Driving electric with Natalie Bassingthwaighte


With electric cars predicted to make up 10 per cent of Australian car sales by 2020, Natalie Bassingthwaighte tells G why she wanted to be one of the first to own and drive the first 100 per cent electric Nissan.


Natalie Bassingthwaighte with the Nissan LEAF.

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So, what does it feel like to drive the Nissan LEAF?

"It's quite surreal. I think most people have no idea what it will feel like; you might imagine that it's going to be clunky, but I got in and accelerated, and... it just felt like I was gliding through the city. It's completely silent. It was almost like I was on skis. It was just so ridiculously smooth that I would describe it like velvet or silk. It was so easy to manoeuvre in and out of the city, which I love because I can't stand big clunky cars. But I definitely felt like I had a good handle on it, and it didn't feel out of control. You just have to try it to really feel it."

You're going to be one of Australia's first drivers of the car in a couple of weeks when it comes into Australia. What were the reasons why you decided to get this car?

"Yeah, I can't wait. The first thing for me was that it had zero emissions. It was hard to accept that was a fact, initially. When they said that it needs electricity I said, 'well that's not that environmentally friendly either', but if you go through Origin Energy Green Power it's 100 per cent clean, so that just blew my mind.

I didn't know what it was going to be like to drive, so it definitely wasn't how nice it is to drive that made me get it in the first place. Not only is it a breeze to drive it felt like a really positive step towards the future, which I really wanted to make for my family, and hopefully for my family's family."

What else do you like about it?

"Apart from being environmentally friendly, which is the biggest draw point for me, it does have fantastic gadgets and gizmos to make it stand out to other cars. It actually has more features than most cars on the market. Ones that you can even hook up to your smart phone. You can set your climate control in the morning before you even get up. You can look at your phone and if it's going to be cold the next day, you can set up the heating system so it can heat itself up before you get into the car - which I love because I'm from Melbourne, so it's perfect for me. And you can even set it to be cool in summer.

There's also solar panels on the back, which help run the stereo and air conditioning. And it's got no tailpipe which is really weird to see, but I think it's a really great design too as it's really modern. Plus, this is the first mass produced purpose-built 100 per cent electric car in Australia, so it's built purely as an electric car from the ground up."

Will you have a charge point for the car at your home?

"Yes, I'm going to have a charge point installed at home, so it's going to be very easy. They just set it up for me, I plug it in, and away I go. You get about 170 km in one battery charge so that's pretty good for me. The average Australian goes only about 80 km in a daily drive. But also, every Nissan dealership should have a charging station as well, and the network is just going to get bigger and bigger.

I didn't realise that electric cars are already taking over the world - but already worldwide it's huge. So hopefully Australia will really grasp the concept because we all want a better future. And this is just the beginning, it's great that Nissan has really started it off with this car."

The Nissan Leaf is available on the market from June and starts at $51,500 plus on road costs. For more information visit www.nissan.com.au