The pictures tell the story. In just a year, Zero Emissions Sydney North has held more than 20 Solar My House parties and webinars, two Electric Vehicle webinars and a Solar Open House day. Our volunteers have attended Mosman markets, delivered flyers and hosted parties. After lengthy research, we have partnered with two businesses with renewable energy at their core.
We’ve built a core group of volunteers and found friends and colleagues across local government and not-for-profit organisations. We’ve won two grants and helped people put more than $250,000 worth of solar panels on houses in the Northern region of Sydney. This is roughly equivalent to planting nearly 5000 trees, or saving of nearly 2 million kilometres of fossil-fuelled driving!
All that remains is to say thank you to all the brilliant people and organisations who have walked alongside, including:
Our Advisory Team and all the individuals and businesses who have said ‘yes, sure, what can I do?’ And last but definitely not least, a heartfelt thanks to all our amazing volunteers, many of whom star in the video.
We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers working across the Northern Beaches and the North Shore. We operate as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.
“What happens if my electric 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. The car gives realtime updates on your remaining mileage, and you can use various apps to plan your route. Australia has a growing network of fast chargers. Plus in an emergency, unlike a petrol car, you can recharge at any standard powerpoint.
Electric cars aren’t going to fix climate change on their own but they are an important part of a zero emissions future. They’re also really smart pieces of technology. There’s something very exciting about a car which is virtually silent, needs little maintenance and runs on sunshine. If you join our community bulk-buy 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.
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 Nissan 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.
We stayed in a small B&B in Campbelltown, Tasmania, to break our journey to Devonport where we caught the ferry. This was because the distance between 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.
A fast charger will recharge a Nissan Leaf from low to full in 20-30 minutes. An overnight charge on a domestic power point (10 amp) will take about 12 hours.
In Melbourne we charged up in Coburg and headed North. Like Tasmania, Victoria does not have a well developed fast charging network yet. 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?.
How to charge
Using the app “Plugshare”, we plotted our trip based on available charging stations. In Victoria we stopped at Seymour Park and then at a fast charger in Euroa. The Seymour Park stop was for three hours, and we had 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. 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 a network of fast chargers to compliment commercial chargers already available. Plotting a route for an electric vehicle of a Nissan Leaf range all the way to Sydney is easily done. We stopped at Yass, ready to head into our destination the next day after an overnight slow charge.
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.
Slowly does it
While frequent fast charges are not a problem, doing four of them in one day sent the temperature of our batteries into the red zone. 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 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 was 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 achieving 7.6 km per kWh. 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 a Nissan Leaf without contributing anything towards global warming.
Our shopping centre has six priority spaces for electric vehicles (Stocklands, Balgowlah), so it is always easy to get a park. If we are going over 100km there is always a fast charger somewhere along the way.
Nissan Leaf: the verdict
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. They will easily pay for themselves in fuel savings over their life.
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. Their next big project is 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.
“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 in Australia
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!”
Webinar coming up
If you’re even slightly curious affordable 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.
My first car was an electric blue Citroen Dyane. I called her 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. Luxury models, such as the Tesla and the Rivian, get most of the attention here. Outside Australia, however, many of the big manufacturers — Hyundai, Daihatsu, BMW, Nissan, Mini, –are offering electric and hybrid models. Better still, 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 electric car 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 – aka ‘EV’ – Bulk-Buy’s.
Why go electric?
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. The Good Car Company offers all vehicles below normal rates, with savings in shipping and compliance, passed onto to you. And they also pass through any savings achieved at auction to make getting an EV that much easier. This offer includes standard upgrades including Japanese to English head-unit (stereo and controls), dash instruments and an Australian charging cable. Plus, of course, full support and warranty.
The bulk-buy of affordable electric cars will help the transformation of transport to a low carbon emission future.
Electric vehicles. They’re expensive and we don’t have the infrastructure. Right?
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.