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Man Charging an Electric Car

More sustainable vehicle choices other than Tesla – Here’s your ultimate guide on switching to Electric Cars

One of the most visible and exciting developments in sustainable living are electric cars, like those released by Tesla, and soon we will be seeing a lot more of them on the road. Electric cars have been around for decades before they were popularised by Tesla and now many others. However, there are still many questions that arise when talking about them. We are going to take a look at the most frequently asked questions, myths, and facts about electric vehicles.

What are electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles are cars and other vehicles that are powered by electricity instead of liquid fuels. They are further divided into different types depending on the amount of electricity they require to run. There are four main types of electric vehicles currently:

1. Battery electric vehicles:

Battery electric vehicles rely solely on electricity. This means that they do not require any liquid fuel in any capacity to run. Battery electric vehicles are also called “Plug-in” vehicles. Their batteries require an external outlet to charge.

2. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles:

Hybrid vehicles require a combination of both electricity and liquid fuel. They come with a traditional petrol-powered engine but can also be electrically charged using an external plug.

3. Fuel cell electric vehicles:

Instead of a battery, fuel cell electric vehicles use a fuel cell in combination with a supercapacitor or battery to run the electric motors. These vehicles usually use hydrogen as fuel and can travel a greater distance than battery electric vehicles.

4. Non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles:

Non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles come with a braking system that generates electricity which is then used to recharge the battery instead of an external plug. This process is known as ‘regenerative braking’ and is also used in all three electric vehicles mentioned above.

Other than Tesla, what electric cars are available in Australia?

According to a survey conducted by NRMA, about 65 per cent of motorists said they would be willing to switch to electric vehicles. In particular, they would switch if there were more public charging station networks available. The electric vehicle council Australia website shows there were at least thirty-three different models available across the country. Out of the thirty-three, 17 are plug-in hybrid vehicle models and 14 are battery electric vehicle models.

 

Women charging an electric car

 

Electric Vehicle currently available in Australia:

    • Audi e-Tron
    • BMW i3s
    • BMW X5 xDrive45e
    • BMW 330e
    • BMW 530e xDrive
    • BMW 745e
    • Hyundai Ioniq
    • Hyundai Kona
    • Jaguar I-Pace
    • Kia Niro
    • Range Rover PHEV
    • Mercedes-Benz A 250 e
    • Mercedes-Benz EQA
    • Mercedes-Benz EQC
    • Mercedes-Benz E 300 e
    • Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 e
    • Mercedes Benz C 300 e
    • MG HS PHEV
    • MG ZS EV
    • MINI Countryman
    • MINI Electric Hatch
    • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
    • Nissan Leaf
    • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
    • Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
    • Porsche Taycan
    • Tesla Model 3
    • Tesla Model S
    • Tesla Model X
    • Volvo XC40 Recharge
    • Volvo XC60 T8
    • Volvo XC90 T8
    • Volvo S60

A report by The Sydney Morning Herald says Australia is already on the verge of an electric car boom after a sharp jump in sales. For instance, most carmakers like Nissan, Mazda, Ford, General Motors, and others have each set a timeline to discontinue liquid fuel cars completely. Their plan is to manufacture 100 per cent of their vehicles as electrical in 10 to 20 years.

With a sudden rise in the demand and market of electric vehicles in Australia, many new models are due and they are worth waiting for. 

Electric Vehicle models launching soon in Australia:

    • Audi e-Tron S
    • Audi e-Tron GT
    • BMW iX3
    • BMW iX
    • Hyundai Ioniq 5
    • Kia e-Niro
    • Lexus UX300e
    • Mazda MX-30
    • Mercedes-Benz EQA
    • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV
    • Nissan Leaf e+
    • Nissan Qashqai
    • Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
    • Tesla Model S Plaid
    • Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric

How do electric vehicles work?

For decades, we have seen cars running exclusively on liquid fuels, such as petrol, that make use of internal combustion engines. Meanwhile, electric vehicles changed the industry when they were engineered to run on electricity and electric motors. These modern electric cars do not require a fuel tank to store diesel or petrol. Instead, they require batteries to store power or electricity.

In simple terms, an electric vehicle is just like our mobile phones or laptops. Similarly, it runs by plugging into a charging outlet and storing electricity from the grid. It contains rechargeable batteries that power the electric motors, which in turn run the vehicle. The average electric vehicle battery ranges in size from 30 kWh to 100kWh. The earliest models of electric vehicles came with lead-acid batteries. However, recent models have switched to lithium-ion batteries as they can store more energy.

Generally, electric vehicles have a much faster take-off than traditional vehicles. You can also get a great driving experience out of them. This is because the batteries are usually placed along the floor. This design makes the center of gravity of these cars low. As a result, they also feel lighter to drive compared to the other vehicles.

How does charging an electric vehicle work?

Just as you charge your mobile phone or any other device, you can plug your electric vehicle into a powerpoint! There are also a growing number of public charging stations. The car comes with a built-in charging cord, a lot like a vacuum cleaner. However, get your home wiring checked by an expert before you charge your electric vehicle to ensure that safety needs are met.

As convenient as this sounds, there are certain limitations when it comes to charging your electric vehicle with your regular home wall socket. For instance, you might need a garage to charge your car. And if you don’t have one, then you’ll need a powerful extension with a long cord. Also, take a look at your electricity bill and the different rates you are charged for energy used at different times of the day. By making an effort to charge your vehicle overnight or during off-peak hours you will lower your running costs.

Electric car charging stations

Your standard home wall socket also has the usual limit of 2.4kW. Most electric vehicles that have smaller batteries can be fully charged using a home wall socket overnight. However, a Tesla electric vehicle typically contains a 100kWh battery. The numbers say a Tesla would require more than forty hours to charge from empty to full. This example shows how charging time vary with each car and model.

