EV owners share the love
People may be kinder to their family and wider community after buying an electric vehicle (EV).
It’s an unexpected result from the latest Flip the Fleet survey which asked EV owners how their transport habits have changed since buying an EV.
Nearly two thirds (62%) of the 474 EV owners who responded to the survey reported that their transport habits either hadn’t changed, or had only changed a little, since buying an EV.
“That shows just how easily EVs fit into most families’ lives. For the majority of families EVs have the range they need for everyday use,” said Megan Reynolds, an EV owner from Christchurch.
“But more than just doing their job, EVs also bring family and friends closer together as the cheap running costs and enjoyable driving experience mean that I’m more likely to volunteer to do the pick-up and drop off of other people’s kids. EV ownership has made me more likely to help people,” said Reynolds.
A pensioner reported that the one-hour trip to Wellington to visit a new granddaughter used to cost at least $20 in an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car. “Now I visit when I want.” Children of EV owners are also benefitting: “I'm more likely to take my son directly to football, and without grumbling about his inability to arrange a lift or carpooling,” said a busy parent.
Many EV households are effectively running a combination family fleet programme: they keep an old petrol or diesel car as a second car, but shift as much of their family’s driving to their EV so they can save money, save the planet and enjoy the better car.
“The old petrol or diesel car is often a backstop. It gets a spin on occasional long trips or to tow the trailer, but often ends up collecting cobwebs while the family prefers to use the EV for everyday transport,” said Reynolds.
Families with duel EV/ICE car ownership use a team approach. One family said that despite having four drivers, often going different places, sharing two EVs and an ICE, they have become so good at maximising use of the EVs that the ICE is sometimes unused for a week at a time. “We have to plan more who gets the EV and who gets the ICE, depending on who's going further to utilise the EV more,” said one family representative.
Everyone agreed that the EV is a delight to drive. Sometimes it pays to be the early bird: “My wife steals the EV,” joked one respondent.
Some EV owners even want to share beyond their own families. “I have a very different attitude about this car,” said one respondent. “I want the EV to be a communal car for the family living here. Everyone is free to use the EV when I don't need it. Limiting carbon is the aim, so sharing the EV rather than other family members driving their hybrid or petrol cars makes environmental sense.”
“What we need are communal ICEs for use on those occasional long trips or towing the trailer. The ideal would be for more families to have no car at all, but if they need one, for it to be just an EV, and then to borrow the use of an ICE when it's absolutely needed.” This car sharing arrangement is used by some owners like Reynolds who lends her car to friends when she flies out of town. She said “A friend using her EV saves the friend petrol costs and mitigates some of her carbon guilt from the CO2 produced by flying.”
The low cost of EVs allows some owners to go further. One respondent said that EV ownership “sets me free”. Another owner picks up hitchhikers and takes them closer to their destination. Others appreciate the time saved by using the EV access lanes on the Auckland motorway and when in peak traffic they tend to be more chill because the car is not using any fuel when stuck in the queue.
“The survey results showed that EVs are not just changing our mobility, they are also bringing us closer together,” said Reynolds.
Flip the Fleet is a citizen science project that provides scientifically reliable information on the benefits and constraints of electric vehicles in New Zealand. The project is partly funded by the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Participation is free and all New Zealand’s electric vehicle owners can enrol at www.flipthefleet.org.