They’re driving us crazy

By: Daniel Hutchinson

I’m getting a few mixed messages from the people making all the important decisions.

For starters fossil fuel burning cars are bad – they contribute to the warming of the planet. All the good scientists agree the planet is warming and the sea is rising.

So, we should all be driving electric cars, right? Of course!

The Government is so certain of this, it announced plans this week to penalise importers of big old fossil cars with thousands of dollars of new fees and give that money to people who buy electric cars.

New Zealand has lots of renewable energy but not enough to power everything. Renewable energy makes up about 80-85 per cent.

Don’t worry though, Huntly Power Station still has its coal fired power generation on standby in case we do run out. That usually happens in dry years and in years when we have a million electric cars.

Gas is far better but we can’t talk about that without talking about Taranaki and Jacinda mania.

Shock treatment

It’s a moot point anyway because although they want you to buy an electric car, they don’t want you to drive it. The Government is cancelling the new roads and building cycle lanes instead. Your electric car will be useless on a road that hasn’t been built yet. You’ll need a big, stinky 4WD for that.

You can’t drive a car on a historic road because everyone else is already there.

You will sit there so long in traffic that even the simple act of listening to Ed Sheeran will cause the lakes to run dry and the polar ice caps to melt.

What you can do is go for a short drive in the country in your electric car.

Don’t stray too far though or someone in a fossil car will have to come and get you. And that is taxing - emotionally, environmentally and financially.

So, just to recap, driving electric cars is good and bad and impossible. It is good because it is better than fossil cars but bad because it is still a car. Sitting in a safe, comfy, warm car with the music playing feels good but it is very, very bad.

Some people get massive brownie points for transporting colleagues and friends to work. If you do this in an electric vehicle you are something special. Squeeze an extra person in the middle seat, at the back, and you will reach the very pinnacle of human enlightenment.

If everyone started and finished at the same time, this could actually work.

The other options

Buses are great but you still have to get to the bus. Sometimes you can catch a bus to another bus but the best thing to do is to get a fold-up electric scooter. You will also need some good quality, high-visibility wet weather gear, a helmet and comprehensive medical insurance. Take a chair too, and a good book and a cut lunch in case the bus doesn’t arrive.

This can be a little impractical so, ironically, some buses have become the single most polluting form of transport there is. Three people riding a huge diesel-spewing behemoth in a tortuous, indirect route around town is not exactly the most efficient form of transport.

But it’s a cool concept.

Electric scooters are good, right?

Owning a scooter is okay but renting a scooter is irritating to other people and will give you a reputation for being irresponsible. Tauranga City Council certainly has no plans to allow this in the foreseeable future.

There is a genuine public fear of rented e-scooters, particularly from people who dabble in the ancient art of walking.

They are an accident waiting to happen because they are silent like a runner and just as fast. This triggers a flight or fight response in the humble biped.

What about cycling?

Cycling is good for fit people and a useful experiment for those trying to make better life choices. They are not great for long journeys, not great around larger vehicles, not great around pedestrians or in wet weather. And they are not as cool as an electric skateboard.

Motorised skateboards are awesome but really dangerous for uncoordinated people. They fall into the same broad family as e-scooters, segways and those weird, single-wheel motorised things.

So I don’t really know what to do. I’d love an electric car and know the wise people really want me to buy one. At the moment it would just be a cool sound system on wheels.