Subtitle: How not to be a d@%k, when owning and driving an Electric Vehicle.
Warning, these are my opinions, and in some cases may be mine alone. Feel free to weigh in to discussions below, or on the various Facebook EV owners and Nissan Leaf groups. This is a New Zealand site, so some links/comments may be NZ related only.
After a few months of EV ownership, I’ve seen my fair share of EV arguments, zealots, uninformed detractors and manner-less owners who believe they have magical eco-EV rights thrust upon them. I have nearly fallen in to some of these traps myself, and have made a few notes to remember what I should avoid. I hope it is useful to other EV drivers or potential owners. If you want more New Zealand EV and Leaf links, they are listed below.
Charging your EV like a boss
There are a bunch of DC charge stations around, some free, some not. Remember the free ones are a privilege to use as they certainly are not free to install & maintain. Free chargers are put there by Vector, or other big companies, to help improve EV uptake, and obviously improve their brand recognition in the process.
Please remember when charging:
- Don’t complain that there aren’t enough free charge stations, or aren’t enough near you. They are free to use. I’ve even sent a note to Vector to thank them occasionally. I also try to buy something like a coffee from the place that hosts them, but don’t feel you have to. Did I mention they are free?
- Don’t complain about ‘Teslas’ or ‘Leafs’ or some brand/model hogging a charge station. Chargers are for all EV users and people don’t need your typecasting comments about vehicle owners and their wealth or lack of.
- Use the free Plugshare app to show you are filling up, and also put in some comments re estimated wait times, or charger maintenance issues. It helps others know where the busy spots are, helps get charger problems fixed quickly and it helps plugshare (also free) improve.
- Be courteous, and especially so at the free stations. If people are waiting, do you really need to wait to get that last 20% top up? Just top up enough to get you home and move along.
- Don’t be afraid to say “Hi” to other EV owners at the stations. If they seem like an excitable new owner, help them if they have questions. However remember not all EV owners may give as much of a crap as you do about EV ownership, so there is no ‘EV owners right to converse‘ clause in the manual.
- I suggest you leave your contact details if you walk away from your car when charging, on plugshare or dashboard note. It should be ok for people to unplug you when you are charged, and sending a text to let them know is a nice courtesy. I’ve even sent a text to someone to tell them their charging had failed which they appreciated. But hey, don’t even think about unplugging if they are under the time limit and still charging.
- If an ICE vehicle is blocking your special EV park or charging station, keep calm, report them, phone the charging company or whoever, but no need to alert the media. You have to remember that many drivers see the carparks as hardly used (like disabled parks) and grab the opportunity. Wrong, but eventually they will be seen as social outcasts like those non-disabled, disabled parkers.
- Oh, and obey the maximum parking signs. An EV park with a charger is for your charging time only. 30 means 30.
- Finally, don’t EVER plug in to an outlet that you don’t own, or don’t have permission to use, eg at some random person’s house or a services socket in a carpark. Stealing electricity is still theft. Ask first.
The fully Electric Vehicle is debated by many as a great stepping stone away from fossil fuels and towards environmental sustainability. I have a science/engineering background and my own opinions, but remember others may have different thoughts on the subject, and they have a right to.
- Try not to get into angry debates with 4WD V8 owners about the merits of saving the planet. It isn’t worth it. Unless you both are skilled in the ways of modern skeptical discussion, you will just look like an idiot to them, and they will lump other EV owners in the same bucket. I have an EV and have had plenty of gas guzzling commodores. I probably will again. They have different purposes.
- Not everyone has to save the planet by buying an EV so don’t try and force people to. EVs are more expensive, have a range limitation, Nissan Leafs are ugly (yes I have one and I said it) and I won’t be towing my caravan with one any time soon. Also not great for people with an army of kids. Remember this when you are discussing the merits of EV ownership at your next party. They may want to save the planet as much as you, but it may just not be practical or affordable for them.
- EVs are purchased for many purposes. I actually bought mine more for saving money than saving the planet, and still have other ICE vehicles. I have enough skill to calmly discuss the merits and downsides of both of those issues, but if you don’t feel you do, just tell people why “you” bought one. Remember, theirs may be a completely different reason from yours.