If you want to speed up the charging process and time, you can get a dedicated home charging station installed in your garage, which typically ranges from 7kW to 11kW. This means the 100kWh Tesla battery could fully charge overnight.

 

Man having a coffee while charging a Tesla electric vehicle

 

So, what happens when you are taking a long drive to your favourite cafe, far from your home charging station? Thankfully you don’t have to worry about running out of charge. There are multiple AC and DC public charging stations available. More than 3000 public charging stations are available all across Australia at more than 1650 locations. So you can use one of these to charge your vehicle while you sip that exquisite latte.

Can you charge a non-tesla electric car at a Tesla charging station?

Tesla provides charging networks to Tesla cars and drivers without a membership fee. It bills the charging by the minute or per kWh for supercharging depending on the local laws. Tesla owners can now also access its new and Level 3 supercharge stations all to themselves.

Using adaptor cables, Tesla electric vehicles can also recharge their batteries at any electric vehicle charging station. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Currently, other electric vehicles can’t use Tesla supercharging stations.

Tesla was one of the very first manufacturers of long-range electric vehicles. There was no standard design for charging stations when the company started manufacturing these vehicles. The result is Tesla charging stations only work with Tesla electric vehicles, for the time being.

In a recent announcement of Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, said that they are in the process of making supercharger networks open to other electric vehicles. While he did not mention timeframe, he did state that in time Tesla superchargers will eventually be upgraded in all countries.

What is the performance like for electric vehicles?

A common misconception about electrical vehicles is that they might not be as fast as traditional cars. This might be due to the absence of a deep engine sound. But the truth is electric vehicles have a much faster take-off than your standard car giving them a little edge on typical daily use compared to traditional vehicles.

When you press the accelerator in a traditional vehicle, fuel begins to burn, which generates power and builds up as the car gains momentum and moves through gear changes. Meanwhile, electric vehicles deliver a near-instant torque, which delivers faster initial acceleration. This can feel quite strange at first, like that stomach-clenching feeling as a roller coaster goes over a big drop.

The experience of an electric car is noticeable during the take-off. Most electric vehicles compromise the weight and maximum possible speed. So they will take off faster, then top out, while that Ferrari may lag at the beginning, but it will continue up to 200km/h and beyond.

Of course, the top speed of electric vehicles are still going to exceed maximum allowable speed limits. So a Tesla and a Ferrari will both be just fine at 60 km/h. Learn more about car-related fines and how to avoid them.

Are electric vehicles better for the environment?

One of the main selling points of electric cars is the belief that they are kinder to the environment. However, many people are still skeptical about whether this is true, once the manufacturing of components like batteries and electricity generation is included. The short answer is yes. Electric vehicles are cleaner than traditional fuel-powered vehicles, according to a wide variety of research.

Mining of lithium for batteries requires huge amounts of water. However, researchers have found ways to recover lithium from water as the demand for batteries has improved. The real impact of these vehicles is in emissions.

Electric vehicles do not emit air pollutants or greenhouse gases. This means that if you have an electric vehicle, you can save about 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission every year.

To power the car, you will need to charge it. Therefore the source of that electricity is a consideration. About 82 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable sources. That amount is only about 24 per cent in Australia. Coal is the primary producer of the baseload in Australia. However, charging overnight, at off-peak times, means that the otherwise under-utilised baseload is put to good use. Also, if you have solar panels, you could use any excess production to charge during the day.

Are electric vehicles more cost-effective?

Many people like to compare the purchase costs of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. For instance, the cost of hybrid electric vehicles in Australia starts at around $26,500. While plug-in hybrids cost around $42,500. But if you opt for a full battery electric vehicle then the cost is around $47,500. The good news is “price parity” is expected to be achieved by 2024.

Electric vehicles are more expensive than liquid fuel-powered cars. But when it comes to fuel costs, they pay for themselves quickly.

Installing solar power systems at home can further lower the running cost for electric vehicles. Instead of buying power off the grid, you use the energy you capture from the sun. However, this would mean charging during daylight. On the brighter side, there are some cool ways that your vehicle can be used as a storage battery itself. The other benefits of electric vehicles include fewer moving parts and no regular fluid changes which mean low maintenance costs.

Is the government providing subsidies for electric vehicles in Australia?

The federal government does not presently provide incentives, such as those offered in other parts of the world to encourage take-up. However, there are some state-based incentives. A good explanation is the recent announcement by the Victorian government that they now offer a $3,000 subsidy for new electric vehicles. If you are thinking about buying an electric vehicle or a hybrid in Australia, we've got tips for buying from car dealerships. And to help you make your decision around affordability, these are some of the incentives that you access:

    • The Australian Capital Territory waives your stamp duty and provides free registration for electric vehicles. In addition, the state also offers interest-free loans up to $15,000.
    • Victoria exempts electric vehicles from the rate of ‘luxury vehicle’ stamp duty. Furthermore, they offer a yearly $100 registration discount.
    • In Queensland, only a 2 per cent rate of stamp duty is charged on electric vehicle purchases.
    • New South Wales also offers a registration discount.

Conclusion

The only major downside to buying a hybrid or electric vehicle is the extra upfront cost. However, due to increasing demand, the manufacturers, as well governments, are trying to get those prices down. This means more affordable electric vehicles are on the horizon.

If you ever had a problem with your electric vehicle, either with the batteries or performance, we can help you resolve the issue. In fact, if you have a problem with any vehicle at all. All you need to do is say the magic words 'Help Me Handle It'.