ARTICLE  Jason Burgess
 

EV’s, really?

With growing consumer awareness and concern about fossil fuel scarcity, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. car manufacturers are fast-tracking the R&D of EV and Plug-in-Hybrid EV’s (PHEV) to meet the growing demand. To date driving ranges for EV’s is between 120- 220 kilometres but with new generation vehicles coming on stream they are now getting up between 300-440 kilometres depending on the manufacturer.

Norway has the highest uptake of EV’s in the world. In the UK, the British Committee on Climate Change have said that by 2030, 60% of all new car sales will be EVs and PHEVs.  By 2040 sales of new petrol and diesel cars, will be banned. The New Zealand Centre for Advanced Engineering predicts that there will be between 100,000 - 200,000 EV's in the country by 2020 and that number could double if not quadruple by 2030.

The burgeoning EV fleet in New Zealand features models to suit all price points. They include: BMW i3, Hyundai IONIQ, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Kia Soul EV, Mitsubishi i-Miev, Tesla Model S and Model X, plus the VW e-Golf. The most common electric vans are the Nissan e-NZ200 and a Renault Kangoo.

Are EV’s really cheaper?

In a word, yes –particularly in the long run. In terms of powering an EV the folks at The New Zealand Electric Car Guide estimate that for a 1.5 – 2.0 litre petrol car, the fuel cost at $2 per litre, based on an average of 14,000 km per year, is around $2093. Diesel equivalents at $1.49 litre, about $1750 per year.

For an EV, home charging on a day rate of $0.20c per kWh, the price per weeks is about $9 or $489 a year. On a night rate of $0.11 that drops to approximately $5 a week or $269 per year. Roughly speaking that’s the equivalent of $0.30 a litre for a standard EV like a Nissan LEAF.

Remember, EV’s have no clutch, gears or spark plugs, fewer moving parts, need no engine oil and thus require less maintenance than a petrol equivalent. They have better traction and torque (Tesla’s can go from 0-100kph in less than 3 seconds). As well, EV’s use a regenerative braking system, which means driving down hills and braking too, helps recharge the batteries.

An EV motor does not use energy when the car is stationary. As technology improves EV batteries get smaller, lighter, more efficient and cheaper to replace but should last well over 500,000 kilometres in the first instance. In New Zealand, there are currently no road user charges for EV’s and they are free to use bus lanes.  

What kind of Power?

There are two charging technologies for EV’s- AC & DC. All electric vehicles can be charged with a standard three-pin socket, using Alternating Current (AC) power. Many charger leads have standard three pin plugs, some have an industrial or ‘caravan plug’ that allow. faster charging.

A vehicle can be charged overnight on a 10amps circuit. Charge times vary depending on the capacity and state-of-charge of the car’s battery. Other factors include the amplitude of the charging supply point and the power rating of the AC/DC converter that the car has (for AC charging.)

Most EV’s come with two charging leads. One is a portable charger that plugs into a standard three-pin plug (Type 1 and 2) or caravan plug. The other lead will be suitable for Direct Current (DC) chargers found at public charging stations.  They charge the battery directly, and offer a super-fast top-up (around 20-30 minutes).  There are two different international DC connector plug types: CCS and CHAdeMO from Europe and Japan respectively. In an effort to achieve ‘interoperability’ across all public charging stations both of these sockets are used in the public charge points.

Some specific car brands like Tesla and BMW, feature their own charging connectors. They can be fitted with single and three phase power supplies.

If the car is a second-hand import check that all leads/cables comply with New Zealand's Electrical Safety Regulations and Standards.

 

What charging options are there for a domestic garage?

Fitting out a garage for EV charging will require some initial planning for siting vehicle charge points, plus circuit testing and installation work by a registered electrician. Some renovators might take future proofing to the next level and install solar photovoltaics (PV) to create an off-grid energy supply to power all the garage activities.

It is recommended that an independent circuit be installed for vehicle charging. In most instances, a standard 8-10 amps AC circuit will suffice and these can be up-rated to 15amps (or 32amps for wall charger units,) to reduce charging time to less than six hours. If there is no garage present, a 15amps socket outdoors socket or 16amps “Blue Commando” caravan type socket can be installed. Circuitry and switch boards in older homes may also need to be upgraded.

Three Phase power can reduce charge time to around one hour but is expensive to install and not all EV’s are 3-Phase compatible. Check the hand book or with the dealer before calling the sparkie.

Any tips for the install?

Before installing any new wiring and power sockets think about potential foot traffic in the area between the car and EV chargers. Consider which side or end of the car needs to be closest to the outlet.

A power outlet should be no more than seven-metres from the car. Ideally this would be on a dedicated charging circuit, with a designated outlet for every car space. Do not use extension cables. The most cost-effective installations are against walls, so all wiring should ideally be done once framing is complete and before the walls go on.  Distance from the switch board will determine much of any new install costs.

From an ergonomic point of view, install wall mounted chargers at hip height, for ease of use. In communal space power sockets should sit in between 2 carparks for joint usage, or centred in the car space it will be serving. In apartments check with the building manager.

For the best in domestic convenience, a 16amps dedicated wall-mounted charging unit will save charging time and tidy away cables. They charge fast at higher currents and some can feed battery information to your smart phone. The cable is attached to the unit, with a specific plug to fit your car. These are particularly suitable to EV’s with a large battery that can able to support the higher kWh charging speed (16-40 amp.)

You might be interested in reading: Car parking solutions.

 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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