Phil, a retired avionics engineer, knows how to give a girl a good time. He loads up his electric Kona with the e-bike, mobility scooter (powered by SolaX), and Jackal and goes onto the beach! Gwen can ride along as he cycles, and then they settle down to play with the remote controlled fourby.
He takes electrification seriously. Not only does the solar on the roof of his house run everything in the house, but it also charged his car and all his garden equipment and toys (RC cars and a very good looking yacht). He has 3 kilowatts of solar on the roof. With a feed-in tariff (FiT) of 52 cents per kWh, it makes sense to sell it to the grid during the day and buy it back at night for 20 cents per kWh. The Kona is charged at home with an Evolution charger.
He has had his Kona EV for two and a half years, trading in his Toyota RAV4. He ordered it from a demo model and had to wait 6 months for it to arrive. Insurance on the Kona is less than on the RAV4.
Why an EV? It makes for good economics — comparing the cost of petrol with that of electricity. Add the low maintenance costs and the bonus of no emissions and it was an obvious choice.
It was a bit of an adventure replacing his 10 year old RAV4 with the Hyundai Kona. He went to a local dealer and the salesman wanted a $2000 deposit before Phil had even seen the car. The salesperson took his number but never rang back.
Travelling to the south side of Brisbane, Phil found a dealer with a demo model and went for a drive. They looked after Phil. Phil found he knew more about the car than the salesperson. He had to show him how to drive it. He introduced the salesperson to adaptive cruise control. When the traffic stopped ahead, there was a tense moment waiting for the Kona to slow down and stop. Phil ordered the $70000 car and then waited for 6 months for it to arrive.
Phil and his wife enjoy travelling in the Kona — they have done two trips to Townsville and another separate trip to Rockhampton. He reports great service for charging on the Queensland Electric Superhighway. Once we are able to cruise again, Phil is looking forward to getting away on one of the “Lawn Bowls Cruises” (bowlscruise.com) that he organizes.
There have been some issues with both the traction and the 12 volt battery. He expects to be getting the call to bring the Kona in for a new battery soon. This is due to manufacturing fault with the pouch batteries. Some anode tabs have been bent during construction, which leads to some cells shorting out.
After the latest software update, Phil took the Kona for display at the RACQ Motorfest. The bonnet left often and the 12 volt battery went flat. At home, after charging, if the car isn’t locked, the traction battery goes flat. The car has been checked and the service centre can’t find anything wrong.
Gwen’s Mobi scooter battery needed replacing and SolaX wanted $1000 for a new one. Phil thought “I can do better than that” and bought a welder from ebay. He spent $250 for a set of batteries and built his own pack. He is currently building a new pack so he can have a spare. The battery cells in the scooter are not as well designed as car cells — primarily used for vaping.
Making up the battery packs can be dangerous. If you are welding and one shorts out, you’re in big trouble. He was soldering away and dragged the solder wire over the terminals by accident — it instantly vaporized. He has a fire extinguisher standing by.
Looking around Phil’s well equipped workshop, I am impressed by what this man can do. He is heading into an all-electric future fully equipped to handle whatever comes his way.
All images by David Waterworth
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