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The same regurgitated myths about EVs are continually dredged up by various media outlets without regard to actual facts. In this video some of the more blatant myths are explored and de-bunked. It is US based data but the same scenarios apply throughout much of the world and also here in Australia.

 

Electric cars are much more efficient and less prone to failure than internal combustion engine cars. They have fewer moving parts. In this video a Tesla Model S is examined to describe how the electric motor, inverter and batteries work to drive the vehicle.

You can find detailed maps and address of Australian (and other countries) charge stations by clicking this link

Let’s define rare earths for they are neither rare or earth. They are referred to as rare as they are rarely found in pure form. The word earth is an archaic term describing something that can be dissolved in acid. So they are not rare – they are found just about everywhere. In Australia we have 2.8% of global reserves or just over 3 million tonnes. China has the worlds biggest reserves followed by the US.

As demand has risen recently for rare earths there may be a squeeze on supply although that will be met with increased production from areas that were previously not economically viable. New methods for recycling rare earths are either planned or already underway such as the Fukuoka Prefecture plant opened in 2013.

EV manufacturers are also reducing the amount of rare earths in the magnets of vehicles such as Nissan which reduced the quantity of dysprosium by 40% in its LEAF. Toyota Motor Corp has also found a way to cut use of neodymium in its electric motors by about a fifth. Tesla has created a copper-rotor induction motor which uses no rare earths although it does use magnetic motor also.

It used to take a long time to charge an EV but like any technology each iteration gets better and faster. If you are charging from a normal house plug (240v) it will take around 8 hours to top up your vehicle – charge while you sleep. If you are charging from a 50kW fast charger it will take anywhere from 40 minutes to a bit over an hour to get an 80% fill depending on the size of battery and how much you need to top up (the reason 80% fill is used as a cut off is that the last 20% takes somewhat longer as the charging rate slows during the last 20%).

With the new chargers appearing globally and also here in Australia the time to charge for a 120kW charger is about 30 minutes, or a 250kW about 20 minutes or for the ultrafast chargers of 350kW it takes just 8 to 15 minutes to fill up – just enough time to grab a coffee.  This technology is moving faster than what some of the vehicles (particularly older EVs) are capable of handling but the newer models are equipped to charge rapidly. So the drawback of slow charging is rapidly disappearing. In Australia Chargefox has already installed the first of the ultrafast 350kW chargers in Victoria.

The convenience of wireless charging will also soon be possible where you simply park the car and charging starts without the need for cables in a similar manner to wireless charging for mobile phones – see this link for information on Wireless Charging.

Although you hear this myth perpetrated by people, politicians or organisations that want to halt or delay the advent of EVs, research and real world data refute the idea of a calamitous future for the grid. It is true of course that an EV fleet will require additional grid capacity but beware the rantings of people with vested interest that the sky will fall in. EVs are among the most flexible loads on the grid and with time of charging utilised in a smart manner (through using smart meters for example) the current grid is able to sustain up to an 80% switch to EVs according to modelling using real Australian data.

Real world data shows grids are coping well in places where EV uptake has been quite substantial and certainly at a much greater rate than in Australia. Various strategies such as smart metering and off-peak incentives will be employed to ensure a grid collapse will not happen. Many households in Australia also have solar panels and an increasing number have battery storage systems. There are over 2 million households in Australia (20.3%) with roof-top solar representing 7.9GW (gigawatts) of capacity – roughly 4.5 times the capacity of the coal fired AGL Energy’s Liddell coal fired power plant near Muswellbrook in NSW. Charging from household solar means energy directly from the sun to an EV.

Vehicle to Grid
Car batteries can be used to supplement grid power if demand is high with car owners paid by grid operators to make power available from their car batteries. This is already the case in Japan, Germany and the US where Vehicle to Grid trials are underway.

