Your take-home messages:
NZ owners bought their Battery Electric Vehicle mainly because of its green credentials and lower running costs. The minority were motivated mainly by the BEV’s smart technology, or its quiet and comfortable ride, and a few primarily for the fast pickup. Women placed relatively more emphasis on green credentials, men more on low cost and smart technology. Older owners particularly appreciated the quiet and comfortable ride. Marketing messages may need to change to attract the ‘early majority’ of BEV purchasers rather than relying on what motivated this sample of early adopters to lead the charge.
This month’s poll:
Our eighteenth 1-click survey invited the following responses to the statement”
My most important reason for buying an EV/PHEV was its …
(1) fast pick up
(2) smart technology
(3) low running costs
(4) quiet comfortable ride
(5) green credentials
(6) other features (please comment)
The poll was sent on 10 April 2018 to 683 electric vehicle owners who have enrolled in the Flip the Fleet project • 391 owners responded by 17 March 2018 • 225 respondents provided comments for their choice.
The main reason nominated for buying electric vehicles was their green credentials (49%), followed by low running costs (33%). A small proportion of respondents were primarily attracted by their smart technology (7%), quiet and comfortable ride (4%) and fast pick up (1%). Many of the people who chose ‘other’ commented that there was a whole package of reasons for switching over to electric, so they could not single out one as being more important than the others.
Respondents who commented on their reason for choosing electric vehicles were also invited to record their gender and age. Amongst those who commented and provided a gender, 165 (78%) were men, and 49 (22%) were women. A higher proportion of women (80%) chose to buy electric vehicles because of their green credentials than did men (53%; Fig. 2). Men were more likely (34%) to buy an electric vehicle because of their lower running costs than women (17%), and more likely (9%) to choose EVs because of their smart technology than were women (2%).
Fig.1 The main reasons that men and women bought their electric vehicles. This figure excludes those respondents that chose ‘other’.
Age had little effect on the reasons people chose an EV, though those respondents who identified quiet and comfortable ride as their main reason average about 10 years older than those choosing other reasons.
What makes you Click?
Once again, respondents in Flip the Fleet’s monthly poll have proven they are a dynamic, future-oriented lot who should be in charge – no pun intended – of planetary concerns. Here we highlight a few of the more colourful quotes, but the section at the end lets rip with a fuller record of your wonderful responses.
Nearly half the respondents, at 49%, cite the green credentials as their primary reason for buying an EV. For some, the purchase was fuelled by concerns for their immediate environment, to be assured their kids could ride to school in clean air; for others, it was a global concern. “I did it for the good of the planet,” was a common theme. Both are equally valid, since you can’t have one without the other.
Many comments included that it “felt good” or “made them smile” to own an EV – a clear sense of empowerment in the individual making a difference in the face of serious concerns.
How serious? Deadly serious for some.
“The future of individual transportation needs to be sustainable and that would not happen without vigorous technology improvements. Also, without the challenge being put, and attempted to be met, we have no future,” said one, pulling no punches in regard to human survival.
A like-minded soul linked EV ownership to the prevention of war: “I would say that in almost all wars since World War Two, and even World War One and Two, oil played a huge part in the war and after the war to control vast oil reserves. The Syrian war today is an oil war. Russia has an oil/gas pipeline to Europe. The West-friendly Saudi/Kuwait-proposed pipeline route goes through Syria. The Russia-backed proposed Iran pipeline goes through Syria.”
Another cited Donald Trump: “When he was elected, initial despair led to a realisation that we can’t rely on politicians to sort out our environmental issues and it’s up to us.” Buying an electric vehicle is a good step in that direction.
One respondent put it bluntly: “We’re not plants so why would we live in a greenhouse?”
As many respondents of Flip the Fleet have commented, buying an EV is a decisive step in a bigger journey of carbon-reducing practices such as installing solar energy and reducing air miles. It’s getting started that counts; the rest follows naturally – especially as people realise that, in some respects, saving the planet saves money.
Low running cost was a prime reason for switching to electric for 33% of respondents. “While being green is very important, it’s no good if you can’t afford it,” said one. Another happy customer who loves every aspect of EVs said: “Low running costs on fuel and servicing would be the number one, however the obvious lack of tailpipe emissions was pretty compelling to get me looking into EVs, and then I drove one… I was 100% sold, the instant torque and silent acceleration was addictive. The other benefits then started to make an impact. Silent ride, lower stress driving, full tank in the morning, lower household power costs at night.”
Many respondents found it tough to single out just one reason for their decision: “I hated sitting in Auckland traffic on the great north-western parking lot, burning fuel. I was spending $80-120/week on petrol. Then we saw the Leaf; suddenly, the hybrids were no longer the option. To be all-electric – we already have solar on our roof, the power to take off like a Porsche, the smoothness of a Rolls Royce, the head space that I need and all our other dreams rolled into one great car, it was a no-brainer after that one test drive. We are literally saving $400-500/month on fuel alone, never mind that lack of other expenses for upkeep of the car. We are not producing any pollution with the car. So we could say all five aspects of the questionnaire were valid reasons for us, but economics was the greatest.”
