Friday, March 24, 2017

Living with a Leaf

Living with a Leaf
Great piece on Linkedin from one of South Africa's leading electric car advocates Carel SnymanCarel started driving the all-electric Nissan Leaf in October 2014 and in this article he reports back on his experience during the first 28 months.

Carel explains that he uses his Leaf for his daily 28km commute and all his business trips. He drives roughly 1,500km per month. It's been mentioned before on this blog that the cost of charging an electric vehicle is roughly a fifth of what it'd cost to go the same distance in an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. Carel has managed even better returns over the 42,000km in his Leaf.

Energy (electricity) cost per month is R19,35 for every 100km (compared to R117 for every 100km for a similar petrol car[1]) or R290 per month (compared to R1755 per month for petrol). 

He also compares the overall cost including purchase price between his Leaf and an equivalent sized ICE vehicle. Despite costing maybe R100,000 more to purchase, the savings in fuel has bought the price per km down to almost the same as an ICE vehicle. This is after only two years and four months. After five years the electric Leaf will have saved the owner R115,000. That figure as far as I see doesn't take into account the saving on maintenance and service costs. Carel takes his Leaf for a free Nissan check up every 15,000km and so far (after 42,000km) there have been no costs in maintenance. As the vehicle uses regenerative braking there is virtually no wear on the brakes.

Interestingly he finds that 90-100km is the most economical cruising speed on the freeway in the Leaf. That is the same speed I stay at on my commute to work, I find my Kia Rio 1.2 uses considerably less fuel at that pace than if I was doing 120km.

When motorists realise just how much they can save in fuel costs with an electric vehicle is when I believe demand and sales will really take off. When your neighbour or work colleague tells you he's paying R400 a month on electricity to charge his vehicle while you're spending R2,000 on petrol every month, you're going to take notice. As the price of electric cars decreases and they get down to around the same price as comparative ICE vehicles, then the potential saving in fuel costs will be even more tempting for the buyer. Add to that not having to fork out for an expensive service every 15,000km or so and the savings from purchasing an electric car appear even more appetising.

Like I have mentioned in this blog before, Carel also stresses the need for charging infrastructure.
EV users should charge whenever they park at a destination – so all destinations (places of work, shopping, services, meetings and home should have a charge point to top-up while the car is parked
This is exactly what is needed. Unlike ICE vehicles that you have to fill up with fuel at a petrol station, an electric car can charge anywhere there's electricity. You'll charge wherever you park and while you're at work or doing shopping or eating in a restaurant your electric car will be topping up it's battery. Business owners should see the offering of charge points for their customers as a way of attracting EV owners to use their establishment, similar to the way they offer wifi to customers at the moment.

Carel also explains how the use of solar energy can provide us with a truly clean, renewable and cheap energy source for our transport system. Please go and read the full article here.

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