You can find detailed maps and address of Australian (and other countries) charge stations by clicking this link
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 recent fires experienced in Tesla Model S vehicles. These particular fires all 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. No doubt Tesla will make improvements to battery shielding to prevent this. However 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 number of vehicle fires in the US each year averages 152,300 or 17 automobile fires on average each hour! These fires kill on average 4 people every week.
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 is 74% coal, 15% natural gas and 11% clean energy. 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. Over time the grid can be made cleaner with greater penetration of renewables such as solar, wind, wave, hydro – burning petrol or diesel will always mean toxic emissions.
The Tesla Model S has a range of 480kms on a single charge but the average range of the production models currently being built is around 160kms before recharging. Range Anxiety is an issue for electric vehicle uptake but this is more to do with perception than reality. The average Australian passenger vehicle travels 13,900 kms per annum (38.08 kms daily average) according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics as at 2006, a range easily achievable by electric vehicles.
They already are but in limited models. The Nissan Leaf and Mistubishi MiEV pure electric models are available as is the GM (Holden) Volt plug in hybrid. The BMW i3 also arrived in 2014. With no government incentives whatsoever 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. VW will have 14 electric vehicles next year but we will not see any of them in Australia – “The (Australian) market hasn’t embraced these technologies and until there is sufficient demand we don’t plan to offer them,” said spokesman Karl Gehling. He cited lack of recharging infrastructure and no government incentives are part of the problem.
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. During 2013 Nissan reduced the price of the Leaf by US $6,500. GM has announced a price drop for the Volt of $5,000 for 2014. Lithium-ion battery prices have also dropped 40% between 2010 and 2012 with the prospect of further substantial reductions in cost over the next five years. These continuing trends will mean the purchase price of EVs will be close to or cheaper than their conventional equivalents within a few short years. As far as runnings 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 efficiencies of scale and the price of oil continues to rise, these savings will increase further.
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 are recyclable and not considered hazardous to the environment.