The cost savings extend well beyond the cost of petrol, including the long-life expectancy of EVs. “Most ICVs die at 250,000 km at 24 years. EVs will double or triple that, so the capital cost is smeared over 30+ years, and in theory the depreciation losses will be way lower.”
Another cashed in his Kiwisaver at retirement to buy an EV. “This was a $30,000 ‘reverse’ investment,” he said. It reduced his outgoings at retirement by $2500 to $3000 per year in saved petrol, oil and maintenance costs and the inconvenience of having his car serviced. “If I had invested the $30,000 principle in a term deposit, I would be lucky to get 4% return and any interest gained would be taxed. Buying the EV represented a tax free 10% annual gain on my ‘investment’.”
Similar savings can be achieved with a mixed fleet: “With four vehicles in the household, we changed one to electric and are on track to save around $3000 per year.”
Other comments included beating the Auckland Regional and proposed government levies, and upgrading to an EV to avoid the increasingly high maintenance costs of ageing ICE cars. Hybrids also scored a mention in regards to maintenance: “We also wanted a vehicle that had less environmental impact so were looking at hybrids until we realised that full BEVs were available and a viable option. A hybrid was still going to have all the ICE maintenance issues as well as possible EV issues. A full BEV, like the Nissan Leaf, removes a lot of the ongoing maintenance issues, has less on-going impact on the environment, and other benefits (quieter running, fast acceleration, etc).”
For more examples of savings, see “Doing the Sums” below in the Comments section.
The smart technology option attracted 7% of all respondents (Fig 1), and especially some men (Fig. 2), including one who quipped: “The geek shall inherit the Earth.”
But smart technology, in this case, is another word for simple, and geekiness is not necessary in owning an EV. “Smart technology is only one reason we bought the car. I could choose all the options; it’s easier on the environment, cheaper to run and a nice ride. It’s easy to drive. There is no complicated technology for a non-techo to have to learn; you just plug it in at home and get in and drive.”
As a developing technology, EVs inevitably still have a way to go in battery technology. It seems that the Flip the Fleet forum is a useful place for owners to air some grumbles.
“Had we been unable to get an electric vehicle that could do my commute (120km), we would have gone for a hybrid to at least cut emissions. However, my car is really, really struggling with the cold weather and will not make it home without an extra charge before heading home – not at all what I was told it would be able to do,” bemoaned one owner.
Despite this, some owners see an EV as future-proofing, by getting comfortable with EV technology before it becomes mainstream with the arrival of faster charging and longer range, which will in turn see ICE cars drop in value. “The ICE car is such dated technology at the end of its life cycle. Who owns a product that’s only 20% efficient?”
The adoption of EV technology by big players such as Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Government is an important endorsement that New Zealand is well on the road to widespread EV ownership.
A quiet comfortable ride:
The quiet, comfortable ride attracted 4% of respondents as a primary reason. It was also noted as a bonus for many others. “Although I’m green, and the car is economic, the main reason was a quiet and sportively driving car. This is especially nice when you’re tired. I’m using the car for commuting.”
This reason was more common amongst older people. An elderly, hearing-impaired couple appreciated the quiet-running of the car, because they can now enjoy a nice chat while driving. How cool is that?
Fast pick up:
Just five people or one percent highlighted the fast pick up/acceleration as the prime reason for buying, but if EVs had extremely slow pick-up, it could possibly be a deterrent.
There was a serious omission from our poll – safety: “The six-star safety rating of the Leaf – we were expecting our first child at the time of purchase, and couldn’t find a safer car.”
Discussion, conclusions and recommendations:
There is plenty to think about in your scores and comments.
Firstly, the results of this month’s survey backed up some of the assertions made in last month’s one about gender (http://flipthefleet.org/2018/1-click-survey-17/). There is statistically significant evidence here that women are more likely to switch for environmental reasons and men are more attracted to the tech and cost savings (Fig. 2). So although women are equally likely to buy an EV as men, they do so for different reasons. We should target our EV marketing messages accordingly.
One respondent perceptively pointed out that the immediate reason for purchasing an EV is different from a reason for switching: She/he said: “Reason (environmental benefits) is distinct from trigger. I did it now because the technology became sufficiently capable and affordable”. Others pointed out that they finally bought because their old car died or was starting to cost too much. We have met many people who stated that their next car would be an EV but in the meantime there was life left in their old ICE vehicle, or that they wanted to wait until the range or affordability improved – see 1-click survey #11 for details of this strategy http://flipthefleet.org/2017/when-should-people-buy-first-ev/.
