“What happens if my car runs out of electricity?”

It’s a question Anton Vikstrom, sustainability champion, electric vehicle expert and co-founder of the Good Car Company, has answered many times. He doesn’t hesitate.

“You pull over and call roadside assistance,” he says with a wry grin.

That’s before he explains that it’s quite hard to run out, because the car gives realtime updates on your remaining mileage, and you can use various apps to plan your route via Australia’s growing network of fast chargers. Plus in an emergency, unlike a petrol car, you can recharge at any standard powerpoint.

Anton will be back to answer more questions at our second webinar on Electric Vehicles on Wednesday November 11 at 6pm. He will also outline how he and his colleagues are aiming to kickstart the transition to electric transport by importing low mileage recent second hand electric vehicles from more mature markets such as Japan.

Electric cars aren’t going to fix climate change on their own but they are an important part of a zero emissions future, and they’re also really smart pieces of technology. There’s something very exciting about a car which is virtually silent, with no exhaust, which needs little maintenance and runs on sunshine. And if you join our community bulk-buy in collaboration with the Good Car Company, you could be driving one sooner than you think.

Our last Electric Vehicle Webinar was a sell-out, so we recommend you register as soon as possible, and please tell your friends and family to get on board too.

https://events.humanitix.com/accelerate-wed-11-nov

It’s going to be a fun journey.

Community is an amazing thing! When Mosman Council decided to restart its arts and crafts market (after a COVID hiatus) a team of ZESN volunteers sprang into action to organise a stall. As well as a range of information brochures, we had three electric cars on display across the day, electric bikes available to try out, a variable speed pool pump and demonstrations of house energy audit kit. HUGE THANKS to everyone who worked so hard, and to Mosman Council for their ongoing support and encouragement. 10/10 would recommend!

Three Zero Emissions Volunteers
The Sunglasses Team: Louise, Lesley and Fay
Young volunteer Mosman Market
Our youngest volunteer, Theo, demonstrates how to measure household energy consumption.

As a partner with local real estate agency Cunninghams, Georgi Bates is often asked for advice on house builds, layouts and renovations. Should we put on solar? Should we have a battery? Do they affect the value of our home?

When I drop by to talk about sustainability trends in real estate, the answers are clear. From the street, Matt and Georgi Bates’ house looks much like its neighbours: a weatherboard cottage with a picket fence and a bullnose verandah. But walk out the back and it’s all happening. There’s a new garage going up on the back boundary, complete with solar panels to heat the new pool. There’s an electric car charger, batteries and a green wall, ready to plant.

“We’re pretty much off the grid,” says Matt. “The oven’s running off the battery and we’re feeding to the grid. We have about 6kW [of panels] on the roof, providing about 5.5kW per hour. We realistically only need about 3kW per hour for our charging and usage.

“We’ve got a Tesla [car]. We’re putting in a pool, and that’s going to have heating costs, but we’re not going to run it on gas. We’re putting more solar and another battery on. We’re going to run it on the sun and the battery.”

Matt and Georgi’s top TV tips: Ewen McGregor’s Long Way Up, a rollicking adventure through South America on *electric* Harley-Davidsons!

A self-confessed sustainability nerd, Matt has driven the research and design of their renovation. Georgi, meanwhile, has driven the Tesla.

“I’m not a car person. But particularly during Covid, working from home, the Tesla is another office, another workspace. I recently got into a petrol car and it felt like a dinosaur. It was a nice car, but it’s amazing the difference of the sound and fuel compared to battery operated.”

Beyond their own home, Georgi is seeing interest in solar power, sustainable building and energy efficient housing growing.

“It starts with someone [putting on solar] in the street then everyone is curious. They all speak to Matt and ask about the benefits. And I’m starting to see more of a shift with people wanting to put green gardens on their garage roofs, or looking into rooftop gardens.”

This trend is set to strengthen with recent developments in the building codes. At the moment the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme – aka NatHERS — requires new houses to score at least 6 out of 10 for energy efficiency. In 2021, NatHERS is set to be extended to existing homes, so that when you buy or sell, just like household appliances, each property will come with an energy efficiency star rating. At which point it’s not just about saving money on a power bill: it directly affects the value of your house. So Matt and Georgi are not just champions for sustainability: they’re smart investors.

“I think sustainability is the future of real estate. It will become one of the must haves.”

