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Electric vehicles already cost effective - Flip the Fleet

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Most New Zealanders would save more than five times the interest on any loan they would have to take out to meet the extra cost of buying an electric vehicle.

This is finding of Flip the Fleet, a citizen science collaboration of over 330 EV owners who have signed up to share data from their cars’ dashboards each month. The median return on investment on a notional loan for the added cost of their EV in August was 526%. It’s no wonder therefore that 76% of 213 EV owners polled this month by Flip the Fleet reckon that people should buy an EV immediately. Only 16% reckon it would be best to wait another year, and 8% advise people to wait 2-5 years to allow the price of EVs to come down further, for a greater variety and longer range EVs to enter the market, and for better public charging infrastructure for long distance travel in EVs.

"The top 5% of our data contributors save more about 16 times the interest needed to pay more up front when they buy their EV" says Dima Ivanov, a co-founder of Flip the Fleet.

"These winners are in a sweet spot because they regularly commute long distances to and from work each day, or drive the kids around to all those after school activities. On the other hand, about 8% of EV owners only just break even or lose money on their added investment in an EV because they don’t drive it far each month, or purchased a more expensive luxury EV".

Petrol is a lot more expensive than electricity for propelling a car over the same distance, and electric motors need a lot less maintenance and repairs because they have way fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine. But you have to be using your car for the savings to mount up enough to outweigh the higher upfront costs of switching to electric.

The financial gain has a lot of EV owners wondering why more New Zealanders aren’t buying EVs right away. One respondent to Flip the Fleet’s September poll asked "Why not print money while you cruise around in a cool car?". Another stated: "Buying an EV has raised my standard of living by being cheaper to run. And my EV is safe and oh so comfortable". Some people buy EVs mainly for environmental reasons, particularly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Others just love the high performance and pleasant driving experience. Most see multiple benefits. One said "You’re saving money while you’re saving the planet". "We think a lot of people are waiting unnecessarily before they switch to electric cars" said Mr Ivanov. "Several of our drivers pointed out in this month’s poll that you can put the money you save from buying an EV now into upgrading to a newer and improved EV model later".

One respondent said "Electric cars are a bit like computers and phones - there is never an ideal time to get into the market as there is always something better on the horizon. But the sooner you enter the market, the sooner you start making savings and a difference to the environment".

"We think buying an EV now is a particularly smart option for two-car families" says Mr Ivanov. "You can keep an old conventional vehicle for occasional long distance trips or towing, and still more than pay for the back-up by switching most of your running over to an EV for most of your local weekly travel needs".

Only 21% of the households contributing data to Flip the Fleet own just one, or occasionally two, EVs and no internal combustion vehicles. The rest have one (64%), two (13%) or even three (1.3%) internal combustion vehicles as well as their EVs.

Flip the Fleet is a citizen science project that provides scientifically reliable information on the benefits and constraints of electric vehicles in New Zealand. The project is partly funded by MBIE’s Curious Minds portfolio, through Otago Museum. Participation is free and all New Zealand’s electric vehicle owners can enrol at www.flipthefleet.org

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