Motoring

Electric Cars – everything you need to know

There’s a lot of mis-information out there about Electric cars. Way too many people speculating and answering people without knowing the facts, and in most cases without ever driving an electric car.

So here at EFTM, having driven everything we can get behind the wheel of, and driven some serious Km in Electric cars, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s all the common questions we get about Electric Cars – we’ll add to this list over time.

Why are EV cars so expensive?

Until recently Tesla the pioneer of this kind of technology basically had a monopoly on EV cars. 

Being a technology company instead of an established car manufacturer they were literally starting from scratch. 

This required extensive research and development, the construction of facilities to assemble the cars and a myriad of other hurdles to simply have their cars legally allowed on the road. This was THEN passed onto the consumer who was the early adopter type.  

Now that traditional car companies are building their business toward an EV future, they are developing platforms to build multiple cars – the main issue today is scale.  The number of cars being made reflecting demand.  As demand increases, production efficiencies will impact on the price to drive them down over time.

How far will an EV car go?

This all depends on the size of the battery, much like a traditional fuel tank.

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

As with ICE cars it also depends on your driving style. A lead foot will lead to poorer range, whereas taking it easy will extend millage. 

At present high-end Tesla Model S vehicles with 100kWh batteries have the best range at around 530km. Australia’s cheapest EV car the Hyundai Ioniq has a range of 230km but it has a 28kWh battery. 

What about when the battery dies?

Every EV car’s battery has a warranty based on time and distanced travelled. Tesla offer a 8 year or 200,000km period. 

But there are plenty of examples especially with hire car fleets where the battery has lasted much longer. It may not hold a charge as long towards its end of life but still function adequately.  This is the same as your smartphone battery.. If on its first day the battery lasted 12 hours, then after 5 years of intensive use, it may only last 8-10.  Car batteries will degrade and offer a lower range, but won’t simply fail to work.

The Jaguar I-Pace offers a 8 year of 160,000km.

How are batteries safely recycled?

Just as today we have recycling programs for standard batteries, there are today and will be extensive recycling programs in the future, funded most likely by the car companies – just as mobile companies fund the mobile recycling programs.

Importantly though, Batteries don’t need to be replaced, nor do they have a short life span. A car battery will degrade, and offer less charge and therefore less range, but they won’t simply stop working.

How do I charge and where?

It doesn’t matter if you buy a Tesla, a Jaguar, Hyundai or any other Electric Car, they all have the same general charging capabilities.

Firstly, at home. Using your normal power point – the same socket you plug an Electric Drill in to charge its battery.  

Secondly, at home you can have a wall charger installed.  This will cost you money for both the wall charging unit and the installation, but will offer a faster rate of charge.

Third, at charging points around your area.  This might be your local shops, council car park or a business nearby.  These chargers are similar to the wall chargers you can install at home, in that they deliver a faster rate of charge.

Finally, super fast charging locations along main highways.  This is where today Tesla have the ultimate advantage over all other cars.  Tesla have installed “Superchargers” around Australia.  These charge faster than any of the above solutions.   New brand agnostic charging stations like these will be installed around Australia by motoring bodies, car companies and even “Petrol Stations” in the future. 

How long does it take to charge?

At home on your normal power point is the slowest possible way to charge.  Though, as an example, we recently drove the Hyundai Ioniq 70km, and returned home with 58% charge left on the car battery.  Plugging into a normal power point at 7.45pm, the car was fully charged by 4am.   This is a typical use case for a daily commute.

A Wall charger would typically charge around double that speed.  So it’s possible you would get a full charge for most cars overnight at home. 

A “Super Fast” charging location will currently charge most cars to around 80% in 45-50 minutes.  The final 20% – like with your mobile phone – takes longer, because the systems slow to safely fill the battery and avoid any risks.  

This super-fast charging time will reduce dramatically over the coming 5 years as systems for charging increase in power, and are forecast to come down to around 15 minutes from that 45-50.