Georgi Bates is a partner at Cunninghams Real Estate. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, or just to find out more about the market, she’s happy to hear from you.

 

 

 

A guest post from Robert Gavin and Di Elliffe, owners of Evie the Nissan Leaf, who recently took them all the way from Hobart to the Northern Beaches. Rob and Di participated in the Good Car Company‘s first community bulk buy.

We are not frequent car drivers. Our preference is for active transport – riding our electric bicycles and walking – around our hometown (Hobart) and when we are in Curl Curl we use our Brompton folding bicycles, and public transport for longer trips.

But, like most families, we occasionally find a car convenient … so when our existing fuel sipping car was due for a trade-in we took advantage of The Good Car Co bulk electric vehicle purchase of second hand imported Nissan Leaf sedans – and so Evie joined our household in May 2020.

The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy, or join us at ‘Accelerate your transition’, our free webinar on electric transport.

Evie is a 2017 Nissan Leaf with a 30kWh battery. When we bought her she had done 13,000 kilometres, and she cost $30,000 … effectively, almost a new car at just over half the price of a current model. Inside and out, she was in perfect condition, and The Good Car Co ensure the battery is at least 85% useable prior to purchase. The cost included purchase, shipping to Australia, conversion to Australian standards, and insurance while in transit – all handled by The Good Car Co.

Her first job was to help us move all our household goods into storage. The back seats fold down to provide a good volume of space (though a little odd in shape). Evie excelled at this task, quietly running to and from our store with countless loads of boxes. Around Hobart she averaged 7.2 kms per kilowatt hour (30 kWh battery, so a notional range of 210 kilometres, though in practice this was closer to 170 kms for us). We charged her at home where we had off street parking and access to a household power point and our own solar panels.

Her second job was to take us to Sydney in June. Being a city girl, a road trip was a bit of a stretch for a Leaf like Evie, but we quickly found that, as long as we were prepared to take it easy and enjoy the trip, the journey with Evie was a treat.

Icy start.
A cold morning in Campbelltown, Tasmania

We stayed in a small B&B in Campbelltown, Tasmania, to break our journey to Devonport where we caught the ferry. This had to be done because the distance between the fast chargers in Hobart and Launceston was greater than Evie’s range, so she needed a slow (overnight) charge somewhere along the way. On our return, this will not be a problem because Campbelltown now has its own fast charger.

Tesla has a network of chargers across Australia.
Making friends with a Tesla, Devonport, Tasmania

A fast charger will recharge her batteries from low to full in 20-30 minutes. An overnight charge on a domestic power point (10 amp) will take about 12 hours.

Charging an electric car from a household power point. Not fast, but you charge while you sleep.
Leisurely overnight charge at a guesthouse in Tasmania

In Melbourne we charged up in Coburg and headed North. Like Tasmania, Victoria does not have a well developed fast charging network yet (and it was very frustrating driving past countless petrol stations along the way to the next fast charger … When are we going to grasp the future?).

Using the app “Plugshare”, we plotted our trip based on available charging stations. In Victoria we stopped at Seymour Park (which had a 15 amp plug, effectively almost twice as fast as a 10 amp plug) and then at a fast charger in Euroa. The Seymour Park stop was for three hours, which allowed us to do a great walk along the Goulburn river while waiting … an EV gets you fit as well!

Travelling at speed is a big drain on the battery, and we found our optimum cruising speed with Evie turns out to be between 85 to 95 kph. At that speed we could achieve a theoretical 150 km range comfortably. Given the slower travel speed, if an alternative route was available we would always choose it over the freeway – and fortunately, the old Melbourne to Sydney road is still running close by for much of the trip. It winds its way through the countryside and it is a pleasant, quiet and comfortable alternative road to use.

After spending the night in Wangaratta we headed off into NSW via Albury. Once in New South Wales we were pleased to find that the NRMA has had the foresight to build a network of fast chargers to compliment the commercial chargers already available. As a result, plotting a route for an electric vehicle of Evie’s range all the way to Sydney is easily done. We stopped at Yass for the night, ready to head into our destination the next day after an overnight slow charge.

NRMA charger at Gundagai. Free to NRMA members.
The NRMA thinking about the future and installing fast chargers across the country

On average we were charging Evie up three times a day to allow for contingencies. Just as well, actually, because we had a minor drama at Tarcutta where a fast charger was not working properly and we could not charge up at all … so we had to drive relatively slowly to the dog on the tuckerbox (Gundagai) for our next charge.

