 79 years young..”
Steps in a well advanced longer journey:
[Most of the ones commenting in this heading chose ‘3’ = neither agree nor disagree’] “Our sustainability values inspired us to buy an EV rather than the other way around” ● “When I bought my electric vehicle I was already committed to moving steadily towards a sustainable future. Owning the EV was just one step further on the road” ● “Buying an EV was part of an increasing journey to greater sustainability, but it didn’t in itself trigger more of it – I was already underway with this. The EV is by far the biggest step we’ve done as a household, however. Bamboo toothbrushes, increased recycling, giving away unused items,etc etc are all great – but I think the EV probably makes the biggest impact so far” ● “We were already living a sustainable life (but could always be better)” ● “I put ‘agree’ as I had already taken steps to live a more sustainable life style. EV was just another step in that direction” ● “Buying an EV was one link in the chain….. we had already made some of the other steps mentioned in the questionaire …. Building well insulated house…. PV systems…. Solarbox hotwater… composting …. gathering rain water …etc… the EV was an expensive purchase that came later…. But buying 1 EV sure made it easy. It will b e an easy decision to buy an additional one when funds permitted… :)” ● “we had a Toyota Prius before we went fully electric” ● “Reducing waste etc was already in place and EV was added to the list” ● “I already have a small carbon footprint and can’t think how to reduce it further. I have solar panels, I compost, recycle, don’t use plastics much” ● “Only partially true really [this respondent chose ‘2 = Agree], because I have to be “green” for a long time, and owning an E/V is just a continuum” ● “The electric car is one component of a lifestyle, and for us this choice has no direct effect on others” ● “We are quite “green” and sustainable in our lifestyle anyway and buying an EV was just another obvious step to take” ● “I already am as sustainable as possible. Getting the EV is one part of that rather than something which spurred me on more” ● “I was already taking steps to a more sustainable life before I bought an Electric car, this is just another step in the process, Solar panels next!” ● “We were already into it before we had a Nissan Leaf. We have solar panels and were very conscious of recycling, single-use plastic bags, fossil fuels, global climate change. To use modern parlance, EVs are a no-brainer” ● “I had solar panels before I got my car, and only fly once every 3 – 4 years” ● “We already reduce our plastic use and have planned to get a solar system. We are conscious of our impact on the environment and aimed to reduce that impact prior to owning out EV. EV’s are another sensible step in the right direction” ● “Just another step on the road” ● “I have already taken such steps – owning an electric vehicle was another step towards sustainability without compromising the planet” ● “Already looking after my footprint best I can” ● “While I agree with the merits of aiming for a more sustainable lifestyle, I don’t think the ownership of an electric vehicle has increased my resolve to aim for this. It is merely just one step along the way” ● “Already trying to be sustainable in other ways” ● “When I bought my electric vehicle I was already committed to moving steadily towards a sustainable future. Owning the ev was just one step further on the road” ● “Already do the solar panels and battery bit; the EV was the next step” ● “Already part of my way of life” ● “I was already aware of the crises facing our planet and have for years done what I can to act responsibly. When the time came to upgrade from my still immaculate 1999 Nissan Pulsar, choosing an EV was a natural decision. I just hope the car gives me long and reliable service” ● “We were pretty ‘environmental’ beforehand” ● “I don’t think getting the electric car has encouraged us to do more. It’s just part of what thoughts already existed” ● “I think a truer statement would be that the effects of climate change have spurred us to do more, including buying an electric car” ● “It was the other way around. Becoming less wasteful, then installing solar, spurred me towards getting an electric car”
Last steps in that journey:
“Because I have already done most of those things long before I got the Leaf, which was my last major aspect of decarbonisation” ● “I changed my life to be more sustainable BEFORE I bought my EV. It was part of the whole early retirement strategy. I mainly ride a bike, I plant trees for the Kāpiti biodiversity project, I grow over 50% of my own food and minimise my waste to landfill. In my experience, people who buy EVs understand the huge problems we face from climate change and have been changing their lifestyle where they could for a while” ● “My EV was the last piece of the puzzle. However, still battling with plastic reduction, single use glass and cheese” ● “because I already had a net-zero energy house, etc., etc., and the BEV was the main outstanding thing”
Expense is what makes the EV a late step in the sustainability journey:
“Buying the EV was the last and most expensive step of a 10 year program of reducing waste, LED lighting, front load washing machine and other energy efficient appliances, solar panels, water storage, worm bin, compost and overall energy reduction” ● “Was already doing all I could. Have solar etc. Due to cost and the fact I already had a perfectly good hybrid it was one of the last big steps I could reasonably take” ● “Owning an electric vehicle was one of the last items in a list of ecological actions we have undertaken. with the list being roughly the following:- House insulation => Compact Fluoro lights (and now LEDs) => double glazing => Solar Panels + and finally an EV. This was not so much a matter of priorities based on desire as priorities based on the progress each of the technologies has made. EVs have been developing several years behind the other items that we have chosen. In addition, some of the other technologies have been easier and less expensive. For example, changing an incandescent light bulb to a CFL and then an LED is simple and can be done one or two at at time so that the cost is barely noticeable, whereas finding the extra cost for an EV requires saving or borrowing a significant lump sum” ● “Sequence of events. Owning an EV is part of a package of trying to reduce my climate change/sustainability profile. But I bought an EV AFTER I had done some cheaper options = PV, solar hot water, house insulation…” ● “We have been working on incorporating sustainable lifestyle practices for over 20 years already (as you listed). An EV has been on our to do list for a long time but we have only now got the finances to get one”
After buying an electric car, the rest seems easy:
“”If I can drive an electric car i can keep reusable shopping bags in the boot. It’s not hard”
EVs are recent, sustainable journeys have been underway much earlier:
“I am already recycling to a high degree. The arrival of the eNV200 in NZ at a reasonable cost, allowed me to take the extra step to reduce my impact on the planet” ● “I would have bought an EV earlier in my environmental transitions if they had been available back then”
Soon EVs will become more of the beginning rather than end of the sustainability journey:
“I think the EV purchase is going to be a last step in lots already taken for many sustainably aware people simply because a newish car is so expensive (after a house, the cars are the next biggie decision). I expect this to change as the initial capital cost of EVs drops i.e. soon EVs will be more of an entry pathway for family low carbon energy transitions, but in the meantime that the green values and less expensive investments and lifestyle adjustments will occur before buying an EV”
“We are deeply concerned with the climate changes occurring and think that driving an EV is a productive step in that direction alongside all the other things we do such as planting trees”
Sedated driving of the ICE wagon:
“The way we use and drive our remaining Internal Combustion Vehicle is a direct consequence of having an EV. We keep an oldish Subaru for towing plants to our forest restoration site and occasional long trips. We now drive it real slow and steady, and don’t charge up hills! When some petrol head barrels past us up the hills out of Dunedin, we snigger. If they only knew how much they added to their fuel bill by driving like teenagers they would slow down” ● “One of the good things about EVs and the limited range issue is that it teaches you to keep watch and minimise energy use while driving – it’s an issue for the others but 99% of them don’t monitor or care.
Reducing use of the ICE wagon:
“We work in every way possible to transfer as much of our driving as practicable to our EV (probably the use of the Subaru has dropped by 85%)” ● “We try not to use our ICE car unless essential. The BEV is first port of call always”
Sharing to get the last drop out of a dying technology:
“We are much more willing to lend our Subaru and trailer to others, especially families with just an EV. We want to get the most out of our last ICV for everyone that has a specialist need for one until NZ has the infrastructure and the car manufacturers have better EVs.
