Powerful lobbies constant briefing against the move to electric motoring, but the switch has saved us a fortune, with negligible downsides
I don’t regard myself as an authority on much, but there is one topic on which I can speak authoritatively and that is on owning and driving an electric car.
The current consort and I have had one since 2016. I would contend this gives us/me more heft than many when it comes to discussing the pros and cons of these vehicles.
I am fed up listening to people who have never sat in an electric car — or have had a fleeting trial run in one — pontificating negatively or damning them with faint praise.
Every so often some media outlet will engage a celebrity or two to take an electric car for the weekend with instructions to come back and tell all about it. Generally, all we hear about are the fears, forebodings and failures of the novice.
Let me tell our story. We once owned two diesel cars; our diesel bills were quite significant, as was our ‘carbon tyre-print’. We toyed with the idea of replacing one of the vehicles with an electric car, and, like a lot of people, price and range anxiety made us cautious.
In terms of range requirements, we live 35 to 40 minutes from where the current consort works, we have family all over the country and my work can involve a lot of travel.
Price was also an issue. We were hoping to buy a new vehicle but, even with a government grant of €5,000, it looked like we would have to spend around €28,000. That was an addition to our borrowings we didn’t want to make.
Then we spotted a two-year-old Leaf in the forecourt of the local Nissan garage. It had only 25,000km on the clock. We traded in our trusty Ford Mondeo (with almost half a million kilometres under its fan belt) and bought the Leaf for €16,000.
Nissan installed a charging point at home, and we haven’t looked back since.
Very soon all our fears about owning an electric car, from range anxiety to battery depletion, were put to rest.
Let me just give the facts. We have had it for five years and there is now 180,000km on the clock. In its seven years it has lost about 8pc of the battery capacity, which only happened recently.
It is now one of the older models, with a range of about 130km, but it covers our needs and we have never run out of charge.
Dealing with range anxiety involves just a small bit of organisation and patience — not much to ask for in the face of climate disaster.
The car regularly does the trip from east Clare to Longford, a journey that involves a 20-minute stop for a charge in Ballinasloe or Athlone.
Two years ago I had occasion to work in Dungarvan and factored in a stop in either Fermoy or Cashel to charge. That gave me plenty of time to make a few phone-calls, read documentation or just relax.
Most of the new electric models do between 350km and 500km without a charge, a range that will cover nearly all journeys on the island of Ireland.
The 542km trek from Belfast to Castletownbere in West Cork is completely doable in any of the latest electric cars — just factor in one stop for coffee, a pee and a charge.
A friend of mine recently drove her electric VW from Portlaoise to Blacksod in north-west Mayo and still had more than 100km to spare when she got there.
Yes, the number of charging points is slightly behind demand, but progress is evident every week.
When it comes to running costs, opting for an electric car is a no-brainer.
The diesel car, which our electric car replaced, was costing us €350 per month on fuel; the electric car is adding about €35 per month to our electricity bill. The road tax is €120 per year.
When it comes to servicing and repairs, it is a dream compared to a diesel or petrol car. It goes to the garage for a check-up once a year, which costs about €140.
In five years, I have only ever opened the bonnet to top up the windscreen washer or show curious people what the electric motor looks like.
Aside from replacing odd bits that suffer normal wear and tear, like parts of the suspension, it has cost us nothing in terms of repairs.
It has a fraction of the moving parts of a fossil-fuel engine and therefore a fraction of the things that can go wrong.
It has no fuel filter, no oil filter, no fuel pump, no water pump, no timing belt, no fan belt, no clutch, no starter, no alternator — all the things that break your heart and your pocket in a regular vehicle.
I could go on and on, but before I finish let me say that there are powerful, well-funded lobbies constantly briefing against electric vehicles.
People should listen to those who drive them. In five years of owning one I can only sing their praises.