Fam­ily save with an elec­tric car

How this fam­ily is sav­ing while en­joy­ing the ride

Sunday Star-Times - - Focus -

Buy­ing an elec­tric ve­hi­cle is sav­ing one Kiwi fam­ily nearly $2000 a year in run­ning costs. Imo­gen and Sean Thomp­son didn’t set out to look at elec­tric cars when they de­cided to re­place their Nis­san Pul­sar last year as they as­sumed they would be too pricey. In­stead, they thought they’d buy a small, fuel-ef­fi­cient petrol car. “We were think­ing about get­ting maybe a Suzuki Swift or a lit­tle Toy­ota Yaris or some­thing like that,” said Sean. Then one of the cars they were shown in their price range at a lo­cal car deal­er­ship was a 2011 Nis­san Leaf elec­tric car. At $17,000, it was only about $2,000 more than the petrol cars they were look­ing at. “The price sur­prised me,” said Imo­gen. “I thought that they were vastly more ex­pen­sive, but ac­tu­ally it was an eco­nomic pur­chase out­right and the main­te­nance, the on­go­ing run­ning of the car is far bet­ter value. Fi­nan­cially it’s a no-brainer for us, and from an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive it’s just awe­some to know there are no more emis­sions go­ing into the at­mos­phere ev­ery time we drive. There’s no smell, there’s no ex­haust, it’s re­ally quiet, it’s safe.” An­other sur­prise came dur­ing the test drive around hilly ter­rain, when Imo­gen dis­cov­ered the Nis­san Leaf had a lot of grunt. “There are no gears to change and it just goes so smoothly and so pow­er­fully up­hill with­out any sort of ef­fort, and it can go from zero to 100 very quickly.” Al­though they are con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment, Sean said ul­ti­mately the de­ci­sion to buy the car was a prag­matic one. They needed a re­li­able, eco­nom­i­cal car for his daily 30km com­mute from home to work. “Ev­ery week that worked out to be about $50 in petrol, but with the elec­tric car it works out to about $8 a week in elec­tric­ity… That makes a huge amount of sense fi­nan­cially for us,” he said. Trips to the petrol sta­tion are no longer on the to-do list, in­stead, at the end of his daily com­mute, Sean sim­ply plugs the car into a standard elec­tri­cal socket in his garage. Us­ing a standard 240 volt out­let, it takes about eight hours for the car to fully charge, giv­ing it a range of around 100km. It can plug into any standard out­let, so if he needs to, Sean can also plug in his car at work and charge it dur­ing the day or use a fast charger when out and about. Their kids, six-year-old Leo and four-year-old Phoebe are also big fans of the car. “I like it be­cause it doesn’t pol­lute the air,” said Leo. “Petrol cars have ex­haust pipes and the smoke that comes out of them pol­lutes the air. Elec­tric cars like our one don’t have ex­haust pipes so they don’t pol­lute the air with smoke.”

To find out more about mak­ing your next car an elec­tric ve­hi­cle visit


Sean and Imo­gen re­placed their trusty Nis­san Pul­sar with a Nis­san Leaf elec­tric car.

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