Your testimony and the quantification of the benefits that you provide in your monthly uploads provide assurance and confidence to prospective buyers, but as one of you pointed out, it’s the beliefs of the ones following on that count most if we are to accelerate EV uptake: “We really need someone to do the same survey amongst people that are on the brink of switching, or hardly have thought about switching. Last month’s survey about the gender issues was interesting, but really, we need to forget about the petrol heads – figure out what those in a more open frame of mind think and aim the messages at them.” We agree, because as uptake diffuses more into the general population, their reasons for buying (or more importantly, not buying) will be different from you lot that have taken the plunge. There is a lot of research about what affects uptake of new ideas and technologies. An important early model was suggested by Everett Rogers. He recognised several groups of potential adopters (Fig. 3) in which you BEV owners will be considered innovators and experimenters, or early adopters. The next challenge is to get the “early majority” into electric vehicles. If you redraw Rogers’ graph as an uptake curve, it comes out something like Fig. 4. Your help to Flip the Fleet is all about shifting the curves to bring about earlier capture of the benefits and solutions to the urgent environmental problems that many of you have reported here. The main lesson here is that the reasons and relative importance of the motivations will change as we go from left to right in Figure 4. So our messages as a movement might have to change as we bring more people into our club. As the previously mentioned respondent said – maybe we shouldn’t waste breath on the petrol heads (they’ll be laggards in Rogers’ model) and get on with crafting the key messages for the “early majority”.
Figure 3. E.M. Roger’s “Diffusion of Innovations” model.
Figure 4. The model in Figure 3 has been turned into an uptake curve. With your help we hope to bring the curve forward, to be steeper, and reach a “critical mass” earlier when the uptake has its own momentum without help from the EV community.
Many of you expressed multiple reasons for buying EVs, and that some of the reasons for appreciating the vehicles emerge later (see http://flipthefleet.org/2018/1-click-survey-16/). This is a clear warning, that we have stressed in earlier reports, to not single out just one reason in our communications and advocacy campaigns. It was also obvious that even though people differed in their main reason for taking up EVs, they felt their own reason very keenly indeed. So, whatever your own passion, please don’t think it’s the only reason for buying an BEV and please be careful to not diss other peoples’ beliefs and thinking – we are all in this together. Whatever your reason for not having a tailpipe, we are all avoiding sending kilograms of GHGs into the atmosphere.
Your comments in detail:
Below is a lightly edited and re-arranged selection of many of the comments received. We have arranged the topics in order of overall importance signalled by the scores (Fig.1) except that the ‘Other category’ appears at the end.
Stepping up, doing our bit
“Acutely conscious of climate change and the effect of fossil fuels on that. It seemed to be the way I could personally make the most difference to my carbon footprint” ● “I want to do my part to minimise fossil fuel usage” ● “If we’re going to claim to be clean and green, we need to all walk the talk and this was one way in which I as an individual could contribute. It is also so quiet and smooth to drive that it’s a no-brainer really. And there’s operational cost savings as well” ● “Every single one of us has a part to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Electric cars are a huge step in reducing emissions, and are technologically superior to the internal combustion engine. There’s no downside” ● “Because my motivation always was around concerns re environment issues, however cost has been a very helpful way to sell the EVs to others” ● “I needed to replace my car and wanted one that wasn’t going to contribute to global warming like an ICE does. A very close second was low running costs” ● “Was intending to put PVs on the roof but the car is better for the environment & better for our budget” ● “Because we are very concerned about global warming and want to do what we can in our lives to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions” ● “For several years, we had a sticker on the back of our car. “Our next car will be electric”. Eventually, the old car expired and we got an EV”
Fossil fuels are for dinosaurs
“I was feeling very uncomfortable about how much diesel I was spending traveling for a conservation-allied organisation. When I realised that I could have a car that was green and cost-effective we quickly bought a Leaf then up graded to a Zoe. We have just done over $10,000km in 5 months. The e-car definitely helps reduce our carbon-footprint” ● “Burning carbon based fuels is risky” ● “We wanted to move away from fossil fuels and reduce or impact on the environment. Lower running costs is a bonus”
Dear Earth, we love you
“We now know that humans have put huge pressures on the wellbeing of our planet and we hope that one small step from each of us can mean one huge step from mankind” ● “because I believe that moving away from fossil fuels could play a small part in preventing the human race from making the planet unliveable”
Concerns over climate change
“Renewable energy is the only way to go” ● “The EV offers the opportunity to walk/drive the talk of a transition to a green economy that is required for our Paris Climate agreement targets and for a healthier environment” ● “We don’t have any choices anymore….” ● “The internal combustion engine must be destroyed”
