19 August 2022

The economics of EVs is becoming the path of least resistance

| James Coleman
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Electric car charging

A different kind of filling up. Photo: James Coleman.

With petrol prices hovering around $2 a litre in Canberra and no end in sight to the cost-of-living pressures, many of us are wondering how on earth we will be able to keep a roof over our heads and bread on the table. But from the back of the room, a calm and steady ‘ahem’ emerges.

Electric vehicles don’t use petrol. There’s a saving of $150-odd a fortnight right there.

Maintenance is also just a matter of kicking the tyres and topping up the windscreen washer fluid.

READ ALSO Turning a new Leaf in the push to electric cars

Yes, you may need to replace the battery pack every 10 years or so, but 10 years is a long way away and battery technology is becoming more commonplace by the hour. And how much would you spend on fuel, oil and services each year, let alone over 10 years?

But if a $100 tank of petrol is a stretch, chances are a $65,000 EV will be too. But again, take away registration costs for two years, sell your current car in a smoking hot used-car market, throw in a $15,000 interest-free loan from the ACT Government and the upgrade might look more doable.

Rob Ogilvie is the managing director of ION DNA, Canberra’s dedicated EV dealership, and he says the expense hurdle is not as big as some imagine. He suggests anyone needing a second car right now “really look” at making the switch.

“If you buy a run-around town car using the $15,000 interest-free loan from the ACT Government, you may only be out of pocket a few grand. The savings in registration, maintenance, and fuel are well and truly going to pay that car off in no time, with benefits.”

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So you’re in the driver’s seat and the dials tell you the car is indeed on, now what?

“We’ve all been beside those last-minute people who jump on the brakes,” Rob says.

“But what we’re finding with EV owners is that they generally drive better; they’re looking ahead more and being more proactive.”

This is because EVs are fitted with a regenerative braking system. The energy that would usually be lost in heat at the brake pads is instead diverted to the batteries.“It’s putting more power back into the battery system, it’s reducing brake wear substantially, and it’s giving you a far smoother ride,” Rob says.

“Driving an EV better is about becoming a smoother driver.”

READ ALSO Is the Porsche Taycan the electric vehicle for petrolheads, or plain sacrilege?

Many EVs can also be driven using just one pedal, capitalising on this regen system even more. In this case, merely lifting a foot off the accelerator is enough to slow the car down. Pull it all the way off and it will come to a halt. And all without the brake pads even looking up.

EV charging port

The Type 2 charging socket is the most common type used in Australia. Photo: James Coleman.

Like an internal combustion car, Rob says no one wants to run their EV flat.

“It’s bad for battery life. And you also try not to charge to 100 per cent all the time because that can hurt batteries too. You always try to keep a bit in your battery bank.”

He says the cheaper EVs such as the Nissan Leaf and MG ZS are more than happy to be charged from a normal 10 to 15 amp wall socket in the garage at home.

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For those EVs that can take a greater torrent of electricity, many owners opt to install a dedicated EV charging point in their garage, which offers faster (and neater) charging.

“Certainly, those building homes and offices at the moment should be running three-phase power into the garage or car park,” Rob says.

“It’s a cheap investment that will save a fortune later.”

The generic charging stations are supplied by Jet Charge

Chargefox wall-mounted charging boxes in an underground car park. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

More and more public charging stations are coming to the streets, but charging at home still remains the preferred option for around 70 to 90 per cent of owners as there’s no industry-standard socket.

EVIE Networks is the largest provider of the ACT’s public charging stations, followed by Chargefox. Both companies use the Type 2 or ‘Mennekes’ for AC power and CCS2 for DC. This is the most popular combination in Europe, where most of Australia’s EVs come from.

READ ALSO: ACT will need up to 1000 public EV chargers by 2030, says new outlook

Australia will likely continue down this path, but Rob says it’s more of a “vibe” at the moment than a certainty, while also offering the Type 1 and CHAdeMO sockets used by Japanese EVs.

At the end of the day, he compares the ease of owning an EV to a smartphone.

“It’s really just about managing things.”

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There is something very ironic about how the same climate denying complainers who wont be around to experience the worst parts of climate change also wont be around to experience the best parts of the electric vehicle revolution. At least they have something else to complain about in the short-term!

Capital Retro8:48 pm 22 Aug 22

Do you have any evidence to support that claim?

The concept of borrowing $15,000 (int free), to buy a car is a poor financial decision. Cars are a depreciating asset and with questions over the life of batteries, I would suggest that putting panels (or more panels) on your roof, might be a better long-term investment.