“We will try to help one of our sons buy an EV rather than a crappy ICV once he has a job location sorted”
Whare mahana – warming the house:
“Since getting the EV I have installed 10 solar panels and re-insulated the house ceilings” ●
Home electricity generation and storage:
“OK, since you asked, having an EV has spurred me to investigate adding solar PV (we already have solar hot water) to our roof. Haven’t got there yet but looking at it” ● “We bought a second EV then upgraded our PV system to 6 kW plus a battery” ● “I am investigating the costs and benefits of installing solar panels to help reduce our electricity costs” ● “We have done significant research into solar panels, actively learnt more about sustainable electricity generation and consciously consider plastics use, as our purchase also coincided with supermarket plans re phasing out plastic bag use” ● “When you live in Sunny Nelson with the great number of sunshine hours, charging with solar is a no brainer” ● “Installed solar panels” ● “Installed solar panels” ● “I have already had solar panels on our roof for the last couple of years and because we have been exporting power I have been trying to put this power straight into our electric car” ● “Looking to install solar panels at the moment” ● “We already got sun panels and a 7 kwh battery so we ARE committed” ● “I tried to convince dad to put solar panels in to combat the increase in the power bills since I got the Leaf” ● “We are starting to investigate Solar having had pricing from several years ago and know this needs revisiting”
EVs and solar are joined at the hip:
“I bought the EV as a result of going solar to make better utilisation of generation” ● “I already have solar panels for power on my roof which allows me to charge my car for FREE during daylight hours in times good bright sunshine. Less so of course during winter” ● “Since getting our EV, we have been considering solar panels, as we want to be using only the cleanest energy. We basically want to be “Walking on Sunshine” if at all possible” ● ● “We are looking at solar panels as it would be very neat to power the car by the sun!” ● “We installed photovoltaic panels on the house after we purchased the Leaf. We already had a hot water solar panel system, but in hindsight that was a mistake as it would have been better to initially invest in a photovoltaic system because that would provide hot water AND whatever other energy needs for the house” ● “having 2 EVs in the household and seeing the comparatively huge impact they make on electricity usage (compared to the house itself), and knowing the CO2 emissions of the grid is still high at 33%, is spurring me on to review our solar situation with a view to installing more, in combination with battery” ● “I would like to go solar when it is more affordable” ● “not much money left after expensive EV to get solar”
Home electricity storage makes it even better:
“Next is a Tesla type battery for the house (and a Tesla if we win Lotto)”
Getting even more solar and electricity storage:
“Actually we got some PV PANELS FIRST, THEN THE EV CARS. But we then added more PV panels so we could charge our cars from our own electricity plus we put in an LG battery to ensure we had enough or almost enough electricity so we don’t have to use much from the grid. Since then we are also trying to cut as much plastic out of our lives as we can.
Hastening steps towards zero waste:
“We are now more conscious of creating Zero waste which may be a coincidence” ● “what’s the use of having an EV that has a light touch on the planet and saves money to then be generating loads of rubbish by not recycling and wasting money in other areas” ● “We’re definitely now more conscious on reducing non-recycling refuse” ● “Driving an electric vehicle and knowing it isn’t polluting the atmosphere has made me more cautious about how I dispose of my everyday rubbish. I am keen to see a scenario where at least 90% of our waste, preferably 100%, is either reused, recycled, up-cycled, or disposed of so it doesn’t pollute our planet. In my work as an IT technician, I always recycle computers if it is possible, so they are used effectively and efficiently
Reducing home electricity demand:
“More aware of electricity use around the home, e.g. turning off unnecessary switches”
“Replaced central heating boiler with two air to water heat pumps”
Reducing water use:
“I’ve always recycled, anything that can be recycled will be and I re use the old water from my fish tanks by using it to water the garden, plants love it!”
Home water capture and waste system:
“We have solar with a battery, own water and sewage system”
Home food production:
“We are well on our way to producing a large portion of our food” ● “We have started mulching our green waste”
Reducing use of plastics:
“I already have a small carbon footprint and can’t think how to reduce it further. I have solar panels, I compost, recycle, don’t use plastics much”
Reducing impact on the grid:
“Examining other ways to reduce use of grid power”
Sustainable lawn mowing:
“When our ICE lawnmower died we bought a battery powered mower to replace it” ● “Since getting an EV I’ve now sold our petroleum lawn mower and replaced it with an EGO battery mower. We are considering solar too!”
