EV-angelists preach electric car gospel
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.’’
Keith Patton is thrilled with his $240,000 Tesla Model S P100D.