Electric vehicles (EVs) are vehicles powered at least partly by electricity. This includes battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The EVC does not include non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) under the term ‘EV’, instead grouping them with other internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs).
In 2020, 0.75% of new car sales in Australia were EVs. That translates to 6,900 cars, a minor increase – despite the COVID-19 pandemic – from 6,718 sold in 2019.
But the rest of the world is speeding ahead. In 2020, there were 1.3 million EVs sold in China, making it the biggest EV market, while 70% of all new cars sold in Norway were electric.
Global uptake is rapidly increasing with many carmakers already setting timelines to become 100% electric: Jaguar Land Rover (2025), Audi (2026), Volvo (2030), Mazda (2030), Ford in Europe (2030), Nissan (early 2030s), GM (2035), Daimler (2039), and Honda (2040).
Australia is lagging behind because of a historical lack of governmental support.
The Federal Government should follow countries like the UK, Germany, Canada, India, and China who have committed to banning the sale of non-electric vehicles by 2035 or earlier.
Some states, like NSW and the ACT, have taken on a leadership role. The NSW Government’s $500M EV Strategy is an impressive plan that will increase vehicle affordability and charger access. Other states and territories must follow suit if manufacturers are to bring more affordable BEVs and PHEVs to domestic markets.
Yep. A 2021 poll by the Australia Institute found the majority of Australians support both a government policy subsidising the purchase of new EVs and a ban on the sale of new fossil fuelled cars by 2035.
EVs already have a comparable total cost of ownership to ICEVs and will be cheaper up-front in some markets by 2025.
A lack of government support has generally meant Australia misses out on the cheapest EVs available in other right-hand markets like the UK. That is why there are only 3 BEVs and 3 PHEVs available here under $50,000. However, many more are expected by the end of 2022.
Increasing numbers of EVs in corporate and government fleets will boost the secondhand market, making EVs even more affordable.
EVs are good value when you include maintenance and fuel costs. This is because EVs are 70% cheaper to refuel (saving the average driver $1,600 per year) and have fewer moving parts (saving drivers around $400 per year on maintenance).
Today’s EV batteries are expected to last as long as – if not longer than – the average car does, which is around 15 years.
After their life in an EV, batteries can be recycled and repurposed. Such recycling will also significantly reduce the amount of mining required for EV components.
Fewer emissions: EVs don’t release tailpipe emissions. That matters when vehicle pollution currently causes 50% more deaths in Australia than car crashes. Research also shows that even if an EV is charged by coal-fired electricity, it still generates lower net emissions that ICEVs. As grids become cleaner, EVs become cleaner too.
Safety: EVs generally have a reduced risk of roll over because batteries lower the centre of gravity. According to NSW Fire & Rescue, the batteries themselves are no more dangerous than fuel tanks.
Grid reliability: New EV models can put electricity back into a household or grid. Managed correctly, this will reduce blackouts and electricity prices by flattening peak demand.
Fuel security: Australia spends approximately $16 billion a year on importing fuel. EVs free up that money so that it can be invested in Australia instead.
Cheaper EVs can travel around 300km on one charge, while more expensive EVs can travel over 600km. As battery technology improves, range will continue to increase. Australians drive an average of 36km per day so EVs are already suitable for most journeys.
That depends on the speed of the charger and size of the battery but these rates are typical:
- evc.org.au Home Charger (e.g. in a garage) – 5 hours to full charge
- Workplace Charger (e.g. in an office building carpark) – 5 hours to full charge
- Destination Charger (e.g. at shopping centres) – 2 hours to full charge
- Fast Charger (e.g. on the side of a highway) – 15 minutes to full charge
Most EV drivers charge their car overnight at home just like a phone but public infrastructure remains important, especially for people living in apartments and renters.
Back in 2018, Sylvia Wilson was able to drive 20,000km around Australia’s entire perimeter in an EV.
Since then, governments and private companies have provided significant investment to dramatically increase charger accessibility. Today, there are over 200 fast and ultrafast DC charging locations across Australia and many more public AC chargers. Coverage is only going to get better as uptake increases.
Public transport is important but private and shared vehicles aren’t going anywhere. Electrification of public transport should be a major part of EV strategies. Trials are underway in numerous states with multiple state governments committing to transitioning their bus fleets to be fully electric.
EVs deliver full torque instantly, meaning they can accelerate much faster than equivalent ICEVs. EVs also often have their batteries placed along the bottom of the vehicle, lowering the centre of gravity and providing better handling and cornering. Imagine driving a go kart but you can listen to the radio.
For the latest breakdown of state and federal policies regarding electric vehicles, you can read our State of Electric Vehicles 2021 report.
Today’s EVs have enough battery range to meet the average Australian’s driving needs for over a week. Current EVs have an average battery range of 480km but the technology is advancing so rapidly that new models can drive for almost 550km on a single charge.
The average Australian drives 38km per day so an EV owner can go for at least 10 days without a recharge. Unlike petrol cars, you can recharge at home or anywhere with access to electricity.
Charging times are falling quickly as technology advances. Residential chargers are able to fully charge EVs in around six to eight hours, depending on the vehicle’s capacity. This means you can easily charge your car overnight.