All part of an integrated home package:
“Actually, it’s almost the reverse of your question, but same outcome. We joined the EV (Extra-Virgin?) ranks as an integral part of adopting a sustainable energy lifestyle, including conservation (eg lo-watt bulbs, timers etc), insulation, solar thermal passive heating + water, domestic solar + battery, & so to EV…. Soon to be a virtuous circle?” ● “Also, have been updating appliances and whiteware and looking more closely at energy ratings and how many kWh they use rather than the star rating as it can vary a great deal. KWh rating gives a better indication of energy use plus the amount of water used for washing machines and dishwashers. Would love an electric lawn mower but as we have a very small lawn, it will have to wait. Also of concern is the plastic bags in use. Time we all stopped buying them for our groceries. Too much packaging in use in vegetable sections and in general grocery packaging’ ● “We actually installed solar panels before buying an EV, but since buying an EV have planted more trees on the property, have reduced dependence on single-use plastic by taking reusable bags to the supermarket and trying where possible to use a keep- cup for flat whites!” ● “We have been planting trees, composting, vegie gardening, using rain water for watering plants, flushing toilet, using the washing machine, etc. So solar is our next little step to help heal the planet :-)” ● “Have got quotes for solar panels and heat pump heating solutions. Have purchased electric bike. Now running dishwasher and washing machine at off-peak time” ● “Actually I had already started, with 10kW of solar on the roof, and a battery-operated lawnmower, hedge trimmer, etc. Our rubbish bin is rarely put out as we recycle almost everything”
Bring on the electric camper vans!
“The EV was getting near the end of our list – already do so many other things. Haven’t got solar panels on our house yet – maybe that’s the next step. But we do on our campervan. Just waiting for a fully electric campervan!!”
Shifted focus onto the other areas:
“Understanding that renewable transport has been largely solved allows me to focus on other environmental issues. (i.e. if we can do it with cars on a small scale, we can convert buses, trucks, boats and even airplanes to renewable. In the short term airplanes are moving to bio fuels to make air travel more sustainable”
Upgrading the EV next:
“I am saving up for a 7 seater electric vehicle now”
Clipping our wings: the hard one!
“At the more extreme end I have given up my passport” ● “I can’t bring myself to travel to Europe because of the carbon emissions. Europe is so photographed anyway it is easy to travel there vicariously” ● “We do still travel to Europe but feel better knowing that we have saved much CO2 by driving electric!” ● “The biggest other transition from having our Leaf is in minimising air travel. We felt pretty proud about having an EV, but got a real shock when Flip the Fleet showed us that our trip to see a son in Europe blew four years of GHG savings from our EV. That sure was a wake-up call! So we now minimise air travel, even though it takes us a lot longer to go to and from Christchurch by EV for work or visiting friends. It takes some adjustments and compromises, but brings other joys (time together in the car, discovery of new towns and localities along the highway while we wait to recharge)” ● “I can only “agree”, not “strongly agree”, because I haven’t been able to quit air travel yet. And many other things we were already doing to some extent, though hopefully we will do more” ● “We had a solar system first and the natural progression was an EV to take advantage of excess production. We have since owning the EV also reduced our rubbish etc and far more recycling. Unfortunately air travel is essential for my job but with the EV and solar combined our carbon footprint is reduced ( 11.38 tons for solar)” ● “It does make me question air travel, the Marsden Point pipeline incident certainly made me realise how much fuel goes into one jet, all burnt because we can”
Buying an EV is a biggie:
“My wife and I definitely bought a Leaf because we already had environmental sustainability in our values and planning. We have never spent so much on a car before in our lives, but for the first time too we had the disposable income to do so (our kids are now independent). So we have been replanting a native forest into pasture in a coastal property and an EV was the logical next step”
Going easy on the grid while saving money:
“It has made us look in detail at our electricity use and make adjustments to our lifestyle to shift usage into the lower cost night hours. We have reversed 70%day / 30% night to become 30%day / 70% night. This saves us money and helps even out loads on the electricity network. Win-Win.” ● “We don’t get cheaper power at night, but we put our Leaf on a night-time timer to reduce pressure on the grid”
Profitable way of being green:
“Solar panels, yes – driving a car charged on your generation is the ultimate. Also will reduce costs of electricity (totally ignoring capital costs). Will help offset road user charges when they come in and help keep EV’s the logical economic choice” ● “I drive an EV to save money, while this government is not charging RUC and power costs are less than the fluctuating oil prices including the over inflated government taxes on fuel…” ● “We wish to be at least carbon neutral and at the same time save money”
