Your questions answered: Electric Cars

EVFAQs_Web1
EVFAQs_Mobile

The world is changing and, whether we like it or not, electric vehicles (EVs) are coming. There are still, however, many questions we regularly are asked on what it all means for Australia’s car owners and what the future brings.

We take a look at some of the most common questions we’ve received about EVs from our Members.

There are three main types of EVs: Battery EVs (BEVs) run entirely on electricity which is stored in the car’s battery packs. They’re recharged from either the power grid or through home energy capture (e.g. solar). In general, the larger the battery, the further the vehicle can travel on a single charge. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) also use rechargeable batteries, however these cars also possess a traditional internal combustion engine. Hybrids (HEVs) are not dissimilar to PHEVs, also utilising a combination of batteries and an internal combustion engine, however HEVs cannot be plugged in for charging and generally have smaller batteries that are charged by the engine and regenerative braking.

In Australia, Hybrids or HEVs start around $26,500 plus on-road costs, with Plug-in hybrids or PHEVs starting around $42,500 plus on-road costs. Full battery EVs or BEVs start around $47,500 plus on road costs but require no liquid fuel as they are powered exclusively by electricity. While EVs are currently more expensive to purchase than their internal combustion engine equivalents, projections show that purchase price parity could be achieved by around 2024.

Global studies show that once the initial price of an EV is removed, they’re far cheaper to run than a regular internal combustion engine car. In recent times in Australia, the average price of petrol has been around $1.50 per litre. To achieve the same travel distances, an equivalent electric vehicle would command just 33 cents if charged via the electricity grid.

Even lower running costs could be achieved by using home energy capture (e.g. solar) as opposed to purchasing electricity off the grid. There are further cost benefits with battery EVs or BEVs as they have far fewer moving parts and, therefore, require less maintenance. BEVs also do not require regular fluid changes.

Until recently, one of the biggest limitations of electric cars was range. Now, in Australia, you can buy electric cars that can travel more than 500km on a single charge. Because most Australians live in cities and have an average daily commute of around 35km, EVs have more than enough range for the vast majority of users without needing to recharge.

This varies depending on the type of car and charger. Plugging in at home using a regular wall socket is the slowest method, but an EV will reach full charge overnight. A public DC fast charger, however, can provide most EVs with 80 per cent capacity in around 30 minutes.

Australia no longer manufactures its own cars and, therefore, we rely on imports. As countries around the world move to electric vehicles, we must be prepared to do so as well. In the not too distant future, many car manufacturers will stop building cars with internal combustion engines. There’ll come a time when petrol and diesel cars are no longer imported into Australia, meaning we’ll only be able to buy electric cars.

Electric cars can be very fast as their torque is delivered almost instantly. Way back in 1899, an electric car broke the 100km/h speed barrier with a top speed of 105km/h. Today, the Hyundai Kona EV can accelerate as fast as its turbo-petrol equivalent, and the Tesla Model S can do 0-100km/h in 2.5 seconds – much faster than most supercars.

There are a range of free websites and apps including PlugShare that can be used to find alternative public charging stations near you.

Range anxiety refers to a driver’s concern that he or she won’t have enough charge to get home or to the next charging station. With better batteries delivering increased range and more public electric chargers being installed, this is becoming less of a problem.

The NRMA is currently rolling out a network of more than 60 public fast chargers in partnership with the NSW Government. Using an NRMA fast charger is as simple as turning off your car, plugging the supplied cable into the socket, and pushing the blue button to start charging. For most electric vehicles, an 80 per cent charge takes about 30 minutes.

Recent surveys in Australia say 65 per cent of motorists would consider buying an EV if a network of public charging stations was available. Australia is lagging far behind the rest of the world in building EV infrastructure, and we need to catch up quickly. The NRMA has invested $10 million to install a network of 40 charging stations at key locations around NSW and the ACT. But it’s not enough. Australia needs federal, state and local governments to help install EV chargers and ensure the stability of our power grid so we’re ready for the future.

