13 July 2021

Lessons from a freshly minted electric vehicle owner

| Lottie Twyford
Join the conversation
David Haynes and his family next to electric vehicle in driveway

David Haynes and his family with their new electric vehicle. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Buying an electric vehicle (EV) was always a long-held dream of David Haynes, but never something he’d envisaged doing right now simply because he assumed it would be out of his price range.

But three months ago David and his wife, Sharn, became the proud owners of a secondhand 2016 30kWh Nissan Leaf that only set them back $27,000 including 12 months’ registration and insurance.

Until their purchase, the couple and their two boys, aged four and five, were a one-car family. But, like many, they started to find the juggle between kindergarten and child care drop-offs to different locations, the work commute and various extracurricular afternoon activities was too much to manage with just the one vehicle.

They were motivated to do some research into EVs as they were keen to minimise the environmental impact that owning and driving a second car would entail.

With two cars, the morning and evening rush has become less hectic, and the kids are suitably impressed with their new car, which they’ve nicknamed ‘electric blue’.

David says it has taken a little bit of time to get used to how quiet the Nissan Leaf is, as well as how zippy.

“It’s really smooth and surprisingly fast when it takes off at the lights,” he says.

Man charging an electric vehicle

A bit of planning is required to organise the electric vehicle’s charging schedule. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

One safety feature that comes with the vehicle is a slight beeping noise when reversing to warn pedestrians, simply because it is so quiet.

David says they quickly learned that unlike a traditional petrol vehicle, a little bit of planning is involved, both with its charging and driving schedule.

The EV has a range of 150km when fully charged so the couple generally decide every evening who will be doing the most driving the next day and they take the electric car.

David explains he wouldn’t quite be ready to make the switch to owning two electric cars because with a 150km range, trips to the NSW South Coast to see his parents who live there would likely be out of range, even when the supercharger network is factored in.

READ ALSO Turning a new Leaf in the push to electric cars

This is also because the range is reduced when going uphill or highway driving.

David says initially there was a sense of ‘range anxiety’ about getting caught out somewhere with a flat battery so when he and Sharn started exploring the market, they thought they’d need a car with a bigger battery.

But this comes at a cost and after talking through their actual needs with the team at Ion DNA electric vehicle showroom in Canberra, they decided the extra range wasn’t required because the new car would be used as their main run-around town car, and should the need arise, they still have their older petrol car for any long trips.

“I haven’t yet had to worry too much about driving to conserve power as much as possible,” says David.

“We are pretty conservative with how we drive it, and generally don’t like to see the range get too close to the bottom.”

David Haynes driving Nissan Leaf electric vehicle

David Haynes feels right at home in his Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

In terms of its charging schedule, David and Sharn charge the 30 kWh battery to about 80-90 per cent so its health is maintained.

“It’s a bit like with your phone – if you leave it on charge all the time, you simply degrade the battery quality,” he says.

“So we generally plug it in to charge for around four or five hours in the evening, depending on how much driving has happened that day.”

The Nissan Leaf model they own also has a built-in charging timer which means you simply set a routine charging schedule on particular evenings of the week and then plug it in and let it go.

READ ALSO The EVs you can buy right now and what they’ll cost you

In terms of an impact on electricity bills, it’s been minimal and more than offset by the reduction in petrol costs. They also haven’t yet needed rapid or fast chargers, although they are prepared.

Originally, David and Sharn found that there really wasn’t a huge secondhand electric vehicle market in Canberra, and most of the dealers they approached didn’t know a huge amount about things such as the health of the battery.

With free registration now on offer from the ACT Government, it’s likely there will be more EVs gracing Canberra’s streets sooner rather than later.

See the full range of Ion DNA’s electric vehicles online.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Is ‘range anxiety’ a new lexicon ? Or have I got that base over apex.
Anyway , whatever …. ‘range anxiety’ , It’s certainly starting to come into everyday use.

Nissan Leaf ? Really.
A small amount of research will show that these are not a well designed EV’s. There are much better EV’s out there.

Graham Franklin-Browne2:44 pm 16 Jul 21

We have owned a 2012 kwh Nissan Leaf since 2015 and it is still a fantastic commuter around Queanbeyan and Canberra. We have recently purchased a Tesla 3 long range and will never buy another fossil fueled vehicle.

Capital Retro3:19 pm 16 Jul 21

There is a lot of aluminum and lithium in a Tesla. Doesn’t that worry you?

Hi Acton, very sorry to hear that your take-aways from the article we all reasons not to consider buying an EV. In this case, just to clarify:
– The actual cost of this vehicle was under $24,000.00. The addition of optional extras and government/on-road charges was a factor in the final price. As with any vehicle.
– In winter, the range of an EV does reduce slightly. Like humans, batteries don’t especially like the cold.
– Its important to note that the amount of fuel in the tank of a petrol or diesel vehicle is reduced when travelling uphill or highway driving. EV’s are no different.
– EV’s offer the flexible for owners to conveniently charge at home over a longer period or in as little as 15 minutes depending on the type of charger being used.
– Whats the point? EV’s are fun to drive, go well and are zero-emissions in the ACT. Save you money and importantly lessen your footprint. If you drive 50kms a day why have a vehicle with 500km of range?

David and Sharn have been very smart in that they have bought a vehicle that suits their needs and not approached the prospect of going electric with the hard thought that that they will need to drive 1000 km’s per day in that car. Notably, they are helping to reduce the 60% of emissions attributed to vehicle transport in the ACT. And, they are going that one step further, “recycling” by actually choosing a used EV.

What a lot of spin to disguise the obvious drawbacks of an EV. High cost, limited range, lengthy battery recharge times, inefficiency and inconvenience. An EV only suits those with no kids, no family, no interstate holidays and plenty of time to wait the several hours while their battery is being recharged, every 150-300km.

4 reasons from the article why not to get an EV:

– a secondhand 2016 30kWh Nissan Leaf that set them back $27,000
– has a range of 150km when fully charged
– the range is reduced when going uphill or highway driving
– plug it in to charge for around four or five hours

Those Nissan Leafs (the particular model in this article) don’t have a cooling system, that is a radiator, whereas Teslas and other EVs do. On a 40 deg summer day in Canberra, see how well it does

Capital Retro12:11 pm 13 Jul 21

Yeah, only has a 150km range but ““It’s really smooth and surprisingly fast when it takes off at the lights,” he says.

What’s the point?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.