Feeling green after seeing Tristan's electric car

GREEN FUEL: Pastor Tristan Merkel with his hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander. Photo: TRACY SORENSEN
GREEN FUEL: Pastor Tristan Merkel with his hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander. Photo: TRACY SORENSEN

AT lunchtime on Thursday I popped over to check out Presbyterian Pastor Tristan Merkel’s hybrid electric/petrol car.

The pastor is one of Bathurst’s early adopters of electric or part-electric cars. There are already a few here, but we can soon expect to have many more of these cars on our roads.

According to a January report by the Reuters newsagency, 2017 is set to be the year the whole world makes a decisive move in the direction of electric vehicles.

Pastor Merkel’s car is a typical family SUV, a Mitsubishi Outlander, except that it has two motors, one at the front and one at the rear and a battery pack in the chassis.

On full charge, it does 50 kilometres of pure electric driving, which is perfect for just running around town.

It’s only when he needs to drive to Sydney or out west that he switches to the internal combustion engine.

The car has a 12 kilowatt hour battery, nine kilowatts of which is usable.

It costs between $1 and $2 to charge it up. He plugs the car into a normal-looking electric power point overnight while he sleeps.

He is subscribed to a green energy supplier, so the electricity coming through the power cord is using renewable energy sources.

The car was bought second hand (although it is still quite new) for about as much as a conventional new Mitsubishi outlander. Using electric power to get around town, wear and tear on the motor is minimal.

When I asked Pastor Merkel why he decided to go for this sort of car, he said he was motivated by his Christian beliefs: doing his bit for the environment so as to protect God’s creation.

But it was also a matter of supporting the science of climate change, “which is pretty alarming”.

And then there’s a matter of pure economics: “I just save tons as far as fuel costs go.”

I just save tons as far as fuel costs go.

Tristan Merkel

We have a way to go, but the roads are all leading in the same direction. The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.

Just as the cathode ray tube that gave us bulky TVs and computer screens have given way to flat screens, the burbling sound of polluting petrol-driven vehicles is now giving way to the whisper-quietness of electric cars that can be powered by renewable energy. Our planet will thank us for it.

Tracy Sorensen is president of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. Visit www.bccan.org.au