In 2018, 2,284 electric vehicles (excluding hybrids) were sold in Australia, representing a 67 per cent increase from the previous year. In 2019, 6,718 electric vehicles were sold, again excluding hybrids.

Despite the impacts of COVID-19, in the first six months of 2020, electric vehicle sales have increased 56 per cent while the overall market dropped 24 per cent compared to the same period the previous year. While EVs currently make up less than 1 per cent of total vehicle sales in Australia, the arrival of new models in 2020 should see demand continue to increase.

The biggest-selling vehicle in Australia is the Toyota HiLux, followed by the Ford Ranger. Tradies and farmers need their utes and their favourite petrol and diesel iterations aren’t going away any time soon. But, within a few years, all the big carmakers will have electric versions of popular workhorses.

Ford, GM, Toyota, Great Wall and other manufacturers are currently working on progressing electric utes. Smaller manufacturers such as Rivian are also investing in electrifying the ute. Rivian’s R1T ute has been confirmed for Australia and is proposed as a fast and strong ute with a 350mm ground clearance that can tow 4,500kg and travel for more than 600km on a single charge.

Australians will always have access to large, fast and safe vehicles, it’s just that in the future they will be powered by electricity.

A growing number of jurisdictions have announced plans to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars:

- The UK will ban petrol, diesel and hybrid car sales by 2035.

- France will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

- Norway, which has the highest penetration of EVs in the world, will ban the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2025.

- The Netherlands will ban petrol, diesel and hybrid car sales by 2030.

- Israel will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

- More than 10 states in the USA will ban petrol and diesel sales between 2030 and 2040.

In addition, many cities and territories around the world are introducing electric buses into their public transport networks.

The world’s major automotive manufacturers are investing more than $100 billion to support the transition away from liquid fuel cars to low or zero-emission vehicles.

Many brands have openly discussed the end of petrol and diesel, including Volvo, Mercedes and The Volkswagen Group – the world’s largest car manufacturer. Volvo has already ceased the sale of petrol-only cars, and Mercedes has now stopped development of petrol and diesel engines, switching focus and investment to electric.

Even General Motors, well known for their American muscle cars, see a fully electric future, with the development of new electric vehicle architecture to underpin future electric models. Toyota, Australia’s largest car supplier, expects more than half of its sales to be electric by 2025.

Australia has the highest emissions per capita in the OECD and is also one of the only developed nations in the world that doesn’t have a carbon emissions scheme. Many cars on our roads produce more pollution than similar cars in other developed nations.

An average new liquid fuel car emits around 185g CO2/km. An average new EV, however, is responsible for around 98g CO2/km, which is better for the environment. Reduced tailpipe emissions, particularly in urban areas, could also support better health standards.

An important consideration for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure is the source of electricity used to power vehicles. Analysis across all states and territories in Australia shows that an average electric vehicle charged from the grid in 2016 emitted less than an average internal combustion engine vehicle, except in Victoria, where it’s only slightly higher. Australia’s vehicle emissions are at a record high and electric car technology will substantially reduce our carbon footprint.

- EVs are currently quite expensive to buy.

- Some EVs have a shorter travel range than their combustion engine equivalent.

- Electricity purchased from the grid for charging isn’t free.

- EVs take longer to ‘fill up’ or charge.

- Currently, the number of public chargers is limited.

- Going electric would improve national security by eliminating 16 million barrels of imported oil per annum by 2030, which Australia currently relies on for our economic stability.
- The environmental benefits (if cumulative CO2 emissions can be reduced by 18 megatonnes by 2030) are the equivalent of taking eight million petrol vehicles off the road.
- Lithium is a prime component of EV batteries and Australia has abundant reserves of lithium. As EV numbers grow in coming years, it will open up major export and employment opportunities in this industry.
- You’ll never have to visit a service station again.
- Electric cars are quieter and inherently pleasant to drive, with performance 
as good as or better than regular petrol cars.

We're building one of Australia's largest electric vehicle charging networks

So you can keep moving, long into the future