“EVs are definitely not completely ‘green’, but they are a fairly ‘low-inconvenience’ way that the average person can contribute towards a better environmental future, while also enjoying the associated benefits of EV vs ICE – and helping better NZ’s trade deficit situation. We need to reduce our fossil fuel consumption ASAP and EVs are a good start” ● “The current govt focus on public transport is a waste of money unless it provides a significantly favourable, practical alternative to personal (commuter) transport – a situation which in a tiny economy like NZ’s, is not going to happen any time soon for most people, no matter how much taxes are raised. Even larger centres like Auckland have woefully inadequate, frequently unreliable public transport that takes twice as long to reach a destination as the average car, or about the same at peak times. So cars it is for now… they may as well be EVs” ● “We are using an EV is a stepping stone towards justifying the investment in an electricity transmission system where vehicles can store energy and provide it to the national grid at peak times; ie, along with domestic PV electricity production. A decentralised electricity network is desirable for efficiency and in times of national disaster” ● “For me, it’s a mixture of all the above. Including the independence of fuel supply from the rest of the world” ● “Tired of ICE pollution, reliance on fuel imports, use of renewable energy” ● “To highlight my wish to ease our collective dependence on non-renewable resources like oil” ● “I hate the fossil fuel companies most out of all the corporations. Being able to free myself from them is fantastic” ● “We have to reduce our reliance on oil” ● “I have a long term plan to be carbon neutral by 2020 when I will be 80yrs. When my car needed major repairs that was the time to replace with an EV” ● “Simply to save the planet”
The politicians won’t do it for us
“Donald Trump. But seriously, I’ve wanted to be more green but still be mobile for many years. When he was elected, initial despair led to a realisation that we can’t rely on politicians to sort out our environmental issues and it’s up to us” ● “Because I am so extremely concerned that governments and corporations are doing nothing about climate change, environmental degradation, etc”.
The global picture
“The EV offers the opportunity to walk ….drive the talk of a just transition to a green economy that is required for our Paris Climate agreement targets and for a healthier environment” ● “Petrol should be saved for all the other stuff it’s used for. Not ICEs” ● “Keen to be green”
“I spent much more on my vehicle that I would have considered, were it a fossil-fuelled vehicle, and am aware that it takes a dedicated few to open the pathways for others to follow – I would like to count myself amongst those pioneers and am certainly eager to spread the word whenever possible” ● “I wanted to be part of the movement of getting away from using fossil fuels and using better, smarter technology for the future. And this car has all of that and more. It has got the fast pick-up and comfortable, quiet, smooth ride and low running costs. It just makes me smile” ● “I have always hated using so much energy (fossil fuel) to get up a hill then get nothing back going down the other side – except heated up/worn out brake pads. The regen of EVs is great, would like it to be even more efficient” ● “Chosen as a part of my response to the global climate change issue” ● “Because every little bit helps” ● “We wanted to do our bit for the planet while we are still here. Buying an EV went well with PV panels and an LG Chem battery in our garage” ● “I’m in the field of sustainability & concerned about global warming” ● “My second choice would have been cost saving, but petrol is affordable for me. I’m really just keen to play my part in improving the environment, and helping to provide critical mass by being an early(ish) adopter to the change I see as necessary” ● “I work for an organisation that is involved in climate change research and I should walk the talk” ● “It best matches the complex of reasons for choosing an EV”
The air that I breathe
“We do a lot of town driving, kids to and from school etc. We wanted a Leaf so we weren’t contributing to the fumes” ● “Every kilometre I drive my EV is that much less CO2 going into the atmosphere. EVs are the future of climate-friendly transport in NZ” ● “I care very much about the environment; we make so much mess” ● “The reduced environmental impact of an emissions-free vehicle that was also a joy to drive, and cheap to run was a no-brainer to me” ● “People must stop using fossil fuels for transportation. It is not sustainable and also ruins our environment” ● “Hated driving a car prior to the Leaf, knowing I was contributing to greenhouse gas emissions each time I drove the ICE. Not to mention deteriorating air quality of the city”
I’m part of something bigger
“I wanted to ‘do the right thing’ in terms of the environment – zero carbon emissions and exhaust pollution – even though it was not the cheapest option it seemed the right thing to do considering we could afford it. Having said this, since owning an EV I have been really impressed with how quiet and comfortable it is to drive and the acceleration when needed” ● “I like being part of the move to a more sustainable world, in whatever small ways I can. The other benefits are a bonus for me, and some were an unexpected surprise” ● “It was the biggest thing we could do as a household to knock back our collective carbon emissions”
“Because I’m not a selfish national voter” ● “I am, in many ways, both conservative and Right Wing: a Blue-Green. I am fortunate in that, whilst I am not rich – never will be – I am have plenty of money to see me through. So why would I not choose a PEV, to set an example and encourage sales and also for a bit of fun in my Old Age – though I do recognize the arguments for a plug-in hybrid. And indeed, it is safe, and is a lot of fun to drive. THANK YOU for the opportunity to comment on my reasons” ● “However I don’t see a swop from petro-cars to electric cars being an answer to the traffic congestion here in Tauranga. We badly need a better public transport system – ELECTRIC of course” ● “Because I think it’s one part of a move away from fossil fuels that needs to happen. A hard choice between this and saving money on running costs” ● “We’re not plants so why would we live in a greenhouse?” ● “Because we must stop burning fossil fuels urgently and we must lead by example”
We don’t have a planet B.
