10 things I learned from owning an electric vehicle

Joanna Davis is Senior Lifestyle Editor for Stuff.

REVIEW: I wasn’t exactly an early adopter of electric vehicles, and when I bought my Nissan Leaf four years ago, there were a lot of things I didn’t know.

So, as the number of EV drivers grows, let me give you a little nudge to speed up that steep learning curve.

More than 14,000 electric vehicles have been registered this year, almost double the registrations of 2021, bringing the total number of electric vehicles on the road to 46,000.

Range anxiety is real

Range anxiety is one thing but it is fading.

My Leaf 24kWh is not really top of the range for electric vehicles. With a range of around 130km (when I first bought it) I would never consider driving from my home in Nelson to Christchurch – too many hills, too many open roads, not enough fast chargers .

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But at the beginning of its possession, I was even afraid to go back and forth to Motueka (about 94km) for fear of running out of electrons.

Now I don’t think about getting in the car with only 20 km on the clock and driving around town and back (admittedly, I live nearby).

It’s probably the 12V battery.

If your car won’t start, it’s probably the 12V battery – that pretty standard looking lead acid battery under the hood. This has never happened to me, but I’ve read enough around Facebook EV groups to know this is the answer to follow.

I also learned that it is the 12V battery that powers the seat heaters. Apparently it would be a dangerous situation for your back to be fried by a 350V battery.

The turtle is an ubiquitous threat, but I haven't encountered one yet.

Jenny Evans/Getty Images

The turtle is an ubiquitous threat, but I haven’t encountered one yet.

Turtles in the wild are rare

The tortoise may or may not have originated in Japan, but every leaf has one.

When the battery is nearly dead, the car warns and warns, then goes into turtle mode, giving you a few 100 yards to crawl around and hopefully get the car to safety before it stops. Some drivers report riding two to three miles on the flat.

Even though my range anxiety subsided and I took a few chances with distance and load, I didn’t experience turtle mode. I have an AA membership though, just in case.

The Load Label Matters, Part A

If you’re going to walk away from the car while it’s charging on a fast charger – maybe to spend the money you’re saving on gas at the supermarket, warehouse, or Kmart (ahem, guilty), that’s is a good way to put your phone number in the windshield.

You can also save your information in the Plugshare app, but a lot of people don’t seem to use it.

It’s so frustrating to turn to a charger while in use and have no way of knowing if the other car is going to be there for another hour or 10 minutes.

If you leave your charging car unattended, as one punter at Pak N Save Kilbirnie did last week, you risk having nasty notes left on your windscreen and your photo posted on the internet (public Facebook page of Wellington Vic Deals, in this case).

This offender, in a Hyundai Ioniq vehicle, left his car on a charger (locked) from 9:30 a.m. for much of the day. Someone deflated their tires. Such vigilante justice strikes me as overkill—perhaps more illegal, certainly dangerous—but unattended vehicles are a frustration.

The Load Label Matters Part B

If you only need 80% charge and there are people waiting, you should only charge to 80%. The last 20% take years. It’s not nice.

Personally, I will also end charging early (unless absolutely necessary for me to charge) at the request of anyone with a young child in the car. I had young children, and they are savages: it is not fair to keep their people waiting.

Charging can be as simple as that.


Charging can be as simple as that.

Charging can be low-tech

You can have a “smart EV charging solution” or you can plug a charger into a standard three-prong outlet overnight and call it done.

Some people sign up for special electric vehicle plans with their power company, or at least opt ​​for a plan with low-cost power at a certain time of day. Some of us don’t care.

You can also pay to install a faster wall charger inside your garage, or outside with protection.

The light on the right causes a lot of confusion.


The light on the right causes a lot of confusion.

There are strange warning lights

The yellow light above apparently indicates that the front impact sensor is not working properly, most often due to sunburn or a dirty windshield.

I’ve seen this query posted multiple times in EV Facebook groups.

Other suggestions of its significance include that “it’s the equivalent of a Hawaiian missile alert”, “an indicator that you have activated the Forward Deflector Shield for a Klingon Assault Ship in the Romulan Neutral Zone”, or maybe a Tinder notification: “Your car is looking for romance”.

You will pay less for maintenance

Tires are the main expense I encountered.

Of course, your car still needs a WOF. If the mechanic tells you the oil is leaking, you should laugh. It’s standard ICE (internal combustion engine) mechanical humor.

I only freaked out for a millisecond the first time I heard it.

Once I left it for a WOF check and later picked it up where they had parked it – in a public lot across the street – only to find it still running. Easy to do. It’s silent, of course, and only beeps you briefly if you go out with the “engine running”.

Some people really hate electric vehicles

You will meet people, hardcore fans of ICE cars, who will not entertain the existence of electric vehicles at all. They’ll tell you they’re slow, wasteful and/or a nuisance to the environment.

My stepfather, who raced Mustangs in his day and owned many classic cars, won’t set foot in mine. He simply refuses.

#learned #owning #electric #vehicle

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