While frequent fast charges are not a problem, doing four of them in one day, combined with fast driving at 110, almost sent the temperature of our batteries into the red zone (there is a temperature gauge for the batteries on the dashboard), so I learned to enjoy the slower pace the car is more comfortable with.

Entering Sydney, Evie came into her own and it was a pleasant drive through the suburban highways from the South up to Curl Curl. By the time we reached our destination she had reached 6.9 kms per kWh, nearly the same result as suburban driving around Hobart. It cost us just over $20 for energy for the entire trip (charging overnight at motels is included in the tariff, and NRMA fast chargers are free at the moment).

Living and driving around Curl Curl for three months, we have enjoyed having Evie there when we need her. In suburban Sydney she is now achieving 7.6 km per kWh and we charge her up during the day, at home, taking advantage of home solar to get free energy from the sun. We charge up about once a fortnight. Best of all, it is really satisfying to know we are travelling in Evie without contributing anything towards global warming.

The Nissan Leaf has five seats and a capacious boot.
Job done, Evie gets back to her normal routine, shopping at the local market.

Our shopping centre has given six priority spaces to electric vehicles (Stocklands, Balgowlah), so it is always easy to get a park there, and if we are going any distance (over 100 kms) there is always a fast charger somewhere along the way for a top up if necessary.

In summary, a 30kWh Leaf is an ideal runabout for everyday suburban driving. It is easy to drive and has more than enough energy for a full day of commuting. Being 100% electric, the mechanics are simple and reliable. Nissan also produce a small electric van which can come configured with five or seven “fold away” seats. These are also imported by The Good Car Co at a good price. Although second hand, these cars look and feel like new, and will easily pay for themselves in fuel savings over their life. If you must have more range, the newer Leaf models they import have 40kWh and 62kWh batteries which match petrol car ranges, but at an extra price.

The Good Car Co are a pleasure to deal with. Anthony, Anton and Sam are passionate about transitioning away from carbon based transport and they have worked out a successful business model that everyone (including the planet) benefits from.

Robert and Di are leaders in climate activism in Tasmania. They volunteer with Bicycle Network Tasmania and Coast Watchers and are setting up Australia’s first community owned electric vehicle carshare for an apartment block in Hobart. 

The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy, or join us at our next EV webinar, where Anthony and Anton will be our guest speakers.

It was one of those lightbulb moments. Ursula Hogben, founding member of Zero Emissions Sydney North (ZESN) was filling up her car at the local petrol station when, chatting to her kids, she said, ‘it’ll seem really strange to you in the future that we all put petrol in our cars and all drove around burning fossil fuels.’ Her son’s reply pulled her up short.

“Mummy, it seems really strange now. Why wouldn’t you just have a battery and fill the battery up from the sun?”

Yes. Of course. Why wouldn’t you? It was the starting point for the next Zero Emissions Sydney North program, Zero Emissions Vehicles.

Video conference + Q&A, Wednesday 11 November 7 pm to 8 pm, EV Essentials + Affordable EVs. Special guests: Anton and Anthony from the Good Car Co. Book your free ticket here: https://events.humanitix.com/accelerate-wed-11-nov

“If you’re trying to make a difference it feels really incongruous to then be filling your car up with fossil fuels each week and emitting greenhouse gases as you drive around,’ says Ursula. “We want to help people move away from fossil fuels and be part of industry level change. Supporting active transport, E bikes and EVs gives everyone low emissions choices.”

Electric cars — EVs, as they’re known in the business — are the exception in Australia, but that’s changing as manufacturers and consumers rush to catch-up with the worldwide shift to low-emissions transport. Elon Musk’s high performance Tesla has made electric cars desirable, and now other manufacturers, along with government incentives in some countries, are making them affordable. But what’s available? How do they work? Where do you get them? What do they cost?

ZESN’s Electric Transport working group has been doing the research and finding out answers to these and many more questions. Next week, Ursula will host the first of ZESN’s regular events to share what they have learnt. Accelerating your transition covers why people are buying EVs, how EVs perform, the financial savings (and the environmental benefits), and features guest speakers who will be more than happy to answer questions.