“Global warming is the biggest current threat to the planet. We each need to do everything within our power to address this” ● “Because it’s the future., and this is my way of showing my support” ● “I’ve got kids and wanted to do my piece to leave them a planet worth living in”
Combat climate change – now!
“Climate change requires urgent action. Some scientists believe that even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, we will still face catastrophic warming” ● “We are constantly looking at how to reduce our carbon impact. Our EV is a big part of this” ● “We’re seriously concerned about climate change and saw this as one way we could reduce our GHG emissions being blessed to live in a country like NZ that has such a high proportion of its electricity generated renewably” ● “My main reason for buying my Leaf was to combat climate change. It seemed the most practical step we could take at home. The EV revolution is especially heartening because it is welling up from the community, just like planting trees. Most of us need a car but not many of us have land for planting a lot of trees, so what possible excuse could we have as a reasonably wealthy family to not switch over to electric. If your question had allowed us to rank several options rather than choosing the most important one, low running costs would have been my second after green credentials because my partner and I are coming into retirement and want to minimise living costs from now on. The comfortable ride idea comes third for me. I don’t care about technology for its own sake, and until EVs arrived had zero interest in cars for their own sake” ● “We are on the cusp of serious global warming. Anything we can do to reduce greenhouse emissions must be done – and promptly” ● “Climate change is the biggest and most immediate existential risk to humanity. It’s important to act and reduce emissions” ● “I am a life-long environmentalist, Green Party member and early Greenpeace member (1973). Reduction of fossil fuel use is a key concern for me as it is a main trigger for climate change” ● “Reduction of GHG emissions is critical” ● “Tricky – all of those listed were relevant to us! Low running costs & NO tailpipe were jointly #1, but we had to choose just one – so GREEN it is…”
Taking the car from carbon footprint
“De-carbonising the fleet is the easiest way to reduce our carbon footprint” ● “Everyone should contribute towards making this planet cleaner. I’m doing my bit by using a zero carbon emission car” ● “Using our PHEV has significantly reduced our carbon emissions. It was expensive but allows us to be able to tell our children: “Hey, we really tried to make a difference” ● “Using an electric car is one of the easiest ways of reducing your carbon emissions” ● “It was the biggest thing we could do as a household to knock back our collective carbon emissions” ● “I wanted to move towards a fossil fuel-free future and I could afford to”
“I have a hobby with building cars. I was keen to build an EV because clearly this is the way of the future, but the parts to build a good one are outside my hobby budget. Unlike an ICE car where good, second hand parts are cheap. Interestingly, you could buy a cheap Leaf for less $ than the basic drive-line parts for an EV project. So, to join the revolution I decided hunt out and purchase the best deal I could get in State of Health (SOH) of the battery; ie, percentage of energy-holding capacity now compared to when car was brand new” ● “I got 72% SOH for $9300 private sale, and drove it home. This car now serves many purposes. Family members use it as their first choice for local travel and I find the whole experience fascinating” ● “As an automotive repair workshop it is one way to enable us to get onboard with the technology in a EV” ● “I wanted something unusual – electric is the way of the future and I was able to build a two seater open roadster with an electric motor and decent performance I don’t think I can beat one of those damn Teslas – but it’s faster than 99% of cars on the road
Make power, not war
“Not supporting the Military Industrial Complex. “Break the Machine” ….. “Break the Oil Machine”. The Military Industrial Complex has brought has a lot to answer for…. How many wars do we, “The West” fight for oil? To enjoy our Standard of Living at the expense of others, we don’t source oil that is environmentally extracted or only sourced from democratic countries. No one asked the gas station where the oil comes from? Much like you ask the restaurant if your fish was caught sustainably. — I would say almost all wars since WW2 and even WW1 and 2 oil played a huge part in the war and after the war the control vast oil reserves. The Syrian war today is an oil war. Russia has an oil / gas pipeline to Europe, The West-friendly Saudi/Kuwait proposed pipeline route goes thru Syria. Russia backed proposed Iran pipeline goes thru Syria. This is an oil war. “Break the Machine”!!! EVs have the best chance to Break the Military Industrial Complex” ● “Reducing imported fuel from foreign trouble makers”
Low Running costs
Minding the wallet
“Save money, save the planet” ● “Petrol costs are going to increase. With EVs you can explore other options; e.g. solar, if electricity becomes expensive” ● “While some of the other choices are important, reducing transport costs was my primary objective” ● “Cheaper to run than my old car” ● “low cost was the most important reason, but all the other options were considerations as well” ● “Low cost is the main real advantage of ownership compared to other vehicles” ● “EVs are way cheaper to run than a conventional car and this was the main argument I used to convince my wife to make the switch” ● “I’m stingy and my wife is an accountant” ● “The fuel cost for my daily city commute was getting too high. I am also conscious of the environmental impact of my ICE” ● “Low running costs is tightly tied into green credentials. So while the return-on-investment financial calculation is easier to do, I also considered impact in the planet. I went from driving a 2001 4wd station wagon for my 30km round trip daily commute to a 2011 Nissan Leaf – it was a no brainer at a cost of $11,950 for the Leaf” ● “Green credentials are important but