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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.