PAYING FOR OUR SINS
We are currently in the middle of the biggest attack on our culture since the mainstream media fuelled police crackdowns on ‘boy racers’ during the mid 2000s. Our fossil-fuelburning days seem numbered, and the push towards an electric vehicle (EV)–based fleet spearheaded by the government is going to have a significant impact on the way we enjoy cars — maybe not in this coming decade but certainly in those to follow. We’re likely to become the lepers of the road, with public perception shifting — much as it has on smoking — and there could well be a future in which we are spat at while grabbing another tank of fossil juice to burn through. As a country, we need to reduce our carbon emissions — of this I have no doubt or argument about — but I’m torn between a love for internal-combustion car culture and looking after our planet.
What really grates me is having to pay for others to adapt to this new petrol-less way of life. Vector estimates are between a 100- and 2000-per-cent increase in electricity consumption per household, dependent on the rate of the charge system you choose, and that’s for only one car. While no one is questioning New Zealand’s ability to produce enough renewable power to cover it, getting it to the battery of your EV is another story. This is going to require significant upgrades to the current grid, which will more than likely be funded by anyone who pays for power in New Zealand — yip, hiked-up power bills to fund your neighbour’s EV, rather than a tariff on the purchase of an EV vehicle. There is also talk of a levy placed on the sale of combustion-engine vehicles to subsidise those who wish to purchase EVs to salt the wounds more.
Further, us in the big smoke of Auckland have just been hit with yet another levy on our petrol price, with another nationwide one due to hit later this year, to pay for roading and public transport infrastructure. That’s over 20c more per litre, and it’s not likely to ever go down, as the government wants us to shift away from petrol and, the more we do, the more the economies of scale will swing the opposite direction for petroleum companies. I shudder to think what a litre will cost in 20 years. All of this spells less and less spare cash in the back pocket to waste on fuelling PPs, stroked JZs, or heavily ported K24s just to head out on a Sunday drive or cut a few laps.
I’m not against the shift; EVs are cheap to run and cheap to maintain, which makes them a perfect daily-driver if you’re a penny-pincher. Hell, I’ve driven a few and would happily own one as a grocery-getter or even tow vehicle. I can see performance benefits in hybrid conversions, and also think a performance EV would be a hell of a back-road carver. But, in saying that, I will also own internal-combustion-powered cars till the day I die, as there is a romance involved — in the smell, the feel, and the sound — that an EV will never deliver for the likes of myself, and I suspect many of you will feel the same. Change is happening, and we’re all going to help fund it. So I guess, in that case, we should all embrace it, right? EV for the daily commute, saving cash and the planet nine-to-five just so we can combust it all away on the weekends … Well, while it lasts, anyway.