Where does the power come from?

All depends where you plug in.

At the moment, the vast majority of EV owners also have Solar Panels at home, and many have a home battery.  Of course, this means the full clean green experience.

If you’re charging at a Tesla Supercharger they are using renewable sources for their power.

However, for most of us, we’ll be plugging in and sucking power from the grid – no matter where it comes from.

The “Dirty energy fuelling “green cars”” argument is a good distraction, but in reality the whole world is moving toward renewable and battery storage in some way.  If you’re a fan of Coal power, plug and play, if you want Green power be sure to do a deal to get your power from a Renewable Energy provider.

What happens during a blackout?

We have blackouts – too often in many cases, and rightly people would be worried about charging their car if there is no power at home.

However, the average owner would drive far less km in a day than the range of the car.  Thus, you actually don’t need to charge every night, it’s just a habit that’s worth forming.  Bottom line, a blackout lasting a whole week – that’s going to mean you’ll need to find another place to charge, but for the average owner, on the average blackout – it’s not going to be a problem. 

By the way, if there’s a blackout in your area, you’re going to have to drive further to get petrol for your regular car too because the servo will be closed.

How much does it cost to charge?

If you’re plugged into Solar and battery then $0.  But that’s the utopia.

Doing some basic sums on the size of battery and the cost of electricity at an average Aussie home, the Hyundai Ionic would cost around $8-10 to “fully charge”. This is around 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of petrol on a per /100km basis.

If you’re looking to use public charging stations there are many that are free, either supplied by business to attract customers, or as an incentive to go green.

Many though, and most of the future chargers, will operate on a pay per use system – Aussie company JetCharge have their Charge Fox network which uses an app, and swipe card to fire up the charger and debit your account.  Still, the overall “cost” is calculated to be at least half that of a petrol car.

Can an Electric Car pull a Caravan or Boat?

Yes.  Of course not the Hyundai Ioniq – as would be the case with a small petrol car.  But a Tesla can pull 2250kg braked – it’s not going to pull a yacht, and it will impact your driving efficiency – as it would with a petrol car.

What if I park on the street?

Most likely an Electric Car is not for you.  Unless your workplace is providing charging infrastructure, or you have easy access to the public charging network, the process of Electric ownership might be a bit cumbersome.

Into the future new energy options like Hydrogen cars might be best suited to these situations.

There is also the chance of a streetside charger.  These are common in Scandinavian countries, and if not installed by local authorities, it’s possible Councils may allow the installation of such charging infrastructure by home owners – though the cost would be higher than the typical home wall charger installation.

I live in a unit block how will I able to charge?

New apartment blocks will almost certainly come with standard wall chargers as part of their design, however for the many hundreds of thousands of existing unit residents the situation is similar to those who park on the street.  Unless you have ready access to charging at another regular parking location, or until public charging locations become super fast like a Petrol Station today, Unit owners would be expected to be among the last to adopt electric cars.

Do the cost savings offset the higher price of the car?

Probably not in 2019.  But as petrol gets more expensive, the annual cost saving of not filling up will add up.  It won’t offset the price difference, but if you’re going all in with Solar and Batteries there’s a real financial case over 5-10 years to see a budget improvement.

How will we charge Electric Cars stuck in horrible traffic jams?

Oh this is a goodie. People thinking that if there’s a major incident and thousands of cars are stranded on a freeway the Electric Cars will be stranded because they run out of power.

Here’s the thing, Electric Cars use the most power when they’re going fast. So sitting still, with the air conditioning on in comfort, they can probably sit for many many more hours than those in Petrol cars who will burn through fuel just sitting still if they have their engine running to keep the air conditioning cool

Oh, and if they do run out of power – just like the petrol cars stuck in the same situation running out of petrol – they’ll be towed away and “charged” while the petrol cars are “filled”.

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Electric Cars – everything you need to know
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