Rather than being a burden on the grid, electric vehicles have the potential to be a huge Virtual Power Plant (VPP) able to be called upon by the grid when needed. Below are some links regarding this.
https://www.nrdc.org/experts/noah-garcia/good-news-evs-are-not-crashing-grid
http://www.synapse-energy.com/sites/default/files/EVs-Not-Crashing-Grid-17-025_0.pdf
https://www.evse.com.au/blog/evse/
https://www.energynetworks.com.au/news/energy-insider/networks-ready-surge-electric-vehicles

Of course that depends on where you live and the capacity of the vehicle’s batteries. For example, the average price for electricity per kilo Watt hour in Australia is about $0.25 and it takes approximately 18 kWh to travel 100kms, so it will cost approximately $4.50 in electricity charges to travel 100kms. In comparison, the average petrol car in Australia uses 11.1 litres of fuel to travel 100kms (Aus. Bureau of Statistics). That’s a cost of $16.65 to travel 100kms at $1.50 per litre. Even a very efficient diesel vehicle (5 litres per 100kms) will cost $7.50.  See our calculator to work out how much you could save on fuel costs by switching to an EV.

Much publicity has been given to the rare instances of EVs catching fire – especially the widely reported fires experienced in Tesla Model S vehicles.  These particular fires resulted from the battery pack being penetrated by road debris which resulted in fires some time after the event – they were not explosive events and no one was injured.  Tesla has made improvements to battery shielding in the form of a titanium under-body shield consisting of 1/4 inch ballistic grade aluminium armor plate protecting the battery.

When one considers the amount of conventional (internal combustion engine fires) the number of EV fires pales in comparison.  It must be remembered that no type of car is ‘safe’ – for example a cup of petrol when mixed with air has enough explosive power to destroy a house or car.

To put things in perspective the estimated number of vehicle fires in the US from 2014 – 2016 was 171,500 each year or 19.5 automobile fires on average each hour! These fires resulted in an annual average of 345 deaths; 1,300 injuries; and $1.1 billion in property loss.

This has been suggested as another put down of EVs.  The facts however are pretty clear about the global reserves of lithium and recent studies suggest supplies of Lithium are more than adequate to power the global fleet till at least the end of this century (see Global Lithium Availability: A Constraint for Electric Vehicles – University of Michigan 2010).  Bear in mind that the global resource estimates are more than 38 million tonnes.  It is also estimated that seawater contains 230 billion tonnes.  A South Korean company (POSCO) has develeoped technology to extract lithium from seawater.  Lithium is also recyclable and EV manufacturers such as Tesla and Ford have already implemented recycling for their battery packs.  See our page on batteries for more information.

The lithium ion batteries favoured for modern electric vehicles (because of their higher energy density and low discharge rates) are recognised as being non hazardous to the environment. They are also fully recyclable (see batteries).

Australia’s energy mix (2016-2017 figures) comprises 84.3% fossil fuels and 15.7% clean energy.  Coal fired power accounts for 63% of Australia’s energy generation (2016-2017) down from 80% in 2000. These figures are not uniform from state to state.  It is fair to say that using grid energy to power an EV will entail using fossil fuel derived energy (unless a green power plan is in place by the electricity provider).  Electric vehicles produce zero local emissions which means much cleaner air in our cities and huge savings in health costs (see health issues page). Electric vehicles also have the ability to be powered by clean renewable energy virtually eliminating emissions and fuel costs altogether if you have sufficient roof top solar. Each year as more renewable clean energy enters the grid driving an EV charged solely by grid power gets cleaner – burning petrol or diesel will always mean higher emissions and more poisonous air on our roads and in our cities.

Some versions of the Tesla Model S have a range of  500kms plus on a single charge. With a recent drive train update (April 2019) new Model S & X vehicles will increase their range to around 600kms without any increase in battery size.  Many of the newer EV models boast a range over 300kms before recharging. The GM Bolt has a range of 383kms and the new (2018) Nissan LEAF has a similar range. Tesla’s Model 3 and Hyundai’s Kona have ranges around 500kms on a single charge.  Range anxiety is diminishing as a barrier to EV uptake with models from 2018 onwards having a range of 300kms and up.

Tesla have unveiled their Roadster V2 which has a range of 1,000kms and will be in production 2020.  The average Australian passenger vehicle travels 12,600 kms per annum (34.52 kms daily average) according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018 figures), a range easily achievable by electric vehicles. More infrastructure has been rolled out with fast (and ultra fast) stations being deployed but more needs to be done in this area. Most charging will be done at home however from a standard plug or from a wall mounted charger.

