Your questioned answered: Electric Cars

Hyundai NRMA EV Car
Hyundai NRMA EV Car

The world is changing and, whether we like it or not, electric vehicles (EVs) are coming. There are still however, several 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. 

What types of electric cars are there?

There are three main types of EVs: Battery EVs (BEVs) run entirely on electric motors and batteries. They’re recharged from a power grid. In general, the larger the battery, the further the vehicle can go. Plug-in hybrids (PHVs) use a combination of rechargeable batteries, electric motors and an internal combustion engine. Hybrids (HEVs) use smaller batteries and an internal combustion engine. The batteries are charged by the engine or regenerative braking and petrol is used as a primary power source.

How much does an EV cost?

In Australia, EVs range in price from $44,490 to well over $100,000. Currently, they’re more expensive to buy than petrol/diesel cars. Bloomberg, a financial, data and media company, predicts electric cars could be cheaper than petrol cars by 2025 if volumes grow and the cost of lithium batteries falls. Other analysts believe the price of EVs will match liquid fuel cars as early as 2022.

Nissan LEAF EV

How much do they cost to run?

Global studies show that once the initial price of an EV is removed, they’re cheaper to run than a regular internal combustion engine car. In Australia, depending on the price of fuel, a car will cost about $16.50 per 100 kilometres. Depending on the cost of power, an EV will cost around $4.50 over the same distance. There are also substantial cost benefits to motorists because EVs require less maintenance. Internal combustion engines can have as many as 100 moving parts, while EVs have just a fraction of that number. Nor do they require regular fluid changes or have as many consumable parts such as clutches, oil filters and so on. The cost of recharging a battery is 3 cents per kilometre compared with 10 cents per kilometre for fuel. The costs are reduced even more if the battery is charged from domestic solar. In all, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimates that drivers would save $1700 a year in ownership costs by 2030. In other words, EVs cost more to purchase, but this is offset by lower running costs.

How far can electric vehicles travel on a single charge?

Until recently, one of the biggest limitations of electric cars was range. Now, in Australia, you can buy cars that can drive anything from 230km to more than 500km on a single charge. Because most Australians live in cities and have an average daily commute of 30-40km return, an EV has more than enough range to get to work and back and only be charged two or three times a week.

NRMA network charges Hunter wine region


How long does it take to charge an EV?

This varies depending on the type of car and the type of charger. Plugging in at home using a 240-volt socket is the slowest, but an EV will reach full charge overnight. A public DC fast charger, however, will get it to 80 per cent charge in about 40 to 50 minutes.

Do we really need EVs?

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 coming decades (or earlier), 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.

More frequently asked questions
Electric cars are very fast. With no gears to change, cars have almost instant acceleration. 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 – faster than some supercars.

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

The NRMA is currently rolling out a network of 40 chargers. Using an NRMA Tritium 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 40 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 2017, 2284 electric vehicles were sold in Australia, compared to around 1.1 million petrol and diesel new cars sold here every year. Globally, three million electric cars have been sold over the last two decades and Australia has one of the lowest uptakes of EVs in the developed world.

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.

Toyota will have an electric HiLux ready to launch within six years. And Rivian, a start-up company in the United States, is planning to start production on its R1T ute and intends to bring it to Australia. It’s fast, strong, can drive through metre-deep water and has a 360mm ground clearance. Best of all, it has a 650km range. China’s Great Wall Motors is also about to launch its first pure-electric dual-cab ute with a range of 500km, seven seats and the ability to wade through water off-road that’s 900mm deep.

So, while at the moment, EVs are primarily city cars, within a few years tough and strong work vehicles will be in the market.

A growing number of countries around the world have announced plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars, including:

- The UK Government, which has announced plans to halt the production of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. By 2050, all cars will need to have zero emissions.

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

- Norway, which has the highest penetration of EVs in the world, will only allow sales of 100 per cent electric or plug-in hybrids by 2025.

- The Netherlands is making 2030 the target for all new cars to be zero emissions.

- Germany will ban internal combustion engines from 2030.

- India aims to have EVs make up 100 per cent of new car sales by 2030.

- China will set annual EV sales targets starting in 2019 and is believed to be aiming for 100 per cent EVs by 2050.

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.

Volvo will stop making conventionally powered cars between 2019 and 2021 to focus on hybrids and EVs, including the launch of five fully electric cars. Toyota is on track to launch electric versions of all its models – including the HiLux ute – within six years and is aiming to sell 5.5 million electric cars a year by 2030.

The Hyundai Motor Group has a target of 38 new eco models 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 good for the environment and improves health, particularly in big cities.

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 expensive to buy.

- Most EVs have a limited battery range.

- Electricity isn’t free – you still have to pay your electricity bill every month.

- EVs takes too long to charge, from 40 minutes up to eight hours.

- Currently there are not enough chargers, so long car journeys can be problematic.

- 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.

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