I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it didn’t stack up financially” ● “I love the Green credentials too, but ultimately, the low running costs, and maintenance costs are what attracted me” ● “It was getting too expensive to run my petrol car and to do my commute to work. There is only one bus a day from where I live, which would cost $23/day and require me to work at least two hours a day at home. That would not suit my employer and would require my family to take me to and from the bus stop as it would not be a safe cycle ride. However, the green credentials for owning an electric vehicle in NZ ranked up next to the costs. Had we been unable to get an electric vehicle that could do my commute (120km) we would have gone for a hybrid to at least cut emissions. However, my car is really, really struggling with the cold weather and will not make it home without an extra charge before heading home – not at all what I was told it would be able to do :(“ ● “Hard choice between this and finance. I think we may pay more in the long run vs my old ICE, but the cost/benefit was close enough and the green benefits outweigh any added costs”
“We have always had older cars which cost a lot to maintain and fuel, especially as they are mostly used for small journeys (more wear, less efficient). So I saw buying an EV as spending money to save money. Minimal pollution was also a large factor” ● “We are saving so much money that the car will pay for itself in very short amount of time” ● “We do around 20,000km per year. The Leaf will pay for itself in about four years” ● “Because EV total cost of ownership are lower than fossil-fuelled cars”
Doing the sums
“Here is a tip for prospective EV purchasers and also my strategy for buying my 2016 Leaf. I decided at retirement in April 2017 that I would cash in my Kiwisaver and use a portion of it to buy an EV. This was a $30,000 ‘reverse’ investment. This meant that I would effectively reduce my financial outgoings at retirement by $2500. to $3000. per year in saved petrol, oil and maintenance costs. If I had invested the $30,000 principle in a term deposit I would be lucky to get 4% return and any interest gained would be taxed. Buying the EV represented a tax free 10% annual gain on my ‘investment’. This is a no brainer from a financial point of view. But remember that my focus is sustainability and carbon reduction. Win-win but really a triple win because my peace of mind has grown exponentially as well” ● “We estimate we are saving around $120 / week on petrol alone (one car replacement, and the second car 50% reduced usage as we use the EV whenever possible” ● “Ongoing costs are very important and outweigh upfront costs where finance options are relatively good. While being green is very important, it’s no good if you can’t afford it. In our case there was a $20 a week difference between the petrol and maintenance costs of the previous vehicle and getting the Leaf with finance” ● “With 4 vehicles in the household, we took the opportunity to change one to electric. We initially calculated that we would save around $3000 per year. After a month of having an electric vehicle we are on track to achieve this” ● “Electric vehicles also have few moving parts which results in less maintenance being required and should also result in a longer life expectancy than fossil fuel vehicles (excluding the batteries at this stage). I have read that they are expected to last for about 800,000 km” ● “Due to very high cost of fuel for daily commute to work and school for the whole family” ● “The public transport cost is even higher when the whole family has to commute” ● “Because that’s why we bought an EV! We must save $40 a week on petrol now and that’s before the Auckland Regional and proposed government levies are introduced” ● “I was sick of spending $100 a week commuting to and from work”
Less to maintain
“Lower running costs and less time spent doing maintenance, etc. It allowed me to take a gamble on a car that cost more up front than I was used to paying and outweighed the other disadvantages such as reduced range” ● “We were looking for a vehicle with lower maintenance costs to replace our Toyota RAV4. We also wanted a vehicle that had less environmental impact so were looking at hybrids until we realised that full BEVs were available and a viable option. A hybrid was still going to have all the ICE maintenance issues as well as possible EV issues. A full BEV, like the Nissan Leaf, removes a lot of the ongoing maintenance issues, has less on-going impact on the environment, and has a number of other benefits (quieter running, fast acceleration, etc)” ● “One reason the running costs are low is because electric motors are considerably more efficient than those that run on fossil fuels. This appeals to me” ● “I was sick of cars that needed lots of maintenance, and I also wanted to reduce our fortnightly expenses on petrol. The environmental reasons were important too, so when I realised the total cost of ownership would be similar over 4-5 years, the low running costs enabled it to happen – to leave behind the headaches of traditional cars, and have something smarter and more eco-friendly” ● “I got tired of forking out large sums for even just routine services and there always seemed to be something that needed renewing”
“We got solar and we see the car as an extra battery on wheels” ● “In 2005 we installed solar hot water heating and in 2011 we installed a 20 panel PV array on the roof so we can smartly charge the Leaf for ‘free’ when the sun shines. The EV has been one important component in our mission to live lighter on the planet” ● “I believe that a major aspect of curbing Climate Change is to stop burning fossil fuels. I generate most of my recharge electricity from solar panels and most of the grid electricity I use comes from renewable sources” ● “Decided I could make better use of surplus power from my solar panels than selling it back to the power company at 7 cents per unit” ● “Think we might have said before but have had solar panels, vege garden for years, stopped burning coal, try to live lightly on the land so an EV was a part of this evolution. Not purists tho – still have an elderly diesel bus!” ● “soak up excess PV!”