It was just good for my wallet:
“I went for an EV purely for the financial sense it made. Nothing else has changed [this respondent chose ‘5’ = ’strongly disagree’]
Putting environmental concerns out there to wider society:
“Buying an EV was part of a trend in our lives that’s been going on for a while, rather than a trigger for starting being environmentally conscious.. But a point to consider is that our purchase of an EV may have made our friends more thoughtful about the environment” ● “I am already committed to doing what I can to reduce household and community greenhouse gas emissions. Buying an EV was however a significant personal step forwards and a public statement that is more ‘out there’ than composting or putting solar panels on the roof (although we do compost and have solar panels already)” ● “I do like the fact that owning an E/V will hopefully have a knock-on effect on other people to both own an E/V and be more green in general”
Showing the kids:
“We are not ‘eco warriors’ but are very much aware of the impact we have on the planet, both individually and as a whole. We have 3 young children who, initially spurred on by our purchase of an EV, have become very much more aware of their energy consumption and wider footprint on the world around them. We now throw away just a small shopping bag sized bag of rubbish each week and recycle the rest (including soft plastics thanks to the New World initiative). More recently we installed a 10Kw solar system that has significantly reduced our power consumption drawn from the grid. We built a modern house that utilises geothermal energy and modern insulation techniques that efficiently keeps our house warm and dry throughout the winter. We feel we are making changes, mostly as a positive example to our family and friends, showing what you can do without that much of a compromise to your lifestyle. In the same way, EVs are starting to become more popular, more mainstream not just because of the ecological bonus, but because it’s a win/win, a ‘no brainer’ to have something that’s great to drive, costs less to keep and to run and is better for the wider world. Nuff said.
Personally stepping up because the government hasn’t:
“What I can’t understand however is why the previous government was so poorly informed and so unwilling to act to transform our land transport system to electric. As a country, we need a vision, targets and a plan to eliminate all fossil fuel transportation for personal use simply to keep the energy dollar local. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions and will hasten the development of renewable generation in a country that is already known as the “Saudi Arabia of Wind”
Part of a bigger sustainable transport package:
“We need the Zero Carbon Act and we need a comprehensive plan and much more important incentives to transform our transport system. I don’t just mean EVs either. I mean dealing also with public transport, active transport, coastal shipping and even work on low emission air transport”
“We are retired and travel less than before” ● “For me the buying the EV wasn’t the spur, it was part of my wider response to reducing my environmental pressure.. that included building a passive low energy house for retirement, sourcing carbon zero electricity, planting trees and engaging with local politicians just for example :)” ● “Buying an EV was part of reducing our costs in retirement” ● “I have been an enviromentalist for about 30 years, have had solar water heating installed when the house was built 2005. I installed 20 solar panels in 2014. The change to an EV was in Oct 2017 – the culmination of my journey. I am a biological regenerist gardener (organic plus). I would like to go off the grid but that may not happen as I am nearly 83”
“We I’ve a quiet life anyway but are very interested in things like flow batteries for back up, thorium nuclear for low pollution energy, possibly sodium-metal or similar battery for replacement in our present Leaf but actually very keen on the 60kwh Leaf when Nissan NZ start to deliver” ● “Working in technology makes me a ready convert to EVs. The lower running costs, the energy efficiency and the performance are the main advantages but the environmental benefits are a nice bonus too”
Good for the planet, cheap to run, practical, and a good ride
“Owning an EV did not spur me into thinking about sustainability. I was already heading down this path and the EV purchase is part of the plan. Having said that sustainability is only part of the reason we purchased and EV. Our main reasons for the EV purchase was that most of the trips it does are less than 30km, minimal maintenance and…… It’s fun” ● “Sustainable living has always been relevant for us with recycling and minimising rubbish and use of solar power. The EV is as much chosen for sustainability as for comfort and driving qualities” ●
Letting your inner bogan out:
“My EV ownership is purely driven by the economics of it. The 70% reduction in my cost of commute was the number one driver. The joy gained from dragging boy racers off at the lights comes in second”
EVs are just a small step to what we must achieve:
“Vehicles only contribute about 11% and industry 17% pollution, whereas deforestation and animal’s (cattle, sheep, goats & poultry) about 60%….”
