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Family with an electric car

Electric vehicle myths

When it comes to electric vehicles, there’s all sorts of information flying around, and it isn’t always as accurate as it could be. Read on for some common examples you may encounter.

Charging electric vehicles takes forever

Incorrect. The technology around electric cars is changing fast and the time required to charge an electric car is falling just as quickly. If you are charging an electric vehicle at home with a residential charger, depending on the vehicle’s capacity, it should take six to eight hours to fully charge it — plug it in before you go to bed and you’ve got a fully charged car in the morning.

Matters get even faster when you look at public fast chargers, where an electric car (again depending on its capacity), can be fully charged in as little as three hours. Plug it in before you go to work, when you go shopping, or go to a sporting event, museum or movie, and by the time you’re done, your electric vehicle should be almost fully charged.

Ultra-rapid chargers can add 400 km of range in just 15 minutes, and it is important to note, these speeds are getting faster and faster as the technology improves.

Electric vehicles don’t have enough range for a large country like Australia

The technology may be changing (and improving) fast, but we’re not yet in a world where you can drive from Sydney to Perth on one charge. That said, you can’t do that on a single tank of gas either!

Currently, a typical electric vehicle has a battery range of around 480 km, but that is changing fast with newer models already being capable of 550 km.

How far will 550 km get you? Further than you might think — consider the following examples of each state or territory capital and where is within 550 km of there. Please note these distances are as the crow flies, not actual road distance, and are for illustrative purposes only.

  • Adelaide: Port Lincoln, Woomera, Broken Hill, Mildura, and Warrnambool.

  • Brisbane: Rockhampton, Roma, St George, Narrabri, and Forster.

  • Canberra: Taree, Sydney, Melbourne, Bendigo, and Nyngan.

  • Darwin: Kununurra, Daly Waters, Wilton, and Melville Island (ferry required).

  • Hobart: All of Tasmania.

  • Melbourne: Mildura, Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Bega, Launceston (ferry required!) and Mount Gambier.

  • Perth: Geraldton, Kalgoorlie (just!), Ravensthorpe, Albany, and Margaret River.

  • Sydney: Coffs Harbour, Narrabri, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, and Albury.

When you are weighing up driving range and electric vehicles, it is important to keep in mind how far you typically drive. An average Australian drives 38 km per day, and when you consider an electric vehicle can be charged at home, the range question becomes a bit of a red herring.

There are not enough charging stations in Australia

It is true that Australia’s electric car charging network is not as comprehensive as that of some other countries, but, like charging speed and range, this is changing fast. It is also important to remember that internationally, and despite their more comprehensive charging networks, some 80% of electric vehicle owners worldwide charge their cars at home.

Nevertheless, as pointed out above, Australia is big, and a single overnight charge is not going to get you everywhere. So if you are going to need to charge your electric car somewhere other than home, how hard is it?

Not as hard as you might think. A network of public charging stations is being established right across Australia and both private enterprise and state governments are investing heavily in charging infrastructure.

Charging stations can be found close to supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths, fast food outlets like McDonald's, public parks, swimming pools and even universities. Charging companies like PlugShare and Chargefox have maps and apps illustrating the growing number of charging locations.

Most importantly, remember that with an electric vehicle, and unlike a petrol car, you can charge it at home.

Electric vehicles are expensive to buy

True, they are more expensive to buy upfront than a conventional car, which makes for a great reason to rent one! Prices are expected to fall as demand and production continue to increase. The price of electric vehicle batteries are likewise expected to fall over time.

While they are more expensive to buy, electric vehicles are far cheaper to power. An electric vehicle is around 70% cheaper per kilometre to power than a conventional car, and this means an average electric vehicle driver will save AUD$1,600 in fuel costs over a year.

Electric vehicles are expensive to maintain

This is incorrect. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts — there are no spark plugs nor filters to replace, and no oil that needs changing — and these all contribute to lower maintenance costs. In general, an electric vehicle represents a saving of AUD$300 to $400 per year in maintenance versus a conventional car.

The one big difference is the battery, which can be costly to replace, but the cost of batteries are falling, and with most manufacturers offering a ten-year or 160,000 km warranty on batteries, chances are you’ll never be needing to pay to replace one. A vehicle battery is expected to last 15 years before requiring replacement.

Electric vehicles do not perform as well as a conventional car

Again, false. Electric vehicles are able to deliver full torque instantly which, in plain English, means they can accelerate faster than a conventional car.

Electric car batteries, which are quite heavy, are often positioned along the bottom of the vehicle, thus lowering the car’s centre of gravity. This translates into better cornering and general handling of the car, reducing the chances of a rollover in an accident.

Electric cars are as bad for the environment as conventional cars

Incorrect, on a number of counts.

For starters, electric vehicles have zero exhaust emissions.

Secondly, even though an electric car is charged with electricity (that is, after all, why it is called an electric car), many charging stations, like the ultra-rapid sites run by Chargefox, are backed by 100% green power.

Batteries, when they are replaced, can be recycled and repurposed.