A new car, for less
“I had previously owned an old diesel van which was expensive on fuel. Chose to replace it with an electric van which is cheaper to run” ● “Our old cars were starting to cost us a lot of money, as we were looking to upgrade I did the math on an EV and it stacked up financially despite the higher initial outlay. After a test drive I was very happy with the Leaf and it fit our other requirements for space, comfort, etc, so we went for it” ● “Our old car was dying so we needed a replacement. We started looking at EVs as in a normal week we only do approximately 100-120kms. EVs seemed like a great alternative for this small amount of kms. And we are so pleased we made the change” ● “We do a lot of running around the city and live in Brighton so it is a 36km round trip with up to three trips a day; this adds up in running costs. The last two vehicles we owned had a high maintenance cost and losing the use of the vehicle is an inconvenience with only one vehicle and one driver in the family”
Petrol price hikes
“Petrol was too expensive and only going to get worse Plus charging at home on night rate electricity was cheap power as well” ● “The disparity between petrol and electricity prices was how I justified purchasing a new car that was electric” ● “Never having to buy petrol again was the main reason. Then the low running costs. But I also liked the green aspect of an electric car” ● “Not having to pay high prices for petrol is brilliant” ● “High cost of fuel in the south! Typically, 20 cents more than in Auckland”
All power to electric power
“The cost of fuel is rising and will continue to rise way above the rate of electricity – and you can generate your own electricity” ● “We weren’t using all the power from our PV panels so an EV made sense and I love the smooth quiet performance” ● “Have just passed new WOF and one year of ownership. The only outgoings have been charging which is barely noticeable on home electricity costs and infrequent use of paid DC charging stations”
A quiet and comfortable ride
“As I and my wife are both hearing-impaired, conversation is possible, especially when we drive on Hot seal roads. 85 YR OLD” ● “Small cars are prone to a very harsh ride because of their light weight. A Leaf is heavy and makes it a much more comfortable ride” ● “Now that we have an EV, we are really appreciating the quiet and comfortable drive, but also good performance, low running costs, ease of charging that comes with an EV” ● “Green credentials was just pipped by the quiet, comfortable factor” ● “Best-driving car we have ever had” ● “Although I’m “green”, and the car is economic, the main reason was a quiet and a sportively driving car. This is especially nice when you’re tired”
“The geek will inherit the Earth” ● “Lifelong interest in electric cars” ● “Smart technology is only one reason we bought the car. I could choose all the options; it’s easier on the environment, cheaper to run and a nice ride. It’s easy to drive. There is no complicated technology for a non-techo to have to learn; you just plug it in at home and get in and drive” ● “Interested in technology and the benefits it can bring to a worried world” ● “Reason (environmental benefits) is distinct from trigger. I did it now because the technology became sufficiently capable and affordable” ● “Green credentials but almost as important was the smart technology” ● “The technology is sufficiently sophisticated at this stage that EV’s are a viable alternative to petrol vehicles. Additionally, at this stage of my life I can afford it” ● “I had been driving a Prius, which I’d had for 11 years, and when I bought it hybrid was the most achievable environmental technology. I drove the Prius until the battery failed and then switched to pure EV 🙂 ● I handed back a company car when I realised I could buy an EV for <$20k and satisfy my curiosity about the technology. I will be better prepared for making a future buying decision when there is more choice” ● “The future of individual transportation needs to be sustainable and that would not happen without vigorous technology improvements. Also, without the challenge being put and attempted to be met we have no future” ● “The ICE car is such dated technology at the end of its life cycle. Who owns a product that’s only 20% efficient?”
“I love never stopping at a petrol station, the low running cost is awesome and I’m not at all against the environmental benefits, but realistically it’s all about that electric torque” ● “Dragging off others seems a puerile goal. Actually, I get a shock when I inadvertently spin my wheels when taking off at the lights with Drive mode selected. The results of this 1-click survey will be interesting in signalling what motivates the early adopters”
Baby on board
“The 6-star safety rating of the Leaf – we were expecting our first child at the time of purchase, and couldn’t find a safer car.
Life’s too short, just have some fun!
