The Australian media seems to be conflicted. Articles are being published that say EVs are only for young, wealthy techno nerds or spry boomers. Can you be too old to transition to an EV?
“I am coming down tomorrow with my 86-year-old neighbour. Would it be possible for him to get a ride around the block in an electric vehicle? Nancy and I took a spin at the Gayndah Orange Festival,” a connection named Paul said. Was it just a bucket list request, or was Billy thinking about getting himself an EV? Can you teach an old dog new tricks? As older people move into electric cars with driver assist technology, does it mean that they will be able to keep their driver’s licenses longer? Lots of questions for discussion.
So, we met Billy last week at the Coffee, Cake and EVs morning at the local Bracken Ridge Tavern (The BRT). My wife and I have been organising these mornings once a month for the past two years. We usually get between 20 and 30 people, with a wide range of ages, interests, and experience. Because we hold these informal sessions on Tuesday mornings, the majority of our attendees are retired, but we also get the self-employed and a few shift workers. (It is amazing how many people don’t work 9:00–5:00.
Paul and his wife (in their 70s) had been for a ride “around the block” in a Model S at the Gayndah Orange Festival, and had then gone home and enthused to their neighbour, Billy. Rado, the owner of the Model S, told me: “They knew a lot about EVs and they were pleasantly surprised by the smooth, quiet and fast ride in the Model S.” On Tuesday, Paul drove Billy the 86 km from Kilcoy to Bracken Ridge in Brisbane in his battered Mazda BT 50 ute to meet with us and fulfill his neighbour’s wish. “I used to ride a horse to school in the 1940s,” said Billy. “Now I am in an electric car.” Paul has been interested in solar and batteries for many years and has installed solar on several houses. An EV is the next step.
Not only did Paul and Billy get to go for a ride in a Model 3, but as they sipped coffee, they heard “read world” stories from EV drivers of a variety of ages and background experiences. We have a few retired electricians, and some from the auto industry — they have a wealth of knowledge.
The Model 3 Long Range owner who took them for a drive posted this comment: “It was good fun giving them a ride in my M3LR and answering all their questions. They seemed pretty happy with the car (especially the acceleration, range, sound system and high-tech wizardry). Always good to chat with people who want to know about EVs.” Paul responded: “David, Yesterday was the most enthusiastic group of people that Billy and I have ever been around. Thanks for all the advice. Cheers.”
I am about to turn 70 and sometimes find change difficult. I wondered if I was alone, and so I asked my Facebook communities to comment. I got some great responses. Of course, the most common response was — “define old.” I thought 75 was a reasonable guestimate. Although, there are young 75 year olds and old 75 year olds. One posted the comment, “If you’re not dead, and you can move, you’re not old!” Good point.
Some told me that having an EV (especially if you have solar on the roof) was a great “pension stretcher.” I know about that from personal experience. I tell people I have a petrol station on the roof. My car saves me about AU$4000 per year (petrol in Australia is $2.25 a litre). Quality of life improves when you are spending less on the car and more on your health and well-being.
Of course, there are the facetious comments about waiting for the technology to mature. At my age, you really don’t want to wait for Toyota to finally bring out it’s solid-state battery for a gazillion miles of range, or Nissan to release its new range of EVs by 2030 — I might be dead by then. Since my Tesla Model 3 is likely to outlast me, it could be the last car I need to buy. My 6-year-old grandson is already looking forward to driving it. Patience, Leon, Grandad will die eventually.
One correspondent said that over-75-year-olds should get a special senior discount. The used car market would benefit from all those cars coming from their deceased estates. One of our coffee morning friends bought his Tesla after using the free loaner available at his retirement village. He tells me he got “hooked.” Now that’s a great marketing opportunity. I wonder how many other “old people” enclaves have an EV to lend to their residents if needed?
My local library runs classes using the iPhone and iPad for the “oldies” and others in the community. I have suggested that I am willing to run a session on electric cars, but the powers that be are not interested. Carmakers have realised that it is difficult for some to transition from all those buttons and knobs to a screen, and this has led to a range of choices. The makers of the e-Corsa in the UK have even gone on record saying that they are making their electric cars look as similar to the ICE models as they can because that is what “their demographic is comfortable with.” Not everyone wants to drive their car through their iPad.
Some are worried about learning a new “tech thing.” Telling the curious that it is “just like getting a new phone” might not always help. Some people just don’t want to learn new tech. As our readers know, I drive a Tesla — lots of tech. But you don’t have to use it — you can just drive the car. We came from a 2014 Hyundai Sonata to a Tesla Model 3 and were amazed at how much more tech we had. However, most new ICE cars now have a fair bit of tech, too. A recent ad on TV shows a new owner playing with the summons on his ICE car.
There are those who just need to drive an EV to realise how simple it is. Familiarity reduces fear. Those who are nervous about the techy side can always get their teenage grandchildren to set up the WiFi or do the more mysterious parts. I am sure there are fairies behind the dash. Some EVs have to be returned to the dealer for software updates, so that’s one less thing to worry about. I still battle with the remotes for my DVD and have made the conscious decision to not own a mobile phone, so I understand.
Glen, now 79, shared the story of how he circumnavigated Australia in a converted 1950s MG back in 2011 — quite the adventure. You can read about it here. Some continue to enjoy exploring. Some don’t.
Like one of my correspondents said, I don’t miss going into the servo for petrol and a dose of hydrocarbons. It wasn’t until I started driving electric that I realised how much an ICE car (particularly the diesel-powered ones) stink. A bit like life after smoking.
Retiree Tom bought a fully electric BYD T3 van. His partner then insisted he go back to work to justify the expense. He said that driving electric was fun enough to keep working.
“An old man once saw my van charging at a public charging station and shouted, ‘What the fcuk is that‽’ The woman he was with explained it was an electric vehicle, and he went on to again angrily shout, ‘Why the hell would you want that‽’”
I will let Derek, 81 years young, have the last word: “My Tesla Model 3 […] has been an exceptional addition to my life. As someone who values staying up-to-date with modern technology and appreciates the importance of regular car updates, choosing the Tesla Model 3 was a no-brainer for me.
“What sets the Tesla Model 3 apart is that it represents the first well-thought-out bespoke electric vehicle that has been mass-produced. While other manufacturers are still playing catch-up, Tesla enjoys significant advantages. The simplicity of its design, with clean, flowing lines, immediately caught my eye. It’s a testament to Tesla’s commitment to aesthetics and functionality. The interior, too, is an embodiment of simplicity, and the ease with which it can be controlled from the central screen is truly remarkable.
“As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that my concentration has waned at times. This is where the Tesla’s safety features have truly shone. They have come to my aid on several occasions, providing an extra layer of security and peace of mind while on the road.
“I am extremely content with my Tesla Model 3, and I eagerly anticipate the prospect of upgrading in the future, health permitting. Tesla’s continuous innovation and commitment to excellence reassure me that my next Tesla will be even more remarkable than the one I currently cherish.
“Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share my thoughts on this remarkable vehicle. I believe that Tesla is not just a car; it represents a forward-thinking and sustainable future that I’m proud to be a part of.”
I don’t like paywalls. You don’t like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don’t like paywalls, and so we’ve decided to ditch ours.
Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It’s a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So …