Have you ever thought about long distance in an EV and been put off by the complications of charging? To quote Patrick “…[its] no problem thanks to Kiwi hospitality”, we have to ask then; is there really any reason not to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle for cruising around New Zealand? Have a read, you may be pleasantly surprised!
Thank you Patrick for writing this article!
In September 2015, we were offered the chance to relocate an EV from Auckland to Christchurch. The car was a Nissan Leaf and belongs to Blue Cars – a local company supporting the uptake of EVs in New Zealand. Being tourists, we had planned to travel slowly anyway and gladly accepted the offer.
The advantages of driving an EV on a long trip are really tempting: You drive silently. You don’t pollute the environment with exhaust fumes and emissions. You don’t burn any fossil fuels (at least not directly). You have much lower “fuel” costs.
But there are also disadvantages to consider. You can’t travel as far each day. You have to plan your trips precisely around places to charge, paying special attention to mountains passes and hilly regions. You need to be more mindful of your speed and driving style (good habits in any case).
With all of this in mind, we set off from Auckland on our journey. We drove via Coromandel, around East Cape, then on to Gisborne, Napier and Wellington, where we caught the ferry to Picton. We then spent some time in Golden Bay before driving down to Christchurch. From there we crossed Arthur’s Pass to visit the West Coast, before driving back to Christchurch again via Lewis’ Pass… all together 5,000 km.
We must confess that we did face a number of obstacles on our journey, but nothing we couldn’t solve. We crossed a mountain pass with just 4 km remaining (phew!). We once misjudged our range and had to ask a nearby farmhouse if we could charge for an hour (no problem thanks to Kiwi hospitality). One of our charging cables had a problem (it was replaced). We couldn’t charge at a solar-powered hostel (we drove to the holiday park next door).
But overall, for us at least, the advantages clearly outweighed the disadvantages. It was a combination of fun, adventure and being on a meaningful mission. Cruising gently and smoothly through beautiful landscapes was a permanent pleasure. We felt like pioneers, meeting many people interested in our car, answering questions and giving a lot of test drives.
And thanks to many places offering free charging, our running costs for the whole trip were less than $3 per 100 km – a fraction of what we would have paid in petrol!
Our thanks again also to Blue Cars for giving us this opportunity!
By Patrick Neubauer (Germany), January 2016