The green behind the grey.


Byline: Alison Houston

MARGARET McDonald is a pioneer of sorts - one of a relative handful of Australians who own fully electric cars.

An RMIT ABC Fact Check report in June found just 0.2per cent of new cars sold in Australia are electric and we have the lowest sale rates of any developed OECD country.

Concerned about the environmental future for her children and grandchildren, and inspired by attending last year's Sydney's Antidote festival of ideas, action and change, Margaret, from Erina on NSW's Central Coast, took delivery of her new Hyundai Kona in August.

She has also installed solar panels in her home and moved to a vegetarian diet three days a week in order to reduce her carbon footprint.

The 74-year-old also demonstrated at the school climate change protest in The Domain, has reduced her plane travel and become more aware of recycling.

That includes never buying bottled water and rejecting takeaway coffee unless she has her 'keep cup' with her.

"I just think about my grandchildren and what an awful thing we are leaving for them," Margaret said.

With too many politicians having ignored the environmental consequences of fossil fuel reliance and the need to invest in alternatives, she said she believed it was up to every individual to do what they could.

Recognising the prudence of waiting until the cost of electric cars came down and there was greater infrastructure available, Margaret nevertheless decided that with limited driving years ahead, and change unlikely until more people purchase the cars, she would take the step to electric.

"I feel a little glow when I go out, knowing I am not causing any pollution," Margaret said.

And she allows herself the occasional snigger as she watches the rising petrol prices to which she is now completely immune.

Margaret also is electricity bill-free, with the 20 solar panels she has installed in her home providing three times more electricity than she uses, and contributing back to the grid.

But she admits, the initial outlay for both the panels and the car were significant, and a lot more planning is required to travel long distances to ensure a suitable recharging stop is available.

Margaret said her SUV-style Kona was about $65,000, but has a far greater range (450km) than the smaller alternative Ioniq (230km).

With a charger installed in her garage, she has not had a problem getting around the Coast - recharging only twice in five weeks - but decided in September to test out a longer...

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