“Just to have some fun at age 78. Easy driving and low overall running costs”
It feels so good!
“I chose a EV, a Tesla, for its beauty. How it makes me smile. In a word, for fun” ● “It’s a Tesla 😆. I wanted a luxury car and it’s the only EV at the moment that is” ● I really enjoy not contributing to pollution due to petrol cars” ● “It’s wonderful to know that we’ll never use another drop of fossil fuel for our car! Sunshine rules!” ● “It feels like the right thing to do for the future of the planet”
Corporate leadership, Traffic jams, lifestyle considerations
“I saw that big business Air NZ and Government are also getting in behind EV cars” ● “I hated sitting in Auckland traffic on the great north-western parking lot, burning fuel. I was spending $80-120/week on petrol. So when my petrol car died I went looking for a hybrid or electric alternative. I tried the Lexus hybrid and the petrol engine wouldn’t turn off, so that was a huge turn-off to me. Then we saw the Leaf after about two months of searching; suddenly, the hybrids were no longer the option. To be all-electric – we already have solar on our roof, the power to take off like a Porsche, the smoothness of a Rolls Royce, the head space that I need and all our other dreams rolled into one great car, it was a no-brainer after that one test drive. We are literally saving $400-500/month on fuel alone, never mind that lack of other expenses for upkeep of the car. We are not producing any pollution with the car. So we could say all five aspects of the questionnaire were valid reasons for us, but economics was the greatest” ● “Hard to pick which was the “most important” as low running costs were a major consideration as well as green credentials (70-year-old)” ● “It fits my lifestyle and self-sufficiency” ● “Car manufacturing declaring they are going electric and European countries also”
It’s lots of reasons rolled into one package
“My answer would be “all the above” in about equal measure. However, in my opinion, the EV has not really arrived for most consumers because battery technology is still evolving, having been neglected for nearly a century because fossil fuels were easily sourced and so energy-dense. The current energy density of lithium batteries is still too low [over 200km range requires a battery that is impracticably heavy], so the range is too limited if you want to have a single vehicle to meet all your needs. We have retained our ICE [Honda CRV] for longer trips [over 150km]. In reality our EV provides about 95% of our mileage, we far prefer the experience of traveling in the EV and the cost of retaining the CRV is easily off-set by the savings on the cost of running/maintaining the EV [eNV200]” ● “Low running costs on fuel and servicing would be the number one, however the obvious lack of tailpipe emissions was pretty compelling to get me looking into EVs, and then I drove one… I was 100% sold, the instant torque and silent acceleration was addictive. The other benefits then started to make an impact. Silent ride, lower stress driving, full tank in the morning, lower household power costs at night” ● “I drive electric for all the reasons listed above. However, there are mainly other reasons we chose a Leaf, mostly the green credentials” ● “Difficult to choose just one. Also chose because of smart technology and green credentials” ● “Really, the whole package of EV/PHEV appeals. “I could have chosen any or all of the options but Green credentials seemed the most relevant” ● “Well the green credentials were far and away the most important, but all the other reasons given were several layers of icing on a luscious cake” ● “Most of the above (2, 3, 4 and 5). We don’t know what you mean by “fast pick up” – the acceleration? If so, and while that’s nice, it wasn’t a major factor – but the other four all contributed to the decision” ● “A combination of low running costs, green efficiency and way of the future” ● “all the above except point.1 (Fast Pick up)” ● “Because we had an equal combination of 3 and 5 and the fact that we knew our 1999 Nissan Pulsar (manual, ICE) would not last forever, that we are getting older (70s) and are possibly better equipped now to adapt to new motoring ways than we might be in the future” ● “I am in the financial position of being able to do my part in decreasing global warming. We only have one planet – and burning hydrocarbons is having a deleterious effect on the earth and its inhabitants. This was the primary reason for buying a Leaf. But since driving one for a few years the EV gives so much joy – and financial savings”
Comments on our survey
“We really need someone to do the same survey amongst people that are on the brink of switching, or hardly have thought about switching. Last month’s survey about the gender issues was interesting, but really, we need to forget about the petrol heads – figure out what those in a more open frame of mind think and aim the messages at them” ● “Your surveys are ace – keep them coming!” [Thanks! We really enjoy them too – your passion as early adopters is stunning and makes this all worthwhile. And your comments give a human touch to the numbers and power the media releases along]
What should we ask the members next?
This month’s survey topic was suggested by Kathryn Fitzpatrick from EECA’s communications team. Please suggest questions to ask of your fellow EV owners in future 1-click surveys – email your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Flip the Fleet, thank you to all EV owners for your scores and comments. Your participation directly contributes to our work in encouraging more EVs on our roads – and taking the ‘car’ from carbon emissions.
This survey was partly funded by the Government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Rebecca Hayter, Henrik Moller, Daniel Myall, Tanya Levshina, and Dima Ivanov
21 April 2018