EV-an­ge­lists preach elec­tric car gospel

Waikato Times - - NEWS - MIKE MATHER

Keith Pat­ton has just prod­ded the ac­cel­er­a­tor on his Tesla Model S P100D and the $240,000 ve­hi­cle has re­sponded by at­tempt­ing to de­part New Zealand.

It’s an ex­pe­ri­ence that is one-part sit­ting in the front row of the Giant Drop ride at Dream­world, and two-parts Han Solo ac­ti­vat­ing the hy­per­drive on the Mil­len­nium Fal­con.

Go­ing from 1 to 100kmh in 2.5 sec­onds is thrilling in any cir­cum­stances.

But this time there is no roar of a pow­er­ful com­bus­tion engine. In­stead, it is an al­most si­lent purr.

‘‘There are no gears. It’s straight power to wheels,’’ Pat­ton ex­plains.

He has brought his car to an event called Race­track Day – part of Drive Elec­tric Week – at the Kart­sport Hamil­ton rac­ing track near Hamil­ton’s air­port.

It’s a gath­er­ing of car en­thu­si­asts and en­vi­ron­men­tal en­thu­si­asts, an un­ex­pected com­bi­na­tion.

Pat­ton, who lives in Mead­ow­bank, Auck­land, and has a back­ground in en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment busi­ness own­er­ship, says he has never been into cars.

‘‘I didn’t even be­gin to drive un­til I was in my 30s. But this is some­thing dif­fer­ent. It is like an iPhone on wheels.

‘‘I’ve had it for four months, but I have al­ready driven it much more of­ten than my last car, which I had for much longer. It’s just so smooth and quiet and com­fort­able.’’

Pat­ton con­fi­dently pre­dicts that by 2025, most new cars sold in New Zealand will be elec­tric.

‘‘There will al­ways be peo­ple into com­bus­tion en­gines of var­i­ous kinds, but it will even­tu­ally be­come more of a hobby.’’

Among the crowd oogling the late­model elec­tric cars are dozens of stu­dents tak­ing part in the re­gional fi­nals of the EVoloc­ity Chal­lenge.

Nine­teen teams from 13 schools are bat­tling it out on the tar­mac with self­built all-elec­tric race karts, vy­ing to qual­ify for the na­tional fi­nals in Christchurch.

Among them are a small but de­ter­mined team from Te Kopuku High School in Te Rapa.

‘‘This is a mas­sive achieve­ment for us,’’ says ka­iako Lovey Chap­man. ‘‘We have a team of six 11-, 12- and 13-yearolds, none of whom have much ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing, but they are all pretty en­thu­si­as­tic.’’

Spon­sored by Mod­ern Trans­port En­gi­neer­ing, the team’s three-wheeled invention – all cut, welded and as­sem­bled by hand – might not be the fastest but it looks very cool.

Any of the stu­dents could one day go on to a ca­reer en­gi­neer­ing elec­tric cars, event or­gan­iser Justin Boyd said.

‘‘I’ve de­scribed my­self as an EVan­ge­list, and yeah, some­times it does feel like I’m from a church.

‘‘I’m re­ally here to chat to peo­ple from an owner’s per­spec­tive and de­mys­tify elec­tric cars, show them that they are just as good and re­li­able and pow­er­ful as the cars they are driv­ing.’’

PHOTO: MIKE MATHER/STUFF

Keith Pat­ton is thrilled with his $240,000 Tesla Model S P100D.

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