Electric vehicles could change the great Kiwi road-trip

16 December 2021 | News

Don’t dismiss the electric vehicle (EV) when it comes to transport for your holiday road-trip.

Lincoln University researchers Helen Fitt and Niamh Espiner reckon they will go the distance and spark changes in how we take our holidays.

They conducted research with 34 EV owners for their report “Looking beyond limitations: Electric vehicle use in New Zealand holidays.”

Many of the participants had used their EVs on longer trips, from Cape Reinga to the South Island’s West Coast.

Dr Fitt said driving a car is often associated with freedom, and the research explored whether driving an EV was associated with different kinds of freedom to driving a petrol or diesel car.

Driving an EV can require more planning, but it can also result in freedom from environmental guilt, freedom from having to visit petrol stations, freedom to drive a smooth, quiet, fast car, and freedom to spend more on accommodation (because travel is cheap).

Future holidaymakers could get away more because of the lower costs to their bank account and the environment, and could have more disposable income to spend when they get to their destination.

The pace of holiday travel was slower when driving an EV and retired participants described enjoying having the time to slow down, and younger participants reported enjoying taking time to explore. This might result in future generations choosing to travel more slowly, be more mindful, and focus more on experiences closer to home.

“Participants talked about some of the widely reported difficulties or limitations of EV travel including range, charging, and challenges associated with specialist holidays like those involving access to the backcountry or requiring towing.

“However, we also talked with participants about some experiences that have not been reported so widely to date.

“These included positive experiences such as those associated with being an early adopter of technology, feeling adventurous, and experiencing a sense of camaraderie with other EV drivers.

Most drove the more common (and cheaper) EVs and range anxiety (how long they could drive without charging the battery) was discussed, but they often noted it was a rare occurrence once they were used to their vehicle.

Participants described changes to how they drive after getting an EV.

“Driving an EV feels different to driving a petrol car and this can influence driving styles. Participants described usually driving more slowly and conservatively when driving an EV, but occasionally taking advantage of the (usually high) performance of their vehicle.

“All of these experiences might have implications for the future of New Zealand holidaymaking, including through impacts on the accommodation sector, on the dispersal of holidaymakers around the country, and on the holiday road toll.”