Why I Switched To an EV

Jan-Bart is from Holland, has lived in Ireland for 18 years and has been driving an electric vehicle (EV) for six years.

He recently appeared on Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland podcast 180Degrees to share his experience of switching to an EV. He confesses the technology of EVs intrigued him first, but the money saving was a lovely secondary benefit and of course, the green credentials.

The Research

In 2012, when Jan-Bart was looking to purchase a new car, he started researching what EV models were available on the market. He went with a hybrid then because he wasn’t happy the options met his needs. In 2014, he went fully electric and purchased a Renault ZOE.

For his research, Jan-Bart used a spreadsheet to calculate potential savings based on his average driving distances. He also took a few models for test drives and investigated used cars too. However, in 2014, the used car market wasn’t at the level it is in 2020 so didn’t provide much of a choice for him.

The Savings

Jan-Bart went from spending €150/month on petrol for his hybrid to €40/month on electricity to charge the EV.

Many people mention the cost when he talks about his EV. “They say they’re expensive and yes, not everyone can afford a new car.”

He urges people to keep in mind the total cost of ownership when purchasing a new vehicle. It’s the fuel savings, reduced maintenance costs, toll incentives and the lower rates of motor tax etc. that makes an EV an attractive buy. These all add up over the years. Of course, it depends on where someone lives, how much driving they do and how many cars per household. “There’s a lot of options for everyone,” he says.

“The first time I sat down in an electric car I couldn’t stop smiling. I always tell people to test drive one.”

The Range

“I was nervous about the range. I live in North Cork and the electric car charging network wasn’t very good at the time. There are still gaps here and there but it’s much better now.” He says his home charger is invaluable to him and is lucky to have a driveway at home where he has easy access. To avail of the SEAI home charger grant, you must have your own driveway.  Fully charged, Jan-Bart can drive 350km before needing to stop and charge again.

For EV owners without a driveway, there are still plenty of options, he says. Many workplaces are installing them; there are varying levels of public charging infrastructure around Ireland; and businesses such as supermarkets and hotels are providing charging units in their car parks too.

“The majority of people drive 30-40km a day so the charge will do you for a week. It is well within reach of any electric car on the market.” The range is getting better because the cars and batteries are improving, as is the charging infrastructure, he says.

Jan-Bart believes the key to overcoming any range anxiety is simple planning. He plotted out a circle of his usual routes 60km from his home and factored in the return journeys too. “I came to the conclusion that I could do the vast majority of my journeys without having to charge, which was good.” Jan-Bart’s longer journeys, including visits to his in-laws in North Kerry and trips to Dublin, required more preparation and checking the public charging network in advance. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be confident that your EV will get you to a certain point before needing to charge again.

The Experience

He says driving an EV becomes a habit like any other. “I don’t see myself as having to change my lifestyle. Having a home charge point means I can plug it in and go about my business.” He believes he’s driving more now because of the lower costs.

Jan-Bart uses the term ‘the EV grin’ a lot and says “the first time I sat down in an electric car I couldn’t stop smiling. I always tell people to test drive one.”

The best thing about driving an EV, according to him, is driving around the North Cork countryside with the windows down, listening to the birds and there’s no noise and no smoke. “It’s the serenity of the drive.”

To hear Jan-Bart’s story in full, tune into Episode 3 of 180 Degrees – a podcast brought to you by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Government of Ireland.  

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