Public fast chargers are able to get you back on the road much faster. Leave your car at a charger while you go shopping or to work and in three hours, it’ll be fully charged. Ultra-rapid chargers can add 300km of range in ten minutes.
While 80 per cent of EV drivers globally charge their EV at home, there is still a need for public charging infrastructure.
An ever-expanding network of public charging infrastructure is being installed across Australia. Private companies have been building networks along highways, and both federal and state governments are now investing too.
Local councils are supporting local communities to make the change by installing chargers in local public areas, and it is increasingly common to see EV chargers in shopping centres.
In 2018, Sylvia Wilson was able to drive 20,000km around Australia’s entire perimeter in her Tesla. Hundreds of chargers have been added since then. If you check out the charger map on our website, you can get an idea of coverage. And that coverage is only going to keep getting better as uptake increases and more charging stations are rolled out.
Ultimately, you could charge an EV in a regular home power socket.
The upfront costs of EVs are currently more expensive than conventional vehicles. However, powering your EV is much cheaper – about 70 per cent cheaper per kilometre in fact. That means the average EV driver saves $1,600 on fuel costs each year.
There are also lots of new mid-range EVs available in Australia this year. These include the MG ZS EV ($43,990), Hyundai Ioniq ($48,970), and Nissan Leaf ($49,990).
EVs are only going to become more affordable with time. According to Bloomberg, falling battery prices mean that the total ownership costs of EVs is already the same as conventional vehicles and that upfront costs will be cheaper by 2025.
As competition, investment and innovation increase, the costs of EVs will continue to fall while conventional vehicle prices stay the same.
EVs have lower running costs than internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs).
Fewer moving parts mean that EVs require less maintenance. With an EV, you don’t need to replace filters and spark plugs, change oil or repair the transmission, head gasket or engine. In 2018, maintenance and servicing savings of an EV were estimated at $300-400AUD/year. Contrary to a popular myth, EV batteries last as long as the lifetime of your car. Battery costs are continually falling. Today, a 40 kilowatt (kW) battery (for example, like that in a Nissan Leaf) would cost around $USD 8,000 to replace. With current forecasts, the same battery is expected to cost $USD 2,800 in 2030. Most vehicle manufacturers offer a 10-year or 160,000km warranty on batteries.
Another massive saving from EV ownership is fuel. Battery EVs don’t need any petrol or diesel and are charged with electricity. The average Australian drives 15,000km and spends around $2,160 on petrol per year ($0.14/km). An EV travelling 15,000km would cost around $600 per year ($0.04/km) in electricity costs.
If an EV user has a solar panel, charging is free!
Unlike conventional vehicles, EVs deliver full torque instantly, meaning they can accelerate much faster than equivalent combustion engine vehicles. EVs also often have their batteries placed along the bottom of the vehicle, lowering the centre of gravity and providing better handling and cornering.
Around the world, the EV industry is booming. In 2015, one million EVs were sold worldwide. In August 2018, four million EVs had been sold, with one million of these purchased in the previous six months alone.
In Norway, 50 per cent of all new cars sold in 2018 were EVs. In the same year, EVs accounted for five per cent of all new cars sold in China and seven per cent of all new cars sold in California. In the US, EV sales surged by 81 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
Uptake in Europe is expected to increase sharply in the coming years due to the EU’s combined EV target, which is equivalent to around eight to nine million EVs on the road by 2020.
Australia is lagging because of a lack of EV policy leadership from governments, but 2017 sales were still 67 per cent higher than 2016. As more and more lower cost EV models come on the market and hundreds of new chargers are built across the country, EV sales will likely continue to grow.
Battery EVs have zero exhaust emissions, which alone makes them better for the environment than an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV).
Research shows that even if an EV is charged by coal-fired electricity, it still generates lower net emissions that ICEVs. As grids become cleaner, EVs become cleaner too. It is an unavoidable truth that the only way for Australian states to reach their net zero emission targets is with electric vehicles.
Additionally, EV batteries can be used well after their EV end-of-life. Once a battery reaches 70 per cent capacity, it is no longer fit for use in a vehicle. However, vehicle manufacturers and private companies are leading the charge in battery recycling and repurposing, ensuring that zero emissions vehicles really have a low impact to the environment.
Driving a vehicle with a battery is no more dangerous than driving a traditional Internal Combustion Engine vehicle (ICEV). In fact, evidence suggests that lithium-ion batteries used in EVs are in fact as safe or even safer than conventional fuel. There are numerous studies that show that fires in EVs are no more likely or even less likely to occur than fires in ICEVs.
In Australia, Fire and Rescue organisations do not treat EVs as any more dangerous than ICEVs.
Managed correctly, EVs can increase the reliability of the grid, while reducing the unit price of electricity for everyone – even those who don’t drive an EV.
New EV models are now enabling battery discharging, which means that during times of peak demand, EVs can put electricity back into the household or grid. This would actually reduce the chance of blackouts by flattening peak demand. The Electric Vehicle Council is already working with grid operators and energy companies to avoid the potential pitfalls of increasing electricity demand and instead harness the benefits of this new technology.