So, you’ve gone out and bought either an EV, BEV or PHEV. Lucky you know what EVSE you should be looking for, just make sure you have your RFID with you. WTF am I talking about, right? I dare say very few would know, but with the slow but steady march underway to electrify our cars you will eventually need to be across these terms. I thought I’d try and make life easier for you via this simple guide.

Types of Electric Cars.

First of all, let’s go through the types of electric cars on the market. For a very long time now we’ve had Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s), Toyota really started that scene in the late 90’s when the Prius was introduced. The term “hybrid” is probably the best everyday usage word to describe them. Simply put hybrids use an internal combustion engine (ICE) and a battery to extend range. The engine and even brakes are used to generate power for the battery, which in turn allows for small bouts of electric only driving.

A Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) actually allows you to charge the battery via a cable. PHEV’s have larger batteries than hybrids and travel for longer distances on just battery power. For example, a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a claimed travel range of up to 54km on a single charge, before the petrol engine needs to kick in. This style of electric vehicle is perfect if your daily commute is relatively short.

An Electric Vehicle (EV) only has a battery that is much larger and heavier than the first two examples. There is no ICE at all, instead the battery usually sits along the floor of the car between the two axles. Electric motors sit on an axle or sometimes both allowing for two-wheel or four-wheel drive. Tesla is best known for pioneering this technology although major players have launched their own models such as the Jaguar I-Pace and

Aside from BEV’s that charge themselves, PHEV’s and EV’s require charging from a power source. This can be a long or relatively fast process depending on the amount of power coming from the charging source, which is measured in kW. Vehicle chargers or Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) are wide and varied, more on that shortly.

The actual battery capacity is measured in kWh, kind of like diesel and petrol tanks are measured in litres.

Charging and Cables.

Australian start-up company ChargeFox co-founded by Jet Charge has plans to roll out 350kW charging stations that would reduce the time to juice up down to 15 minutes. I thought when it comes to this area it would be best to consult with the Director of Jet Charge, Tim Washington who knows this game inside out! Hopefully he answers all your questions!

Q: What is your prediction over the next five years in the EV space in Australia?

We’ll see EVs hit 10% of new vehicle sales in the next 5 years, leading to around 120,000 new vehicles per year. Total cost of ownership will be lower for EVs compared to ICE vehicles. Some brands will start advertising EVs as being cheaper sticker price than ICE equivalents.

Q: In the main do you think there is still a level of cynicism or perhaps naivety when it comes to electric vehicles, if so what do you think this is based on?

I think most people are now no longer cynical of EVs in general, but rather the predicted speed of adoption here in Australia. What do I think this is based on? A lack of vehicles on the road primarily. We’re visual creatures, if we see it on the road, we believe it. But the key here is that current conditions are not an indication of future uptake. In other words, when it comes to wholesale changes in technology, you can’t use historical data to give accurate assessments of adoption rates in the future. When total cost of ownership or sticker price for EVs sit well below ICE, we’ll see a seismic shift in the cars that people buy.

Q: Jet Charge are the leader in our local market when it comes to at home charging solutions. But can you give our readers a simplified explanation of the type of plug you need. Tesla has somewhat confused consumers, inadvertently perhaps, in this area by essentially locking other EV makes out of this area via their Supercharge Network.

The industry here in Australia has now settled on the plug types for the market. This is separated into AC charging (what you would install at home) and DC charging (eg highway rapid charging).

AC Charging: Type 2 / IEC-62196-2 / Mennekes (all manufacturers must move to Type 2 by 2020). The only manufacturers who still supply vehicles with Type 1 in the market are Mitsubishi and Volvo.

DC Charging: CHAdeMO (Japanese vehicles) and CCS2 (all others – including Tesla Model 3).

Q: Sticking with Tesla, as they are the most well known example so far. What will it take for Jet Charge and Chargefox to become a leader in the public charger space as well. Is it all down to convincing all manufactures to come up with a common standard?

Chargefox is already the largest public charging network operator in Australia. The difference between us and Tesla is that Tesla’s network is a means to an end: that is – providing confidence of charging to Tesla owners. Chargefox is there to service everyone, including Tesla. We actually have a very good working relationship with Tesla.

JET Charge is primarily involved in consultation, hardware supply and development, installation and management.

Chargefox is a software company, and also the builder/operator of the Chargefox Ultra Rapid Charging network.

Q: The most common question we get is how expensive it is to charge an EV. The answer is complicated sure, but via Chargefox can you take us through the billing process at the very least.

I might answer this from a normal household perspective. The average person would spend $14.70 per week charging their EV. If they use off peak electricity they would spend half of that. If they use excess solar it’s essentially free.

Q: At a government level how important is the support both in terms of policy and funding to expand the charging network?

Policy is extremely important. There needs to be a level of confidence within the charging infrastructure community that the government is behind electric vehicles and want to make an industry out of it in Australia. That gives us the confidence to go out there and build more stations because we know there will be policies to support EV uptake.

Funding is needed in the short term to address market failure in public EV charging business models. Governments around the world recognise the need for infrastructure to increase the uptake of EVs, but also recognise that while that momentum builds, and utilisation is low, they can provide funding support to address this gap.

Q: We’ve driven the Jaguar I-Pace recently, take us through the other manufactures you have onboard thus far.

Can’t say too much on this yet as we’re under detailed contract negotiation with a number of them.

Q: In terms of charging times and range, what do you think is the sweet spot for the Australian market.

For highway charging, we want to see charging times down to 15 minutes, which is possible on the Chargefox network. For destination charging, we think it should be commensurate with how much time you would spend on location anyway – so for example, at a shopping centre, you may be there for an hour or two, and the charging speeds should match that.

Q: Do you have a view on other solutions like Hydrogen for example?

We work quite well with organisations in the Hydrogen industry because we all have the same goal of transitioning to zero-emissions transport. My personal view is that Hydrogen is better suited to heavy and industrial vehicles. I think battery electric vehicles will dominate passenger and light commercial vehicles.

Q: The other big topic in motoring going forward is mobility and self-driving cars. In Australia what in your opinion will develop faster, or will they basically go hand in hand.

I think we need to have a cohesive approach to EV adoption before we can have a serious discussion around autonomous vehicles. As autonomous vehicles will need to be electric, if we don’t have a view as to the level of EV penetration we want in Australia, it’s very difficult to form solid policy on autonomous vehicles.