Last time we looked at the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) in the global market and how their popularity will inevitably bring change to motoring in Australia. Now is the time to check possible options for those entering the EV market, the benefits, and downsides.
Cost: Looking down the list of electric vehicles available to Australia there are none that could be considered truly ‘affordable’. Others are spectacularly expensive and much dearer in relative terms than the same models in other markets.
Australia’s cheapest EV is at present the Nissan Leaf which is cramped and basic but does come with an 8 Year battery warranty. One of those lists at around $53,000. Head for the compact SUV market and several contenders make a pitch for your money. Here, $60,000 buys a Hyundai Kona however these are subject to an international recall due to a battery issue.
Cheapest of Tesla’s offerings is the Model 3. These begin in the vicinity of $73,000 but top $100K if you want more power and a longer range between recharges. Heading back to where we began, Jaguar is making rapid progress with its I-Pace and despite costing $152,000 in luxury HSE trim, this Jag has more torque than a Long-Range Tesla Model X and is $15,000 cheaper.
In the USA where Tesla branded vehicles are made and to a large extent sold, their Model X costs US$79,990 (call it AUD110,000) before any haggling takes place. Here, the equivalent car costs $170,000 and they are in such short supply that dealers need to offer no purchase incentives at all.
While Australian buyers of every Tesla except the most basic of the Model 3s get slugged with Luxury Car Tax, they also do not receive anything resembling the US Government’s $7500 Electric Vehicle Tax Credit.
Benefits: At some point in an electric vehicle’s life, especially if the power to run it comes from a renewable source, your EV will begin doing some good for the planet. Until that time comes, the recompense for a considerable financial outlay will need to be quantified by simplicity, performance and the need for minimal maintenance.
Driving an EV is easy. Just engage the mode you prefer, push the accelerator pedal and it goes. Quickly. Big, dual-motor models like the Tesla S accelerate from 0-100km/h in about three seconds and match an Italian supercar in the mid-range. Top speed is restricted due to the tyres fitted to production cars but is said to exceed 320km/h.
There are no gears to change and in some EVs offer an Autopilot mode which uses cameras and sensors to avoid hazards and stay within marked lanes. Don’t doze off though, because the Autopilot won’t deal with every eventuality.
The EV braking system saves energy as well, turning the heat generated by the disc rotors into Kinetic Energy which can be added to the vehicle’s power reserves.
Range: This factor rarely rates a mention in Europe, the UK or even United States but it is an issue in Australia.
The distance an EV travels between recharges depends largely on how it is driven. However, a charged battery also won’t stay that way even if a vehicle sits and does nothing.
In use it depends on how often and hard the driver accelerates, how fast the vehicle travels, how much weight it carries and whether the air-conditioning is running. Outside temperature influences battery performance as well and how quickly the battery can be replenished.
Home charging, even when you have access to the latest generation of ‘fast’ battery chargers, takes hours to bring a battery from exhausted to fully charged. However, eight hours hooked to the 10-amp outlet in your garage should provide sufficient charge to meet tomorrow’s needs.
Maintenance & Hazards: Annual maintenance costs for an EV – depending on the distance it travels – will range from miniscule to moderate. With the electric motor helping slow the vehicle, brakes are used far less frequently than in a conventional car and tyres wear at a slower rate than in other vehicles of similar size.
Isolating the battery when the vehicle is being serviced or after a crash is a specialist job and finding a repair shop that knows its way around EV systems is important when choosing a car that is going to make major changes to your life.
Insurance: Insuring an electric vehicle should be no more daunting than a conventional model. At least, that’s the view taken by Enthusiast Insurance.
We look principally at how far the vehicle will travel each year, how securely it is kept when not in use and the traffic and claims histories of all its drivers.
Most importantly since these vehicles need to be repaired by specialists if damaged, Enthusiast allows clients to choose their own qualified repairer. To find out more and obtain a Quick Quote, visit www.enthusiast.com.au any time of day that is convenient to you.