“We want to help make EVs more accessible. We looked at options and we’re glad to partner with Good Car Co a Tasmanian-based company pioneering the import of low mileage, reasonably priced (from $19,000!) second hand electric cars with a guarantee and user support. We’ve also done a research review of Councils installing EV chargers to help people who can’t charge at home.  We’re very excited that Mosman Council is installing an ultra-fast charger soon!”

If you’re even slightly curious about electric cars, don’t miss Accelerating your transition. Our events are informal with plenty of time for questions, and Covid-safe online for the moment, so you can join the conversation from home. EV owners will be there to share their stories, and we’ll be taking registrations from interested parties so we can make a Good Car Company bulk buy a reality.

Maybe you’ll be driving an electric car sooner than you think.

Tickets for Accelerating your transition are FREE but limited so please register soon!

Video conference + Q&A, Wednesday 11 November 6 pm to 7 pm, EV Essentials + Affordable EVs. Book your free ticket here: https://events.humanitix.com/accelerate-wed-11-nov

**STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS** **STOP PRESS**

Since publishing this post, we’ve been able to confirm three electric cars and four electric bicycles will be at our first stall at Mosman Arts and Crafts Market on Saturday October 3.  Come and see the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona (from 9.30am) and the Tesla (from 12.30pm) and chat to the owners about the driving experience.

For the curious, young and old, there will be hands-on exhibits, like a pool pump which could save you $100s of dollars, and a photovoltaic panel, converting the sun into power in real time. Plus have you seen the Tesla PowerWall battery in action? We’ve got an app for that, and you’re invited to come and play.

We’ll be there from 8am till 3pm, with information on ways to reduce your emissions ranging from rooftop solar to electric bikes to home efficiency tips. If you’re in the area, please drop by and say hello.

Many thanks to Mosman Council for their support, and don’t forget to sample the food, have a good coffee and browse the beautiful, hand-crafted jewellery, clothes and other treasures while you’re there.

Ursula recently attended a webinar hosted by RenewEnergy featuring two EV enthusiasts. Turns out EVs are good for towing, great for work, and light on maintenance. Read on…

David Cann and Bryce Gaton answered questions at RenewEconomy’s EV webinar on 18 May 2020. 

David Cann is a member of the Adelaide Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) and a founder of the Nissan LEAF Owners Australia and the Hyundai Ioniq and Kona Enthusiasts Facebook groups. 

David Cann has owned three EVs. His first EV was a second hand Nissan LEAF, purchased in 2015 as a spare car and shopping runabout. He didn’t realise it would become the only car he and his wife would use for the next 4 years. They haven’t used petrol cars since!

On long trips David charges his EV overnight where he’s staying using a standard power point. He’s never been charged for it, although he does like to leave a bottle of wine or some beer at AirBnBs to say thank you 🙂

David has driven his EV from Darwin to Adelaide and Sydney to Cradle Mountain. He’s been able to charge at hotels, caravan parks, even AirBnBs when on long trips, often using a standard power point and charging his EV overnight. He always offers to pay extra for the electricity, and has never been charged for it (other than at commercial fast chargers), although he does like to leave a bottle of wine or some beer at AirBnBs to say thank you 🙂

Bryce Gaton is editor of the AEVA newsletter and a writer for RenewEconomy and The Driven specialising in electric vehicles. Bryce has owned four EVs. His first was a conversion, which he did himself. The second was a Nissan Leaf, which he loved and kept until he decided that he needed a battery with more range. The third was a Berlingo van conversion, which he sold last month to a mechanic who wants to practice conversion work on a classic car. Bryce is now very happy with his fourth, a Kona.

How will I charge? 

Single phase at home is fine to charge most vehicles, overnight. A DC charger is good for a fast charge while out and about including on a road trip. Three phase power may be nice to have but it is not necessary for standard drivers to have this at home. Most people do not need a fast charger at home and are fine with charging overnight at home (or their accommodation) most of the time, with the occasional use of fast chargers when out and about including on long trips.

Do shopping centres with charging stations cater for all types of EVs? 

Yes but you will need leads and maybe an adaptor if you drive an older Type 1 socket EV.

What about servicing? 

One of the major differences of owning an EV is far less servicing time and cost including because there is no internal combustion engine to need servicing. The most regular task is to have the wheels rebalanced. Brakes last well due to the cars’ regenerative braking technology. David’s Hyundai Ionic has done over 20,000 kilometers but, apart from annual services and inspections has ‘never had spanner on it’. Likewise, his Tesla Model 3 has done over 10,000 km, and has not needed any servicing or repairs.

