You know you’ve got a winner when even the tradies (tradespeople) are curious! Travelling down Coronation Drive in Brisbane, Chris and Sarah Jensen stopped at consecutive traffic lights in which they had impromptu conversations with a tradie. The first time Chris stopped at a red light in peak hour traffic, the tradie made the “wind down your window signal.” Chris has a seven-year-old Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV — so he really has to wind down the window manually.
Then the questions started: What is it? How far does it go? How long does it take to charge? The lights turned green — “see you at the next set of lights” and they were off. At the next set of lights, Chris had to park a bit further back in his lane to be able to answer the questions. Understandably, some of the commuters were annoyed. The tradie was pleased, he got his answers: It’s a Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV. It does 120 km on a full battery. It charges overnight just like my mobile phone. “That would meet my needs,” the tradie replied as the lights turned green again.
Chris bought the van, now nicknamed Evie, in June 2021 as a second-hand import from Japan because he wanted to go “green” in an economical way. It’s a van, so it is a good fit for his lifestyle — doing a bit of cycling, taking the dog on excursions, and of course, taking Mrs. J shopping. The Minicab replaced a Honda Jazz and is a daily driver for his work around the Brisbane suburbs.
Over time he has learnt what the car can and can’t do. Brisbane is quite a sprawling city, and there have been times when he has needed a quick top-up — but with the Queensland Electric Superhighway in place, it is easy to get one. The Minicab can handle a fast charge — 15 mins on CHAdeMO and she is ready to go. Most of his routes are similar and most of his driving is from home to work, so there is no need to plan his week-by-week driving. On a recent trip to Redcliffe (50 km from home), Chris charged from a 10 amp power point, which gave him 17 km of range per hour. He also carries with him an earth leakage protection switch and a type 2 charger. For longer trips, he has a camper van which the family uses for holidays.
The Minicab cost just under AUS$20,000 and was bought from an auction in Japan through an agent. The price included transportation to Australia, compliance, and registration. It has a few quirks — for example, the radio is Japanese; fine for the AM spectrum but not for the FM. Thankfully, the dash is in English. It is a low-tech, simple car. It has manual wind-down windows and no seat or steering wheel adjustment. The bench seat in the back lays back to give you cargo mode — useful for its old life as a delivery van. It also has sliding doors on both sides and extra-long storage space with the front passenger folded forward. In fact, Chris has found he can lie down in the back. Perhaps a Minicab concept camper van is in the works.
He does have some concerns about battery degradation. When the battery was new, it held enough charge to travel 160 km; now it is down to 120 km. At some point, Chris will have to make the decision to upgrade his battery — which currently costs $13,000 even with the trade-in of the old battery. It will, however, reduce Sarah’s range anxiety and increase her shopping radius by 100%. When the time comes, battery upgrades will be provided by: Oz Electric Vehicles.
Sarah loves the van. Her favourite saying to people who see the van for the first time is “if Mr Bean had a van, this would be it.” This is generally greeted by a heap of laughter and nodding agreement. She really does secretly like the van, though, and has enjoyed showing its capabilities at EV shows!
For now, the van is just fine for their needs, and has even got the tradies curious about the switch to electric.
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