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Tuesday / August 16.
HomemifeatureIs the Electric Car Finally Viable?

Is the Electric Car Finally Viable?

Electric cars are beginning to rule the roads in Europe and the US, but not so much in Australia. Buyers like the idea of petrol-free driving, and there are some real advantages in terms of costs, but there have also been some speed bumps on that road. However, all that is about to change.

Some perceived shortcomings of electric include lack of options, a belief that they don’t have the range of petrol cars, and a lack of charging stations. According to a Herald-Sun report from January this year, only 219 electric cars were sold across Australia in 2016. That’s 0.0018 per cent of the total market (although that figure didn’t take into account almost 600 Teslas purchased by Australian owners in 2016).

By contrast, in Norway, the electric vehicle (EV) capital of the world, almost one in every three new cars registered is an EV. In fact, the Norwegian government has announced plans to phase out all fossil-fuelled cars by 2025.

What Has Held Electric Cars Back?

Dr. Chris Jones, National Secretary of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, says a piece of legislation passed in 1989 to protect the now non-existent Australian automobile manufacturing industry, prohibits the direct importation of various makes and models of cars. This limited the choice for any low-volume type of vehicle, including EVs.

He said many national governments offer incentives for EV manufacturers to sell their vehicles, but the Australian government does not.“I see this improving. Next year the legislation is under review, the Tesla 3 will be available, as will the Hyundai Ioniq. Nissan has also confirmed they will be bringing in the new Leaf in 2018.”

Can Electric Cars Last Longer?

Perth-based professional Ant Day currently owns a Nissan Leaf, a 100 per cent electric vehicle. Prior to that
he owned a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, also fully electric. He said the Leaf offers greater internal space, has a longer range and boasts a more luxurious driving experience.

‘Longer range’ is relative. While an average petrol car would typically run for 400 to 600 kilometres between fills, the Leaf runs out of puff at around 120 kilometres. That’s the logic that has kept some from buying an electric vehicle, but their logic is flawed.

On a typical day, depending on whose numbers you believe, the average driver will cover 38 to 80 kilometres. Right now, this makes an electric vehicle a perfect solution for the average eye health professional who needs to get from A to B… and the news gets better.

Mr. Day owns the 2012 model of the Leaf, which makes the technology in his car five years old. “The more recent EVs have a range of 300 kilometres upwards,” he said.

There are around 2,700 moving parts in your average petrol car and only about nine in an electric car, so maintenance costs virtually disappear.

The Top-Of-the-Range EV

Many of the recent global advances in EV technology and popularity are down to the Tesla brand, which has simultaneously made electric cars sexy, desirable and deliciously technological.

A visit to the Tesla site shows the Model S (soon to be accompanied by the more affordable model 3) achieving a range of 372 to 572 kilometres, depending on the version. This brings electric vehicles very much onto the same playing field as their petrol brethren.

The only issue now is that Tesla cars are as expensive as they are beautiful – the current model costs from AU$108,700 to $209,800.

Dr. Brett Robinson of BOQ Specialist does not see this as a barrier, “We’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of Teslas being financed over the past four years, with many of our medical, dental and veterinary clients realising not only the time saving benefits of being able to charge your Tesla car at home, but also the fact that they are continuously improving their vehicles via software updates. So, unlike a petrol car, your
Tesla will get better over time.”

Benefits of Electric Car Ownership

Mr. Day believes there are a lot of positives that go with EV ownership, one of which is the cost of maintenance.

“My service centre originally quoted $260 for the annual service and I asked them what that was for,” said Mr. Day. “They said they would change the oil filter and I said there is no oil filter. They said they would replace the air filter and I told them there is no air filter. The list went on. They finally did their research, then told me they would charge $106 for the service.

“With an electric car there is almost nothing to service. The brakes hardly wear because you’re using regenerative breaking. The tyres wear like any other car but there is almost nothing else. While there are around 2,700 moving parts in your average petrol car, there are only about nine in an electric car, so maintenance costs virtually disappear.”

Additionally, he said fuel is free if you have solar panels on your home and charge during the day, or at one of an increasing number of free fast-charge points around Australia (EV drivers use the app ‘PlugShare’ to find their closest charging point).

“Even if you charge in your garage at night, the cost is about 25 per cent of petrol for the equivalent vehicle,” said Mr. Day. A “20-minute charge at a fast-charge point typically brings the battery back up to around 80 per cent, and with increasing numbers of charging points it is becoming more possible to live full-time with an electric vehicle.”

Recently, Mr. Day took his EV camping. “Charging added about 90 minutes to our trip,” he said. “But that was a 420-kilometre journey. If I had a Tesla model S I would have only had to stop once. And at the caravan park I could charge the car for nothing, so we did all of our sightseeing for free.”

Asked about the drive itself he said, “The EV driving experience is extraordinary, with unmatched acceleration and a peaceful cabin.”

Did You Know?

BOQ Specialist has over 25 years’ experience working with medical, dental and veterinary professionals and can assist with financing vehicles. They can be contacted on (AUS)1300 131 141 or visit boqspecialist.com.au

Fuel Is Free

Fuel is free in an electric car if you use one of the increasing number of free fast-charge points around Australia AND car maintenance costs virtually disappear.

The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the author or Toma Publishing and its subsidiaries.

The credit provider is BOQ Specialist – a division of Bank of Queensland Limited ABN 32 009 656 740 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence no. 244616 (BOQ Specialist). Terms, conditions, fees, charges, lending and eligibility criteria apply. BOQ Specialist reserves the right to cease offering these products at any time without notice. BOQ Specialist is not offering financial, tax or legal advice. You should obtain independent financial, tax and legal advice as appropriate.

The information contained in this article (“Information”) is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided.

Dr. Brett Robinson is a qualified medical specialist and the Chief Executive Officer of BOQ Specialist,
a company that provides tailored financial services to core specialist niches including medical specialists such as doctors, eye health professionals and veterinarians.

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