With three boys aged 10 and under, Gordon resident Cate Cool is always looking for activities to get the family out of the house.
While searching on Eventbrite, she stumbled across what is billed as a “community celebration of electrified transport in Canberra”. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Hosted by the ACT branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) and sponsored by the ACT Government, the ‘Zero Emissions EVenture’ on Sunday, 24 April, offers Canberrans the chance to take a journey around Canberra using nothing but the power of electricity.
As individuals or in teams of four, participants will transverse a route past the National Library, Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House and parts of North Canberra using a range of electric transport options including scooters, cars, boats, buses and, to top it all off, light rail.
“We’re always looking for these kinds of activities, and this one happens to be all about EVs and promoting things we can do for the environment,” Cate says.
Cate’s family is among the growing number in the capital making the switch to an electric vehicle. Her family’s new EV, the Chinese-built BYD Atto 3 SUV, is expected to arrive in July.
Their garage currently houses a petrol Mitsubishi Outlander, which they bought new when the first baby arrived, and a Mitsubishi Grandis when their family grew to five.
The family had been weighing the pros and cons of going electric and investigating their options before biting the BYD bullet. In the end, it came down to a combination of climate and cost.
“Having children always makes you think about their future. Doing what we can to improve their prospects is a big motivator for us.”
The family might live in Tuggeranong, but Cate works in Cook in Canberra’s north and commutes 40 to 50 km every day.
“We don’t do a lot of family trips, so we were thinking about getting a smaller car,” she says.
Then earlier this year, the price of petrol started heading for the stratosphere and the yawning chasm between an EV’s running costs and those of a fossil-fuel-powered car grew even bigger.
The family wanted something green, cheap and practical, and initially, they turned to Canberra’s favourite EV, the Tesla Model 3.
“But after a couple of test drives, we just didn’t think it was cut out for the lifestyle of three boys and a dog.”
The $60,000 jump up to the bigger Model X SUV was too much for the Cool family, so it was onto the second best seller and cheapest EV currently on sale in Australia, the MG ZS EV. But while the sticker price of $42,990 was compelling, the strictly around-town range of 263 km wasn’t.
“The kilometres were too low for us,” Cate says. “Our in-laws live at the coast about 240 km away and we want to be able to make that comfortably, so we can charge it there and get back.”
At the end of the day, the Cool family has settled on a newcomer to the Australian EV market that offers more range.
BYD, or ‘Build Your Dreams’, launched the Atto 3 earlier this year. Not only is it the second cheapest EV in Australia, but the Chinese production lines also seem unaffected by the supply issues currently plaguing the global car industry. Australian deliveries are promised as early as July.
Two variants offer either 320 or 420 kilometres of range. The Atto 3 also comes with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Cate says one boy, in particular, is disappointed it’s not a Tesla, but on the whole, everyone is “very excited”.
“We’re a household of boys who love gadgets. I’m sure they’re going to be very excited to get into the new BYD. Looking at the videos online, there are so many things it can do compared to our 10-year-old car.”
She said the range of incentives available in the ACT is helping to foot the bill. These include no stamp duty, free registration for two years, and an interest-free loan of $15,000. Part of the loan will also cover the cost of installing a charge point in their garage which will draw power from their existing solar panels.
The Outlander will stay on and continue to perform trailer duties for the family, while the BYD will fill the A to B role of the Grandis.
The upcoming EVenture might not feature an appearance by BYD, but it will feature three different Tesla models, two Hyundai Ioniq models, a Hyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf, Kia Niro, BMW i4, Toyota Prius Prime and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Every entrant will be able to ride in two different models during their journey.
Register for the Zero-Emission EVenture by Tuesday, 19 April on Eventbrite.