Caring comes first:
[These respondents chose ‘4’=‘disagree’ or ‘5’=“strongly disagree] ● “I care about my effect on the environment and driving electric is one way I put that into practice. That does not change the way I do things because the caring came first” ● “The cause and effect are the other way around. The sustainability mindset led to EV ownership” ● “I have to disagree because it is the other way round for me: steps towards a more sustainable life has spurred owning an electric vehicle” ● “It was the other way around for me: buying an electric vehicle was a bigger step after reducing waste, flying etc.” ● “I already recycle and reduce plastic waste as much as possible” ● “The complete opposite actually – I have used a garden composter for more than 30 years. Prior to that, while growing up, everything biodegradable fed the vegetable garden. I was planting trees on Arbour Day 60 years ago. A legacy of being raised in a “waste not, want not” family results these days, in my only needing to put out the rubbish and recycling bins every couple of months. EV’s are late to the party…” ● “It was the other way around. My interest in the environment, global warming etc. encouraged me to buy an electric car” ● “Leading a more sustainable life spurred me into getting an EV, not the other way round” ● “Already done plenty of planning, eg for Solar panels, but found them uneconomic on our small roof space. Already planting as many trees as possible. i.e buying the EV is part of the process not an instigator for us” ● “Was already motivated to live sustainably” ● “I’ve always had a sustainable life that’s why I bought an EV” ● “We were on to planting trees, looking to reduce our fossil fuel use AND we needed a new car too. So it wasn’t the car that did it to us, we are already thinking about reducing fossil fuel use a lot” ● “We have been actively reducing waste and working towards a low impact lifestyle. The Electric vehicle is part of this plan” ● “Owning an EV has not really changed my behaviour elsewhere in my life. I’m already somewhat environmentally conscious, so owning an EV was an obvious move for me” ● “We already have solar panels and recycle materials where possible” ● “Because we have always lived a lifestyle where we minimise waste, grow our own food, make compost, installed solar panels, grown trees, lived simply. So for us it’s the other way around. Our choice of lifestyle led us to purchase an EV so we could further reduce our emissions” ● “We took these steps towards a more sustainable life before we bought an electric car. Buying the car was a natural extension of this” ● “In fact buying an EV was the next step I had wanted to take for some time, after previous longstanding personal experience with an electric scooter, solar power and a wind generator” ● “Owning an electric vehicle has resulted in me planting less trees ;-)” ● “Nothing had changed in my life. Already recycle and solar does not make sense for me either now or before. However, a strong reason I brought the car was because of the reduced CO2 emissions” ● “I’ve always been considerate”
This survey was partly funded by the Government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
What should we ask the members next?
Please suggest questions to ask of your fellow EV owners in future 1-click surveys – email your requests to email@example.com.
Henrik Moller, Morgan Knoesen and Dima Ivanov
24 February 2018