Wagga Wagga mayor Greg Conkey says he is preparing to make a long distance road trip in the regional city’s newly acquired electric vehicle after being challenged to do so by a group of skeptical councillors apparently egged on by Murdoch media and talk-back radio.
Conkey agreed to the challenge after controversy over the purchase of the Hyundai Ioniq erupted at a City of Wagga Wagga council meeting on Monday, when councillors questioned the wisdom of the purchase, despite the fact that all of them agreed to it last year.
The councillors reportedly issued a motion requesting the mayor prove the electric vehicle is “fit for purpose” by driving the vehicle to Sydney.
According to talk back radio station 2GB, councillor Paul Funnell told Steve Price that the mayor had let “his ideology get in the way of pragmatism”.
“These virtue-signalling, climate emergency declaring people such as the mayor… have turned around and now they’ve bought this vehicle. That is not value for money.”
Funnell led the fight to block Conkey’s attempts to declare a “climate emergency”, and was forced to apologise after saying adults should be arrested for “child abuse” for taking children to climate change rallies.
Conkey has agreed to look at the trip to Sydney, despite pointing out that the Ioniq, with a range of just 230-280kms, is not designed for regular long distance trips. It was bought with the use of council staff in mind, and that involves much shorter travel times.
“Some of these reports were not entirely accurate and also put forward some misconceptions about the city’s new electric car,” Conkey says in a statement on the council’s website.
Although the vehicle purchased was only ever intended for travel within the town and to nearby centres, Conkey says he is now considering a trip to Sydney to prove the point that it is also suitable for longer distances.
“I was not present at the meeting when that decision was made. However, I have agreed to consider this request. I will plan a business trip to Sydney and will investigate when and how that happens with the assistance and advice of Council staff,” he says.
Wagga Wagga is about a 4.5 non-stop trip from Sydney (5+ hours if stopping for rests), and is about 460kms away. That’s likely within the range of most Tesla EVs and even the Hyundai Kona, but probably twice the range of the Ioniq.
Still, a route via Young and Bathurst, as suggested by A Better Route Planner (ABRP), shows that by charging at two NRMA fast-chargers for less than half an hour each stop, Conkey could in fact do the trip in just under 6 hours.
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