I’ve been driving an EV for over 12 months; this is what I have learned
The journey of an EV driver
In partnership with Nissan Australia
By Jenny Ringland
When I had the opportunity to become a Nissan Australia sustainability ambassador, driving its EV offering, the hatchback LEAF+ I said yes without any research or understanding of the logistics of driving an EV. I just said yes, because I am 100 per cent in favour of being an early adopter on the sustainability journey. I said goodbye to my seven seater, diesel SUV and embraced the EV life. What has unfolded has been a steeper learning curve than I imagined, a shift in lifestyle, dozens of conversations with inquisitive strangers and a slightly smug feeling that my ride is emissions free.
Last month I had the opportunity to be one of the first people in Australia to drive Nissan’s new SUV EV the Ariya, which is officially arriving (sometime soon). It’s spacious, sporty and fancy and will appeal to a new market of EV drivers. It made me reflect on my own EV journey so far.
CHARGING YOUR EV TAKES TIME
Think of charging your EV like charging your phone, it takes time. The most convenient way to charge is if you have an accessible powerpoint at home. However this is also the slowest way. It can take 24 hours or more to fully charge your car depending on the size of the battery. Then there are fast chargers, which you can either install at home or locate via a charging app like Chargefox. There are also public rapid chargers, which it turns out aren’t compatible with lower battery capacity vehicles including the LEAF.
PUBLIC CHARGING ISN’T FREE
Rather naively I assumed the publicly available charging stations you see in car parks are free. The first time I plugged into a public outlet was at our local swimming pool where my kids do swimming lessons. We were all very excited to park in the always vacant EV dedicated parking spots next to the entrance. When we couldn’t immediately connect the charging cord to the charging station, I realised there was an app to download and credit card details to enter before we could plug in. The good news is though it’s only a couple of dollars each time, and the app also helps you locate the nearest charging station when you are traveling.
STRANGERS STOPPED TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT DRIVING AN EV
When I first started driving an EV strangers would stop me in the street to ask me questions like: How do I charge it (a combination of public charging stations and outside my house when I get a park out the front!) to how far I drive (the furthest I have traveled is to Mudgee, which is 273km away, and my EV has theoretical limit of 380km.
EV DRIVERS HAVE DOUBLED IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS
A year ago, when I first started driving an EV I felt like one of the few early adopters and subsequently had many more inquisitive questions from strangers. But now living in a capital city (Sydney) I don’t feel like the minority anymore and there is data to support it.
According to research based on sales data released in the Electric Vehicle Council’s yearly recap, the number of electric vehicles on Australian roads has almost doubled over the past year, growing from 44,000 at the beginning of 2022 to more than 83,000.
A SMALL CAR IS ALL YOU NEED
I have three kids and a dog, which is why my previous car was a seven-seater SUV. However what I have learned is that our mightie Evie the EV has performed almost every task I asked of it. While it may not take us on a week long camping holiday, it did take us on a week long driving holiday to Tasmania, it fits our luggage for a weekend away, is the perfect size for weekend sport, girls weekends and family catch ups. Any convenience we have forgone with a big car has been superseded by the sheer joy that comes with being emissions free.