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Electric car evolution


The team at Terra Firma is pleased to say we know a super-intrepid, lovely lady who has been helping to build her own electric car.

Paul’s (Terra Firma’s CEO) sister is a school teacher in the South Island, but has also studied in Antarctica and fills her time with skiing, mountaineering and the like.

Hearing about her new project piqued our interest again in this industry – possibly a leap in sustainability and eco-friendliness was nearer than we thought. Since then, we’ve been checking out the motor sections of two major Auckland newspapers. If they’re to be believed, electric cars are a while away still and come with a myriad of compromises. 

Trish’s car is up and running and costing a massive $4.40 (approx. 200km) every time she fills her batteries if she has to pay for it. However, most of the time she is filling up from a wind power generator belonging to friends.


Flag Swamp School pupils (from left) Lucy-Marie Grant (5), Alice Clarke (6), Skye Rea (8, rear), Vakisha Still (8), Alice Smith (7), Ollie Rangi (5, front), Zane Grant (10), Trae Rangi (5) and Ruby-Louise Grant (8) are looking forward to learning about the environment by way of an electric car built by their teacher, Trisha Geraets. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON

The future is here and pupils at Flag Swamp School are living it by way of an electric car built by their teacher, Trisha Geraets.

Ms Geraets, of Waitati, has taken a novel approach to teaching her nine pupils about the environment by converting a 1999 Honda Insight hybrid into a fully electric vehicle.‘‘I had the opportunity and it was basically … walking the talk,” Ms Geraets said.

‘‘My conscience was nagging me about the high CO2 output I was responsible for…but I can now can drive past petrol stations, drive past cyclists and pedestrians knowing I’m not polluting their lungs.”

Ms Geraets spent six months converting the vehicle, taking out the motor, fuel tank, radiator and exhaust pipe, with friend Hagen Bruggemann in his garage. It was the third car Mr Bruggemann had converted to electric. It was certified, registered and warranted.

‘‘Its performance … is now better than it was as a hybrid. [It’s] about four times more efficient than its hybrid version,” she said.

The car, plugged into a standard wall socket, could be fully charged in about six hours and would travel about 180km at 100kmh before needing to be recharged.

It had been tested at Ruapuna Speedway, near Christchurch, against an original Honda Insight hybrid and beat it for maximum speed, Ms Geraets said.

Now the pupils were benefiting, she said. The car would be included in environmental education to do with renewable energy, clean transportation and science learning in the physical and natural worlds.

Pupil Skye Rea (8) said she liked the car as it was ‘‘really different”.

‘‘I like how it runs on energy … instead of petrol.”

Alice Smith (7) was also keen on the car: ‘‘It only takes a couple of hours to charge and it’s silent.”

Ms Geraets said it was worth the time and the cost, about $25,000, to convert the car.

‘‘I think it’s worth the effort as it allows me to contribute in my own small way to saving Earth’s health for future generations,” she said.


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