When we moved from the bush to the town seven years ago there were two criteria for the best location for our new home. The first was a north facing roof for solar panels and the other was to be within easy walking distance of essential services. In my own case these ‘essentials’ were the library and the railway station both of which were eventually less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Until recently transport around town was walking, bike riding and lastly using our small 4 cylinder car. Our larger 4 wheel drive, now over 20 years old, was retained for longer trips. This is now much reduced as the train is used occasionally by my wife and I. Also my preference is to walk everywhere I can, and I have not used my bike for a year or two.
About 6 months ago I became the owner of a battery electric vehicle – a Nissan Leaf. The vehicle was imported from Japan and purchased by my wife, and is mainly used by her. Ideally I would prefer not to own a car but the semi-remote nature of our town has meant that at least one is required. Our ‘new’ car is a 2015 model and has a range of about 150Ks which puts Melbourne out of reach especially as we are trying to run the battery between 20-80% of charge.
But it easily covers trips around town which is approximately 95% of our vehicle usage.* Purchasing a second hand vehicle means that there is no extra CO2 produced during manufacture, but on downside the seller will probably be buying a new car – hopefully electric. Buying second-hand also brings the price of the vehicle into a range we can afford. As an added bonus the car is charged from our rooftop solar system and when that is not available by renewable energy purchased through our electricity retailer.
The future will eventually see us as a one car (electric) family. In theory when the battery is no longer sufficient for the car it is still quite suitable for household use. 4R Energy and Relectrify in Melbourne are making these conversions although they are not available commercially yet. There is a New Zealand company doing likewise. Equally, and in theory at least, the Leaf is able to provide power to the home known as V2H or ‘vehicle to home’. The just released ‘Leaf’ model is advertised as V2H compatible but again I not aware of this being applied locally. It is currently being tested in Japan. But it is something to look forward to as part of the ‘all electric’ transport and home powered by renewable energy.
*average distance a car travels in Australia is 34.5k per day