We ordered a new electric vehicle this week (the Kia EV6). We should all shift to electric vehicles rather than fossil fuel powered vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), right? I have been watching electric vehicles for about the past three years as our Toyota Rav4 has become more expensive to service and significantly more rattly. Rapidly increasing fuel prices is another spur to action. The Kia is finally an EV which can drive from Gibbston to Christchurch without needing topping up (at least in theory) and can charge for a 100km of travel in 4 minutes. It also can tow – we constantly need to tow trailers living on a lifestyle block in the country. And it can have a roof load, if we want to put skis on it in winter.
We could have ordered an AWD version (rather than the RWD) which is relevant when you live somewhere which gets snow and ice in winter. However, on reading in depth about AWD vs RWD, I decided that the reduction in distance resulting from AWD was too much of a loss compared with a minor gain in traction on the small number of bad weather days. If it is really bad weather, we can put chains on.
There has been an extreme paucity of EVs that can tow and have roof loads and, until this year, none that could get us to Christchurch in one go (a Tesla existed, but wasn’t available in NZ). Kia announced the pricing and I immediately sent the local dealer an email. Now we are in the queue for a car that will arrive in 3-6 months – there are some unspecified number of Kia EV6s on a boat coming to New Zealand. You would really think they would know how many are on the water, wouldn’t you?!
The dealer asked me if I was in a hurry. That seemed like a pointless question given no-one can speed up the arrival of the boat and there is no other option. Nor can anyone speed up the second boat, if there are not enough cars on the first one to satisfy the queue that is ahead of me. I can also only hope that the boat with our future car doesn’t meet the same fate as one recently transporting 4000 used EVs to New Zealand – it caught fire. The fire was apparently not the fault of the EVs but once the boat was alight the lithium in their batteries burned very happily and hotly. This is reported to be creating concern around risks and costs of shipping EVs.
So, are we good, buying an EV? Or are we bad? Would we be doing the planet more of a favour by sticking with our existing car and running it into the ground? Or are we helping, by buying a new vehicle that will not emit GHGs in its operation, even though there are significant GHGs involved in its manufacture (not so much in the charging because NZ electricity is over 80% renewables-generated)? Or is it bad to buy another vehicle that results in continuing rape and pillage of various parts of the planet for the materials required in its manufacture, including the lithium batteries.
There was a related discussion on National Radio about buying second hand clothing. The panellist said she made a decision some years ago to only buy second hand clothing. However, she was concerned about how the price of second hand clothing has increased massively of late (along with the prices of many things, including food, fuel and rent), inhibiting her purchasing. She delivered some very confused logic regarding how people (other than her), who really need second hand clothing should be able to afford to buy it. I think she meant that people who need cheap, good quality clothing need such clothing be available from second hand sources at a price lower than new clothing. Obviously, if second hand clothing becomes more expensive than new clothing, and new clothing is still available, second hand clothing might price itself out of the market.
However, the point I should be making here is, is this woman good for buying second hand clothing, or is she bad? Should she be leaving the second hand clothing for the theoretical people who need it more than her? Would she be doing the environment more good by rationing the amount of clothing that she buys, rather than allowing herself to buy things simply because they are second hand?
Is the fundamental flaw in all this logic that we are focusing on buying better where we should be focusing on buying less. We should figure out how to buy fewer things and only concern ourselves with buying better (e.g. less energy intensive, recycled/reused) if it is essential to buy something at all? Now, how to make that go down well with the economic pundits who still determinedly call economic growth a good thing…