Recently, there was an article in a camping magazine written by a Kona EV owner who discovered after fitting a tow bar to his car to tow a tear-drop trailer, that, unlike the petrol version, the EV had a zero kg tow rating and towing. Even towing a tear-drop, would void his warranty, his car and third-party insurance. His camping is now limited to using a tent.

EVs have limitations. They are not the answer to every motoring need. I like the concept of EVs, but Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries are not the future. The world of EVs might take a step forward when Solid State Batteries become the standard. That’s when they’ll get my attention.

Yes they do have their limitations. It is due to the fact that they are a new technology that have been on the market for less than a decade.

How long do you think it took ICE vehicles to surpass the established technology of the day in every practical measure?

Complain about EVs all you want. The change is coming. As for the Kona not being able to tow – Hopefully more ambitious policies to support EV uptake will incentivise companies to supply their more capable towing vehicles to Australia sooner rather than later. I’m sure the Kona owner who failed to do their research properly would have much less to cry about in an electric RAM


HiddenDragon7:58 pm 20 Aug 22

It’s all OK, Chris Bowen is going to use fuel efficiency standards (which is absolutely not a broken promise or a carbon tax by stealth, it was just a pre-election silence that wasn’t as meaningful as some people thought) to force those naughty global car manufacturers to send their best and cheapest EVs to a small market which is at the end of international trade routes and which (unlike 9 of the top 10 car-buying countries) drives on the left hand side of the road.

Nothing could possibly go wrong with this genius plan, and there is no risk at all that ‘Straya will remain an afterthought for EV manufacturers and just end up paying more for ICE vehicles – but even larger interest free loans and tax concessions might come in handy, just in case…..

Petrol prices have been coming down. When the EV fad takes off in other parts of the world oil demand will fall and electricity prices skyrocket. Always zig when others zag.

Capital Retro12:19 pm 20 Aug 22

Exactly, Sam.

There is no “supply and demand” problem with petroleum – it’s simply gouging that is giving us heart-ache at the pump at the moment.

If there is even a hint that EVs may threaten the trillions of dollars that are already invested in the petroleum powered motor industry OPEC will slash the price of petrol overnight and EVs will become history exhibits in museums and collectors sheds.

Sam what do you mean when it takes off in other parts of the world? It already has!

UK 20% of all vehicles sold last year were electric.

EU 13%, but countries like Germany 26%

Norway 86%

Sweden 45%

China 15%

Australia 2%

I did a trip to the UK and France a few months ago and I was blown away by how far behind we are in Australia when it comes to EV’s. Central London has charging points everywhere including on lamp posts this despite infrastructure being old and difficult to upgrade. And the variety of models was an eye opener. More or less and mass produced brand you could think of was available in electric. Paris similar.

So really it ain’t no fad. Problem is Australia is just so far behind thanks mostly to posters like Capital who are in denial. EV’s are now mainstream and manufacturers are slowly headed that way. .

But will agree one thing with him though current fuel price is gouging and market manipulation.

You have your haed buried in the sand if you think EVs are a fad. Just about every major car manufactured in the world is moving as fast as possible away from fossil fuled vehciles into EVs. We will follow suit, whatever you might think. and a good thing too i might add.

Matthew Driver10:54 pm 20 Aug 22

Your assuming the benefits of driving an EV are only to avoid high fuel costs. That’s one great reason but even if petrol was $0.35 a litre (the cost to run an EV over the same distance), I wouldn’t switch back to petrol.
Fossil fuel fumes don’t smell not nice, cause cancer and omit CO2.
Petrol and diesel cars have really crap acceleration, even high end cars. My base model EV does 0 to 100km/h in 5.8seconds.
I can charge at home. No need to visit a service station for city driving.
EV are much quieter the ICE cars.
There are all the tech that come with some T branded EV’s that you will roll your eyes at.
But my point is the petroleum industry can’t kill the EV industry buy dropping prices. Legacy auto is the walking dead. They just don’t know it yet.

Global auto makers don’t invest hundreds of $$ billions in technology fads. They invest in successful new technologies that disrupt old obsolete technologies, which is precisely what’s happening with the ICE-EV transition.

There is zero evidence that EVs will cause electricity price inflation, and plenty of evidence that EVs at scale will assist stabilisation of electricity supply & price.

Capital Retro9:17 am 22 Aug 22

Careful with that use of the label “denial”, JC.

The only reason that EV’s are getting traction in the countries you nominated is because they are massively subsidized and to increase their market share the subsidies will have to continually increased. That isn’t sustainable.