- If some “scientist’, “engineer”, “keyboard warrior” or other “expert” tells you that your cancer causing lithium batteries are doing more harm to the environment than good, or not paying your fair share of road tax, just nod, smile sweetly and move along. Usually they will stop talking if you ignore them long enough.
- Remember: ICE is not a dirty word. Technically it is an acronym.
That extra 1% of range
Remember that (and especially so with Nissan Leafs) people buy them for different purposes. It isn’t always about the “range”.
- Some buy EVs because they accelerate like a startled whippet, and if they get 5km/kWh they are quite happy (especially if they charge up for free at Mum’s place). So don’t expect everyone is in it for the efficiencies.
- Tyres are all different. Low rolling resistance tyres trade grip performance to get better “mileage” (kilometerage?). Some people may want better stickiness on their tyres rather than more range, or they may be on a budget, so no need to try and force them to spend an extra $500 on a full set. Same goes for other performance “addons” that may reduce range.
- People have stuck all sorts of things and ripped all sorts of things off their cars for years. Stickers, wraps, lowering springs, adjustable shock absorbers, fluffy dice. EVs are no different. Yes they may lose range, or efficiency, you may think it looks like a Vietnamese funeral truck but they are probably fine with that. It is their car.
- There are various manufacturers of EV, and a number of models of Nissan Leaf like the S, X and G. None is better than the other, otherwise only one make/model would be sold. When people ask, feel free to let them know what features yours or the other models/brands have if you know but remember that each has their merits and your currently owned make/model may not be the best for them.
That “EV Community”
EVs are pretty new in the big scheme of things. They won’t be new forever though, which will mean that currently whilst there is a decent community around ownership, eventually they will be ‘just another car’. I’ve been there with other cars (Mazda MX5 groups from the early 2000s anyone? We used to wave too…).
However, whilst they are new and exciting, why not help others that are interested in EVs by:
- Letting them drive yours…
- Pointing people to the relevant internet resources, and facebook/social groups (yay Sam’s Leaf Guide and Flip the Fleet)
- Explaining what you know about the benefits and downsides (as long as you truly know this, and don’t just regurgitate what you read in some forum post…)
- Learn and explain to people the differences between EVs, Hybrids and PHVs. Bonus points for learning about Series vs Parallel vs Series/Parallel Drivetrains.
- Referring to Nissan Leafs as not Gen 1, 2, 3 but now Gen 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 2.1. It is the new, more fashionable name (Recently discovered by me…)
- NOT answering questions on social media and in forums unless you truly know the answer.
- Sharing any spreadsheets, graphs or calculators you techo types may have put together to justify ownership of an EV
- Waving to other EV owners (well probably Leaf owners… Tesla owners probably aren’t in to waving as a general rule. Damn, stereotyping again). Try to remember to wave only when you are in your EV, otherwise it just gets weird.
- At the very least wave back if someone waves to you… they may have just bought their EV and the excitement hasn’t worn off yet…
Other Useful EV and Nissan Leaf References
Sam’s Leaf Guide – A great go-to guide to check when researching your first Nissan Leaf in NZ
Flip the Fleet – NZ Community Project to improve EV Uptake, including Nissan Leaf Statistics
Drive Electric – Useful NZ EV resources, whitepapers and stats.
LeadingTheCharge – Trust managed Electric Vehicle enthusiasts group
The NZ Electric Car Guide – A pdf document, or web based equivalent. A great info document to hand to your friends. (Regularly updated as of Nov 2018, by Sigurd Magnusson of #Leadingthecharge and betternz.org trust.)
Guide to the Nissan Leaf – by Gulliver Driving Life (NZ Commercial Vehicle Sales site with Useful Leaf Info)
EV Registration Stats – from the New Zealand Ministry of Transport
New Zealand EV Owners Group – on Facebook
Nissan Leaf NZ Owners Group – on Facebook
My Nissan Leaf Forum – US Based, but plenty of community discussion, useful Leaf info and troubleshooting advice.
Plugshare – Website and App to tell you where the charge stations are. The commercial and free ones are shown.
Chargenet – Commercial company that provides fast chargers around NZ (they have an app too)