It’s called Turtle Mode, and it’s a fun nightmare. If you already own an electric car, you probably know what I’m talking about. For the rest of us, let me explain.
Electric cars are the future, and there’s a lot to get used to. When you run out of gasoline in a conventional car, you’re stuck on the side of the road walking to your nearest gas station to grab more fossil fuels to fill up your pit, okay.
However, the electrical system has a different system for emergency situations: it is called tortoiseshell mode. When you’re too close to the vacuum, it just slows down and lets you limp to the nearest wall socket. But to get there, you must have ignored the nuclear grade warnings coming from the dashboard.
So, why do I call Turtle Mode a “fun nightmare”. Well, it’s fun in the sense that you no longer need to walk to the gas station. However, it is a nightmare because you will impede the crawling traffic along the road like wounded wild animals. Except here, all the wounded are your pride
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I went through all these fears when I traveled up and down New Zealand for 106 days, covering more than 9,000 km in a Hyundai Kona Electric, with about 450 km of range.
This summer, a record number of Kiwis will explore our beautiful country on top of an electric car – or are considering buying one – so here’s what I wish I knew before setting off on my grand adventure.
1) Can you really go on an electric vacation?
We have 93,000 km of massive roads in New Zealand – one of the longest per capita roads in the world.
If you’re behind the wheel of a new electric car, you’ll likely have a range of 300-500 km on a single charge.
Pitching on a 93,000-kilometre and 500-kilometre range sounds a bit daunting, but in my real-world experience, I wasn’t about to run out even on the longest days of driving on the West Coast. So, the first tip is: put your gasoline-filled doubts aside.
2) Plan for the future
There are more than 300 electric charging stations available to the public across the country, according to Waka Kutahi. But the actual number is much greater than this – I will explain shortly.
The largest provider is ChargeNet, with more than 250 fast charging stations across the country. As an electric vehicle owner, the first thing you need to do is set up a ChargeNet account, which will give you access to the network.
Every city and most small towns has a ChargeNet station – and the app will direct you to it. It even tells you if the station is already in use, which can be useful to save you time.
All major apps give you the ability to filter charging stations according to your plug type – important to make sure you’re running in the right place.
3) Plugshare is your friend
While ChargeNet provides reliable and fast charging, the number of chargers is much greater – and the best way to find them is with Plugshare.
This app (and website) has over 500 shipping sites listed, from campgrounds to hotels and even Airbnbs.
Just a warning, it can’t always be relied upon. You can come in, and the plugs don’t work.
4) fast and furious
If you’re on vacation, you don’t want to spend hours waiting for the car to charge – so fast charging is vital.
In the PlugShare app, you search for eco-friendly chargers, which are “high-powered”. If you use ChargeNet, almost all of their sites are fast 50kW stations, and they’ve also started installing “ultrafast” chargers, which provide a range of up to 400km in 15 minutes.
5) Free Shipping
There are also many places where you can ship for free, and PlugShare is the easiest way to find them. For example, Vector provides free express shipping throughout Auckland, and some power providers do the same in regional centers.
If you click on a site in the PlugShare app, it will bring up shipping costs – keep searching until you find a free site. It’s kind of like looking for them. But don’t forget…
6) Bring your own cable
Some of the free stations have minimal facilities (what can you expect, it’s free?!) and that means bringing your own fast charging cables, which came with the car when you purchased them.
7) Charge at your hotel
One of the most helpful tips I learned was to ask your hotel, hotel, or campground if you can charge overnight. Many of them didn’t have fast chargers, but were happy to plug them into a wall (like an iPhone). It’s slow, but should give you enough range for the next day as long as you don’t go too far.
Just remember your wall charging cable. Electric cars are still a novelty, and I’ve found that most people will do their best to help you find a plug and fill.
8) Shopping and Shipping
Many malls next to New World and Four Square stores have charging stations. So, by the time you’re done shopping, your car is complete. easy that way.
9) Get a backup
New electric cars have very advanced systems to ensure that they do not run out of charge; Our Hyundai had a big ball over a map showing us how far we could go and where the nearest charging station was. You’ll get plenty of warnings before it goes down.
If you rely on PlugShare to find your charger, don’t arrive with only a few kilometers left – sometimes chargers malfunction or are in use. Always have a backup plan if the first charger is faulty.
The advantage of using ChargeNet is that the website or app will tell you if there’s something wrong with the station or it’s in use, allowing you to plan ahead.
10) Don’t panic
I was worried when I first set off in an electric car. I imagined myself stuck on the side of the road calling a tow truck. However, the truth is that most new electric cars are packed with technology that makes it really difficult to run out of battery – you have to ignore a good deal of warnings.
But if the worst happens, just remember, everyone seems to be smiling when they see a turtle. Especially if it has four wheels.
more information: Brooke Sabine and Radha Engling traveled the length of New Zealand on a nationwide road trip at Stuff Travel in a new Hyundai Kona. Since the flight, the updated Kona Electric Series II has been launched with a range of 484 km from the real world on a single charge. For more information, see: hyundai.co.nz/suv/kona
The author’s journey was supported by Hyundai NZ.
A photo in an earlier version of this story was incorrectly commented as having been taken in Reefton rather than Murchison.