Electric vehicle benefits and considerations
There are several things to consider when choosing an electric vehicle.
Advantages of electric vehicles
- Cheaper to run - the cost of charging an EV is equivalent to paying around 30 cents per litre for petrol.*
- Charge up at home - EVs can be charged anywhere there is a power point, just like charging your cellphone. You can wake up to a ‘full tank’ every morning by plugging in at home, and never have to go out of your way to a petrol station again.
- Pollution-free driving - BEVs don’t have a tailpipe and produce no exhaust emissions that cause local air pollution.
- Noise reduction - EVs are quieter than petrol or diesel vehicles.
- 80% reduction in CO2 emissions in New Zealand - this significant reduction in emissions is because 80% of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable sources. There are also many other advantages to using this home-grown energy compared with using imported fossil fuels.
- Fewer lifecycle emissions - even when you take into account raw material extraction, battery manufacture, vehicle manufacture and shipping, BEVs emit 60% fewer climate change emissions over their full life cycle than for petrol vehicles.
- More efficient - EVs can convert well over 90% of energy from their batteries into moving the car. This compares to 20% - 30% energy conversion for a petrol or diesel vehicle.
In 2015, EECA commissioned a lifecycle analysis of the environmental impact of EVs compared to internal combustion engine vehicles (petrol and diesel). The report confirmed EVs are better for the New Zealand environment than petrol or diesel powered vehicles, across the lifecycle of the vehicle as well as in use.
* Estimate based on a residential off-peak charge rate, and will vary.
Challenges of electric vehicles
- Price – new EVs tend to cost more to buy than equivalent conventional cars, but much lower running costs will help offset the initial higher price tag. Used import electric cars can compare well with the price of equivalent used petrol or diesel vehicles.
- Range - most EVs don’t travel as far on a full-charge as petrol or diesel vehicles travel on a full tank. However, the average daily travel by car in New Zealand is less than 29 km – easily within the range of EVs, and 90% of all journeys are under 90 km. As battery and vehicle technology improves, and fast charging stations become commonplace, range will become less of an issue. If you are concerned about range, a plug-in hybrid EV may be a better option for you, but you won’t get the significant reduction in maintenance cost that you will for a purely electric vehicle.
- Battery re-use and recycling - if an EV battery reaches the end of its vehicle life, it may still have a useful second life, for example storing electricity from solar PV panels. EV manufacturers already have recycling programmes in place. Members of the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand have committed to a code of practice to have suitable systems in place for the use, capture, return, refurbishment, reuse, recycling or disposal of EV and hybrid batteries, with the aim of no batteries ending up in landfills.