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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”