Should I buy a second hand EV? 

The good thing about second hand EVs is there are few moving parts to break. A key issue is battery range, but if you do not drive far each day, driving in the day and charging at night may work very well, even with an older EV.

Can I use an EV for towing? 

The Hyundai Kona can tow and many people add tow bars to them, which  increases the cars flexibility and use. 

What about an EV as a work vehicle?  

The more driving you do, the more money you are likely to save on petrol and servicing, which means EVs make good sense for businesses who do considerable driving. If we had more EV utes and vans in Australia, we’d see much more take up by business.

How can we encourage more EV transport in Australia? 

New Zealand and other countries have far more EVs than Australia, per capita. This is because: (i) other countries have removed disincentives to buying an EV, such as a luxury car tax, (ii) other countries have added incentives to buy EVs based on fuel economy measures and lower emissions, and (iii) other countries have net zero emissions targets and charge a congestion charge for polluting vehicles.

How do I find out more?

The Australian Electric Vehicle Association has put together a great fact sheet comparing range, battery size, cost and tow rating for all EVs currently in Australia. https://www.aeva.asn.au/files/230/ Meanwhile, Zero Emissions Sydney North has its own EV working group and we welcome volunteers. To find out more, get in touch: http://www.zerosydneynorth.org/join-us/

My first car was an electric blue Citroen Dyane called Hermione. She had a 602cc engine and, with a following wind, could almost get up to the speed limit on the motorway. She sipped petrol but struggled with hills. Hermione went to the great scrapyard in the sky many years ago and now, like so many of us, I drive a big wagon which guzzles the gas and gets the family from A to B. I’d love to switch to a renewable energy option. I’ve looked enviously at my friend’s shiny new Tesla, but I always thought that an electric vehicle was out of my price range. 

Turns out there might be another way.

The Good Car Company is a start-up founded by three sustainability entrepreneurs, Anthony Broese van Groenou, Anton Vikstrom and Sam Whitehead, who are passionate about decarbonising transport.

You don’t see many electric cars around Australia, but there are probably more than you realise, especially when you look past the luxury models such as the Tesla and the Rivian. Outside Australia, many of the big manufacturers are offering electric and hybrid models, and there is a growing market for second hand electric cars. The great thing about buying second hand electric is that there are very few parts to go wrong: compared to a petrol engine, an EV is cheap and easy to maintain and ages with grace. Which is why the Good Car Company is collaborating with communities around Australia to deliver Electric Vehicle Bulk-Buy’s.

 If you’ve never considered an EV, here are some of the benefits:

  • Lower fuel costs, less maintenance and lower cost of life

  • Zero particulates and no fumes on cold mornings

  • Avoid service stations, holiday price gouging & oil wars

  • Great driving experience, fully automatic with hill start assist.

They are now offering 2017-19 40kWh Nissan Leaf, 2015-17 30kWh Nissan Leaf and 2014-17 24kWh Nissan Leaf. All vehicles are offered below normal rates, with savings in shipping and compliance, passed onto to you. They are also passing through any savings achieved at auction to make getting an EV that much easier. This offer includes all of their standard upgrades including Japanese to English head-unit (stereo and controls), dash instruments and an Australian 10A portable charging cable, full support and warranty.

The bulk-buy of affordable electric vehicles will help drive a step change in the transformation of transport to a low carbon emission future.

I’m determined that Hermione #2 will be electric.

Electric vehicles. They’re expensive and we don’t have the infrastructure. Right?

Wrong.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are coming down in price, and they’re much cheaper to run than petrol cars. They don’t need special equipment to charge and, as a bi-directional mobile battery, they could play a key role in the renewable energy revolution. Which is why Zero Emissions Sydney North has formed a working group to research EVs, looking at the pros and cons, the market, and affordable options for going electric.

In the first in a series of posts about electric vehicles, Ursula Hogben, one of the founding members of Zero Emissions Sydney North, gives us the highlights of a webinar held by the Coalition For Conservation Electric Vehicles and Sustainable Mobility panel on 12 May 2020.

If you’d like to know more, read on. And if you work in the electric vehicle industry or are interested in our EV working group please do get in touch. Continue reading “Reporting on… Electric Vehicles”