We buy 64 utes for every EV; I wonder why?

Kiwis tow all sorts of stupid things to the bach!

Todd Muller MP, in a recent Sookbook post, asks how we could increase the uptake of hybrid and electric cars. It’s simple Todd; only two things need to be done. Make them so cheap that they are almost free, and make sure they can tow your boat from Auckland to the Bay of Islands on one charge.

Mr Muller is your National MP for the Bay of Plenty, and as such, he will be as cognisant of the issue as anyone, as after all, the Bay of Plenty is one of the places that get inundated with holidaymakers at this time of the year.

He will have seen the convoys of utes and SUVs towing all manner of boats, caravans, and trailers loaded with kayaks, bikes and tents. He may also have noticed that, although there may be one or two hybrids amongst those tow cars (although their meagre 30 odd kilometre normal electric-only range will have been trashed by the end of the driveway with the caravan on), the usual tow car suspect will be either the ubiquitous double-cab, or a lovely, comfy SUV.

His musings have come about because he seems to read one of those other websites that had a story on why we as New Zealanders buy around 64 utes for every single electric vehicle.

The story is full of interesting facts and a few graphs with cherry-picked statistics showing how dirty and gas guzzling those filthy SUVs, utes etc are. (Sorry for the fuzzy picture!) quote.


But SUV emissions are still significantly higher than those for ordinary passenger cars.

Newsroom end quote.

Unfortunately, the same graph could also show you that the average output of carbon dioxide of current SUVs is now at the same level that passenger cars were in 2010. Or that the average reduction of CO2 emission within the light vehicle fleet from 2006 to 2017 is 39%.

But EVs are getting better, I hear the Melons cry. Well of course they are. There wouldn’t be much point in making new ones if they were worse than the last model they put out! But seriously, you just can’t buy an electric vehicle that cuts the mustard when it comes to being a practical, everyday vehicle for all the sorts of things that we Kiwis get up to.

My neighbour has a Tesla. He loves it. He can drive from his house in Auckland up to his bach at Mangawhai and all the way home again without charging it at the bach, unless he wants to use it up there of course. He even has a personalised plate that pokes fun at the use of oil, but if he wanted to tow a boat up, he’d have no option.

By all accounts you can actually get a tow package for your Tesla. They make a great tow car apparently, and you can tow up to 2270kg, so they are even reasonably well spec’d in that regard, well for a car anyway. The problem is, there is no way on earth that he would even make it to Mangawhai if he were towing a boat. There are all those annoying hills you see.

I found a YouTube video where a chap in Florida takes a look at how the anticipated milage in his Tesla drops from a usual 212 miles (340kms) to a measly 70 odd miles, (112kms) on his flat tow to the beach. Hills make it even worse so my neighbour’s holiday drive of 108kms on hilly, congested roads simply isn’t going to happen.

The good news is that many car companies are working on a solution. It seems that by 2022 Americans should be able to buy a pretty cool fully electric ute, the Rivian TR1. I like the look of it and if it really has a range anywhere near the stated 640 km and 4WD, it will be a winner, but even then, only if it is cheap enough compared to your run-of-the-mill Ranger, Colorado or Isuzu ute.

Rivian RT1, 0-100 in 3 secs, 4wd and a usable range

So Todd, in the mean time, don’t expect to see a bunch of Nissan Leafs and I3s clogging up the trailer park at the boat ramp. There’s no room for them as we still love our big gas guzzling 4 by 4s and overspec’d SUVs.

Not an electric vehicle in sight. Photo credit: ExPFC, Whaleoil.

And don’t even start me on how electric vehicle battery packs and sea water get on together. You could push the car off the boat ramp into the sea and the fire still wouldn’t go out!

At least we aren’t yet at the point where JAG wants us all to be. I would hate to be stuck behind her through the Dome Valley as she pedals her way up the Holiday Highway on the way to her summer home.

JAG’s socialist utopia summer contrivance, just fit the baby seat to the bosun’s chair and she’ll be all set.