What’s It Like Driving An EV In The Northern Rivers?

How do I feel about driving for free powered by sunshine? Do I always smile when I drive past petrol stations and see fuel over two buck a litre? Do I enjoy the quiet, constant power of my Nissan Leaf while cruising up the highway?
Yes, yes and bloody well yes!
I have been driving my EV around the Northern Rivers for over a year now and it is my preferred vehicle for any occasion, provided I can drive there with a full charge or have time to fast charge and get the extra kms I need. I still have my trusty Subaru Outback for heavy towing and getting dirty down tracks, but the Leaf is pretty awesome on most roads and driveways.
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Vincent Selleck charging his EV Nissan Leaf
Vincent Selleck charging his Nissan Leaf EV at the NRMA Fast charge at the Farm at Ewingsdale

How to cope with range anxiety - Charging your EV in the Northern Rivers

I tend to use the Leaf on drives where I can get to destination and back again without having to charge. Until recently I had a Leaf with only a 24 kWh battery and the range was limited to 110 kms. It gets really freaky when it gets close to zero, so I try to stay in a zone where I have at least 25 kms left in the battery. That limits destinations to within about a ½ hour radius, so longer journeys could only happen if I stopped to charge along the way.
Fast chargers are the only way to go, unless you have a 4 hour to spare at a slow charger point. Most of the time a 15 minute charge from the NRMA Fast charge at the Farm at Ewingsdale was enough to get me home to Federal. It is free to use, and provided there is not a couple of Teslas doing an extended lunch at Three Blue Ducks, it is an easy in and out. I also use the Fox Charge next to Maccas at Ballina, which is 40c per kWh using a phone app. The most it ever cost me was $6, which is better than $100 to fill the Outback with vile dinosaur blood at the servo. I am still waiting for the Lismore Council to finish their Solar Fast Charging station at Lismore, which will open up a lot more territory.
The NSW Government is spending $171 million over the next 4 years installing new chargers, so you can soon be confident to head out and get charged wherever you go.

Tips for Fledglings

It is easy to get swelled up by the bravado of EV’s taking over the world, but heroic journeys are best left to seasoned explorers. Get used to how to charge at Fast chargers nearby, even when you don’t need to, just to learn the ropes before you venture into the wild unknown.
Plan your trips and have a backup plan in case the Fast charger is out of order or busy. Getting to your furthest remote oasis and finding that the well has dried up is enough to send even RAV4 camels insane.
I always carry a 10 amp charger that will plug into any power point so I can slow charge anywhere there is electricity. It tastes better than siphoned petrol and is great for out-of-range country drives when visiting friends or family. A BYO type 2 to type 1 charger cable is also handy for slower charge points.
Always allow for delays. I hardly ever have to wait, but there can be a queue at chargers and some cars can take literally hours to charge their massive batteries.

Charge your EV from solar at home

I don’t know anyone who has an oil well in their back yard but loads of people have solar energy to burn. Instead of getting peanuts selling excess power to the grid, storing it in an EV saves a heap more cash. With petrol prices rocketing like a wart in Ukraine and the increased maintenance cost of an oil burner car, I calculated I was saving the equivalent of 70 cents per kWh using my solar in the Leaf. That sure beats the 12 cents on offer from the coal barons running the electricity grid for selling back to the network. A third of your fuel cost is tax, so you can see how running free on sunshine makes natural sense.

In fact, using solar power to charge the EV is worth twice as much as using it at peak periods in your house. Don’t bother getting a solar battery on your home. Fill up an EV and drive for free instead.

Charging your EV from off grid solar

An EV uses a lot of power – up to three times more than your house. The good news is more solar panels are cheap to buy because the Government still provides a rebate for new panels – even off grid solar. So, filling up you chunky EV battery needs to take place during the day, when the power is being generated. Home batteries are too expensive, so filling your car from batteries is not a good option.

Most off grid solar systems have a lot of extra panels to cater for cloudy days, so on sunny days the home batteries are full before 10am. The solar panels then turn down to match your use and there is lots more power that never gets generated.
Having an EV to soak up this extra solar is a great way to get more from your panels.

How good is a Nissan Leaf?

The Leaf is an unbelievably reliable car. There is no clutch, gearbox, oil changes, fuel system, or heat generated. There is just a big electric motor that connects to the front wheels that either goes backwards or forwards. The batteries last for decades and the regenerative braking harvests power back to the battery so brake pads last four times longer.
If you avoid potholes, the maintenance for tyres, brakes and suspension is minimal and an annual service is usually enough to keep the Leaf happy and on the road.

Where can you get one?

In the Northern Rivers, 888 Solar Tek have a range of Leaf’s with different battery sizes and driving range. They are imported from Japan by a dealer in Brisbane and left here so you can easily look, touch and experience with test drive, rather than buying unseen from interstate sources or waiting ages for cars bought on a bulk buy program.
Prices are competitive and 888 Solar Tek provide charging equipment, cables and solar gear to make your EV investment turn into free road miles.
Test drive the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle today

Would you like a test drive?

I am happy to bring a Leaf to your door and let you take it for a spin. The experience of driving a Leaf for a few minutes can help dispel any fallacies that you may have heard and you can ask all the questions you have about EV’s.

Call Vincent for a no-obligation test drive on 02 6688 4480 or email at 888solartek@gmail.com.

About The Author

Vincent Selleck

Vincent Selleck

Vincent is the managing director of 888 Solar Tek with many years experience in solar and battery technology and a keen advocate of de-carbonising our planet. His honest advice considers the needs of others first and foremost and de-fuses the traps and pitfalls that are waiting for the inexperienced. Vincent is happy to answer questions anytime by phone on 02 6688 4480.

Vincent Selleck

Vincent Selleck

Vincent is the managing director of 888 Solar Tek with many years experience in solar and battery technology and a keen advocate of de-carbonising our planet. His honest advice considers the needs of others first and foremost and de-fuses the traps and pitfalls that are waiting for the inexperienced. Vincent is happy to answer questions anytime by phone on 02 6688 4480.