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

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 (2015-2016 figures) comprises 85.2% fossil fuels and 14.8% 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.

Some versions of the Tesla Model S have a range of  500kms plus on a single charge with many of the newer models boasting a range over 300kms before recharging. The GM Bolt has a range of 383kms and the upcoming Tesla Model 3 and new Nissan LEAF will have similar ranges. Range anxiety is diminishing as a barrier to EV uptake with models from 2017 onwards having a range of 350kms and up.  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 Tesla Model S is already here and the Tesla Model X arrived in February 2017. Although the Tesla Model 3 is due to commence production by end of 2017 it will probably be 2019 before they make their appearance in Australia. The Nissan Leaf and Mistubishi MiEV pure electric models are available but now as second hand vehicles. 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.  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.  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 will arrive, as will the Hyundai Ioniq hatch, the crossover SUV Hyundai Kona along with sister company Kia’s electric Niro, another crossover SUV. The new Nissan LEAF is also due to arrive in Australia before the end of 2018. Things are looking up with these more affordable models on sale.

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. These continuing trends will mean the purchase price of EVs will compete with ICE cars from 2017 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 reduced pricing in electric vehicles from 2017 onwards.

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.