EVs and the bonus for business
After putting an electric van to the test in his fleet, Wellington-based electrical contractor Wayan Rosie has a simple message to share: “I will never buy another combustion engine vehicle again.”
Some six months ago, Rosie purchased a UK-import Nissan eNV200 battery-powered plug-in van, which is being used daily in his business, Pluto Electrics. And the results have blown him away.
But how did Rosie come to consider an electric vehicle (EV) in the first place? “I was looking at a Nissan when I noticed they do an electric version. It made sense, considering what we do. And once I’d done the calculations on the cost of diesel and road user charges, it looked great on paper.”
For every tradie, a work vehicle is an essential tool for getting the job done. Reliability, range and cost of ownership are among the key factors determining vehicle choice, with space and load capacity following closely after. Going electric, therefore, isn’t a decision made lightly.
Rosie started with some calculations: he worked out that covering 20,000km would cost around $5,000 for a ‘traditional’ diesel van. Electricity for the EV for the same distance? Around $600 – just over one tenth of the money.
The acquisition cost is important too; the used eNV200 van was priced at $27,000 and had done around 5,000km. “That compared very favourably with the other new vehicle we’d just acquired, a diesel van at $50,000,” Rosie notes. “And then there’s the cost of maintenance. An EV has a fraction of the moving parts of a combustion-engined vehicle, so you can expect to pay for brakes only and not much more besides. That makes it a heck of a lot cheaper, especially when you have five or six vehicles that need maintenance.”
No annual oil changes, no spark plugs, no coolant flushes: it all adds up to a massive reduction in overheads and a lower total cost of ownership.
But advantages on-paper are one thing. How does the EV shape up at work? Half a year into owning and operating the vehicle, Rosie sings its praises. “We’ve never run out of battery, so it has the range needed; we could top it up it every second day, but it’s best to always have it fully charged,” he points out.
Pluto Electrics are equipped with two (15 amp) charger points at separate locations meaning there’s never an issue in being able to top up the vehicle. “It takes around 6 hours for a full charge, which cost about $3, so it’s not even an ‘overnight’; there’s headroom,” he adds. But, if they ever did need to recharge on the run, they have the option of using one of the fast charging stations that are now available across the city. This rapidly growing public network can recharge a vehicle in under half an hour.
There are obvious environmental benefits, as the EV doesn’t use fossil fuels; on top of that, there’s a further ‘wow’ factor. “Very few people realise that you can buy a fully-electric plug-in work vehicle right now,” says Rosie. “So, it gets a lot of attention. It’s a real discussion point and folks are noticing.”
As for driving the EV, he says getting behind the wheel is a pleasure, with smooth delivery of serious tractive force. In fact, he says he prefers the EV to his late-model diesel ute, with the torque and acceleration of the EV streets ahead. “It makes the ute seem slow by comparison. And I kind of feel dirty driving the diesel.”
So good has the electric experiment been that he has purchased a Nissan Leaf passenger vehicle for day-to-day errands. And Rosie is also convinced that electric is the way forward, particularly since the other $50,000 new vehicle in his fleet has provided a counterpoint to the EV: “There’s always – literally, always - something wrong with it and every time it goes for a service, it’s another $1,000.
“Compare that with the EV, which in six months has cost nothing apart from signwriting it and $3 to charge it up before use. It totally adds up – and though we have a couple of almost new combustion engine vehicles, I don’t want them any longer. Every new vehicle from here on will be electric.”