Capital Retro10:05 am 22 Aug 22

That’s absolute rubbish, DJ and contradictory because EVs are a fad that is on life support thanks to virtue signaling politicians and unelected global think tanks who are subsidising not only EV production costs but their “thrill-seeking 0-100kmh in 4 seconds” purchasers.

I’ll give you some examples.

One, right here in the ACT, a fad, marketed as a “successful new technology” called “A Better Place” (do some Googling) which cost us millions of dollars to make a couple of unaccountable virtue signaling politicians and public servants feel good.

And globally what happened when Australia used to manufacture motor vehicles. The then current model Ford Falcon at any given was actually the previous Falcon made in North America and the previous Australian model was concurrently made in South America. It’s all about recouping the the massive investment cost of dies which press the sheet steel to make the shell of the car.

I am currently considering one but you really have to go hunting for info on cost to run, cost to replace batteries after x years; the availability of charging stations seems to be problematic also.

If only there was a website with reliable (real world) information on the pros, cons, costs etc.

I like the idea but right now it seems like a blind leap of faith.

EVangelism is strong with this one. James suggests, without even a hint of irony, cost of living concerns can be solved by spending $65,000 on a new car. Then suggests replacing the battery pack after 10 years is of little concern.

Plugging an EV into a standard household charger is like plugging a big extra house into the electricity grid. The charger uses about 2.4 kilowatts of electricity per hour while it is charging, while the average household uses 41 kilowatts per day, or 1.7 kilowatts per hour. A fast charger will use up to 17 kilowatts per hour – which is like adding another ten houses to the grid! If EVs become common, the electricity grid will not cope, particularly as most EVs are charged when the driver gets home from work, which is also the peak time for electricity consumption.

Matthew Driver6:55 pm 20 Aug 22

I charge my EV at home using a 7.2kW charger. I use about 40kWh ($7.60) a week to run the car. This equates to about a 20% increase in my household electricity usage. This much less than adding a ducted air-con system. You have not provided any evidence that the grid will not cope. Further more there are no home charging system that use 17kW, this make me realise you are talking nonsense and have no fundamental understand of the topic.

Oh? One of us can do arithmetic. Your 7.2 KW charger uses 7.2/1.7 = almost 4 times the power of an average home while it’s charging. Rather like adding an extra 4 houses to the grid. You can do your own research on whether the grid can support that extra load if widely adopted (it can’t). Furthermore, a 3 phase level 2 home charger can provide up to 22 kilowatts of power, which makes me realise that YOU are talking nonsense. Troll.

Don’t buy an EV with Lithium-ion batteries, rather look for one with Lithium-phosphate (no thermal runaway). Look up The electric Viking on Youtube. Melbourne based fellow. Posts numerous vids about EVs and new technologies, what’s available, what’s coming.

And while you are at it check out Hydrogen Fuel Cell EVs – A far superior technology in my opinion, but no one is giving them any air time.

Capital Retro4:06 pm 20 Aug 22

But the ACT Labor/Green government is giving the lighter than air lobby plenty of money so who cares about “air time”?

Matthew Driver10:22 pm 20 Aug 22

Yeah, because the fuel cost for hydrogen is three times more expensive than the cost of battery electric. I own a battery electric car, do you own a hydrogen fuel cell car? If not, why not?

Matthew Driver10:29 pm 20 Aug 22

Lithium-phosphate or LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery cells are a variety of Lithium-Ion. But I agree with you, LFP cells are awesome. The current Tesla 3 and Y RWD models all use LFP cells. Can be charge to 100% on a daily basis and will have a very long life. My Model 3 SR+ 2020 doesn’t have LFP cells, I wish it did but that’s life. Electric Viking is a subject expert.

Hi notthemama – the biggest problem I see with EVs is that the battery technology is advancing so fast. That $75k car you buy today with a 450km WLTP range today will be overshadowed by the $50k car in 5 years time with a 800km WLTP range. What do you think you are going to get for a trade-in with $75k car with depleted range? Zip. But that’s the same with an ICE vehicle you say. Yes, but a new ICE econobox runabout is not going to cost you $75k.
If you are in the market for an EV, go for it, but if you already own, or have just bought a new ICE vehicle, I can’t see the economics in it.

somehow if a person is struggling to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table, even a couple of grand on an EV will still be too much.

these articles about the benefits of an EV are getting more ridiculous.

I have my dream car and have no intention of ever spending another cent on buying another car and I’m sure there are others in the same boat.

By mid-late 20s ageing ICE vehicles will be a serious poverty trap for people on low incomes, and there will be an increasing market of good quality affordable 2nd hand EVs coming through government & private fleets.

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