Meet an EV owner: Lisa

Nissan Leaf electric vehicle car
Nissan Leaf electric vehicle car

Meet electric vehicle (EV) owner, Lisa. An NRMA Member for 25 years, Lisa has already racked up years of EV ownership across multiple brands and models since she and her husband decided to make the electric switch five years ago.

A Canberra resident, Lisa was generous enough to offer her time and speak to the NRMA about what it's like being an EV owner, including buying, maintaining, repairing and selling electric vehicles.

What EV models does your family own?

We’ve got two, actually, a Nissan Leaf (pictured at top of story) and a Hyundai Kona.

We started with the Leaf when we still had a petrol car and were just using it as a town car to get around the city. Then when the Kona was released with better range, we sold the petrol car to buy one.

Why did you originally buy an EV?

It was mostly for environmental reasons. We were a one-car family with a Toyota Prius and we were getting to the point where one car wasn’t working anymore, so we needed a second car and were also thinking about the environmental impact of that.

The range [of EVs] then wasn’t great, but [the Leaf] suited a second, around-town car.

Did you buy both cars new?

Only the Kona. We purchased the Leaf second-hand; it’s a 2012 model and we bought it in 2016. There was some deliberation on the model but there wasn’t a massive amount of choice at the time.

We settled on the Leaf as a reasonable mid-range option, then we spent some time looking in the second-hand market.

Did you have any apprehensions about buying a second-hand EV?

No, my husband is quite an expert on the subject, so he knew what to look for in terms of battery condition.

Battery condition was the main thing – to make sure it hadn’t deteriorated too much. The car was in Tasmania and that was attractive because the batteries don’t deteriorate as much in cold climates as they do in hotter climates. So for its age, it was in good condition.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Above: A Hyundai Kona Electric, Lisa's family's second EV addition

How do you typically charge the vehicles?

Almost all of it’s done at home. We have a wall charger in the garage that we switch between the cars. We’ve got solar panels too, so try to charge as much as possible during the daytime, but when that doesn’t work out we charge overnight.

We only really charge away from home if we’re going away. Now that we have the Kona, that’s the one we take away if we’re going interstate or to the coast. We use both the NRMA and Chargefox networks when we do that.

In the last few months, we’ve been down to Merimbula so we use the Bega charger. Other times we go to Kiama and use the fast charger in Berry – occasionally Golburn.

Have you found range anxiety to be a genuine concern?

Occasionally, but less so over time. When we first got the Leaf, it was a matter of learning to judge it – we joke that the range is the ‘Guess-o-meter’.

The range changes, so when the weather is warmer you’ve got better range than when it’s colder and the car doesn’t know when you’re going to be going uphill.

With the Kona, we’ve been caught out once heading to Murimbula. There’s a charger in Bega, but it was offline.

It was a variety of things: we hadn’t charged it to 100 per cent before we left the house; then we chose not to top up in Cooma, thinking we’ll top up at Bega; then we got to Bega and the charger wasn’t working.

How did you resolve the issue? Did the battery go flat?

We were able to charge it with an extension cord at the venue we were staying.

No, we’ve never run out of charge or even come close. There’s a thing called ‘turtle mode’, where before the battery dies the car will let you drive at a slow speed to reach a charger, but we’ve never gotten to that before.

Have you ever required NRMA Roadside Assistance for either of your EVs?

Yes, for the Kona for a flat tyre. The process was the exact same as a regular car. It’s still totally worthwhile having the roadside assistance with an EV.

Do you have any idea how long you’ll hold onto the cars for? Is there a milestone you’d reach before you consider selling?

With the Leaf, because it’s so old and the first generation, we’ll probably hold onto it and ‘drive it into the ground’.

For the Kona, I think we’ll look at selling it before that point of deterioration. We’re looking at the Hyundai Ioniq, so maybe in a few years we’ll switch to that.

Image at top of story: supplied

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