With increased awareness of recent years most people know EVs are already here but in limited models.  The Tesla Model S is here and the Tesla Model X arrived in February 2017. The Tesla Model 3 arrived in 2019. The Nissan Leaf and Mistubishi MiEV pure electric models are available but now as second hand vehicles. The new LEAF has been on sale since mid 2019. The BMW i3 arrived in 2014. A range of hybrid and some plug in hybrid (PHEV) models are also available – the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the top sellers in the hybrid models. With no government incentives for clean vehicles, Australia lags behind just about every other developed nation in the uptake of EVs – even economically impoverished Greece offers incentives for people to drive clean cars.

However there are positive signs, the Renault Zoe and Renault Kangoo ZE van have been on sale since the start of 2018. In October 2018 the Jaguar i-Pace arrived, and the Hyundai Ioniq hatch is now on sale as is  the crossover SUV Hyundai Kona. The Kia electric Niro, another crossover SUV will be in Australia by the end of 2019.  The ACE Electric Cargo (locally assembled) will be available by end 2019. Things are looking up with these more affordable models on sale and major manufactures such as VW will be bringing electric vehicles to Australia around 2020-2021. The number of models in Australia is steadily increasing with more affordable models (sub $40k) on the near horizon such as the MG ZS, the VW ID.3. Some models arriving from China in early 2020 such as the Dongfeng Sokon E3 small SUV and Dongfeng EC35 van will continue to add downward pressure on sticker prices.

Electric cars are generally more expensive to purchase than their petrol or diesel equivalents. This is mainly due to expenses related to efficiencies of scale and the cost of the batteries. As scale production of electric vehicles has increased and battery costs reduced the cost of electric cars has come down. Lithium battery prices have also dropped 80% between 2010 and 2016 with the prospect of further substantial reductions in cost over the next five years. They are dropping at 20% per annum and accelerating. These continuing trends will mean the overall cost of ownership of EVs will compete with ICE cars in some markets such as Europe from 2017/2018 and beyond.

As far as running costs are concerned EVs are about 70% cheaper to run (check out our calculator for yourself) and have greatly reduced servicing costs. While production costs reduce with greater efficiencies of scale and batteries costs continue their downward spiral expect to see continued reductions in the price of EVs together with extened range. To give an idea of the investment that’s been made in battery production consider this. As of September 2018 there were 45 mega battery factories planned or being built – this is up from 3 in 2015.

We are now beginning to see these types of vehicles on sale in Australia with the Hyundai Ioniq on sale for $46K with a range of 280kms or the Hyundai Kona at $60K with a range of close to 500kms. Still not cheap but falling in the price range of more Australians. Expect to see this trend continue and the actual sticker price beginning to compare with ICE vehicles over the next three to five years. Total cost of ownership will already be cheaper before then due to the minimal servicing and reduced fuel expense.

There are a number of compelling benefits to electric cars over conventional petrol/diesel vehicles. These include a vast improvement in air quality in our cities. Reduction in health costs caused by air pollution. Less noise pollution. Less CO2 into the atmosphere. Less poisonous and cancer causing emissions in our cities. Electric cars are also much cheaper to run (see MEC Fuel Savings Calculator) and require minimal servicing. The batteries have a second life as energy storage and are recyclable.

There are major reasons to change including Liquid Fuel Security – at present we are at the mercy of oil mostly from the middle east and if disruption to supply happens through war, an economic collapse or environmental disaster we have supplies that will last only a few weeks. Then no food in the shops, no petrol at the bowser, no supplies to hospitals. Do we really need to take on such risks. The government has received fierce criticism for this “passive” approach, with Liberal Senator Jim Molan labelling it “a single point of failure for Australia”. He warns that not only would a chronic oil shortage devastate Australia’s economy, but it would also immobilise the military.

Economically we spend around $30 billion dollars (2018 figures) importing oil from the Middle East (refined in Singapore) and other places. We should be spending those billions of dollars on local Australian energy and creating Australian jobs. It’s a crazy shopping bill to power our vehicle fleet when we have all the energy we need locally if we switch to electric. Our balance of trade would be much healthier if we can ditch oil and the internal combustion engine.

We also need to stop poisoning the Australian public with vehicle exhaust which kills more Aussies each year than road accidents. It also incurs a bill from premature deaths and hospital admissions and services of about $4 billion annually.