These are the sorts of questions we hear often, and here are some answers

The Environmental Benefits:

    • Does the carbon and energy that goes into making an electric vehicle (EV) cancel out the environmental benefits?

Research looking at the full lifecycle emissions of making and owning an electric car shows that switching to an electric vehicle will lower greenhouse gas emissions, even if the car is made in a country with a high non-renewable energy source mix.
Studies that suggest that EVs will cause more emissions than internal combustion engine cars have been shown to use outdated data that doesn’t include factors such as increasing renewable energy sources in grid mixes over time, or the energy involved in the refining and distribution of petrol and diesel.

  • If an EV uses a lot of electricity, doesn’t that mean lots of coal fired power being used? Isn’t that worse than petrol?

A recent joint study by the University of Wollongong and University of Auckland compared the lifecycle emissions of battery-electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell cars, and combustion engine cars, and found that petrol cars are the most emissions intensive. Even though Australia has an emissions-intensive grid with a high coal mix, battery electric vehicles had the greatest carbon-reducing benefit. A large reason for this is that EVs have a tenth of the parts of combustion vehicles and therefore lose less energy through heat and vibration. But in fact, many people charge their cars using renewable energy. 

“But are there enough charging stations around the Northern Rivers?" 

  • How easy will it be to run an EV in Byron Shire?

A current survey being conducted by Zero Emissions Byron shows that nearly 60% of car owners drive less than 40km a day. Most EVs now on the market in Australia have a range of between 300-500km on a full charge.

  • Is there a list / map of local charging stations?

Yes, you can find charging stations via plugshare.com, Chargefox, other charge providers, or via the software that comes with your car. There are at least 14 publicly accessible charging sites in the Byron, Ballina, Tweed and Richmond shires, and of course you can plug an EV in at home or anywhere there is a powerpoint.

  • How will I know when the car needs recharging?

All EVs have battery status displays on the dashboard displays – like the fuel indicator on a petrol or diesel vehicle. Some people charge when their EVs get down to about 20%, while others just plug in overnight to top up the charge, just like a mobile phone.

  • Will an EV be powerful enough to get up hills?

Yes! In fact, EVs are even better at hills than combustion engine cars because electric motors offer instant torque.

  • Are there EV four-wheel drives or utes?

There are several dual motor electric car options available in Australia, that have a motor on both the front and rear axle. There are also some companies converting utes like Land Cruisers to electric drivetrains. These are primarily being converted for the mining industry. Some companies like Tesla, Rivian and Atlis Motors have indicated they will bring electric utes to Australia soon.   Subscribe to receive our e-news and we’ll be sure to let you know when this happens!

  • Do EV’s have enough power to pull a trailer?

Yes, there are several electric models that are rated for towing.

  • How will EVs handle the bad roads around here?

Electric cars handle poor road conditions as well as combustion engine vehicles.

“But they are just too expensive!”

  • What are the running costs and payback over 7 years?

That depends on your personal usage patterns. But it’s important to remember there is very little maintenance needed for electric vehicles, and it’s possible to charge for free at many public chargers, as well as at home if you have solar.
Even if you don’t have solar, it is much cheaper to charge - and you know how much your per kWh rate is, whereas petrol and diesel prices fluctuate and are on the rise. Some electricity providers offer special rates for EV charging.

  • Should I wait a few years for costs of EVs to come down and quality to improve?

It is expected that the price of electric vehicles will be on par with combustion engine vehicles within a few years, as the cost of making batteries comes down. But if you can afford it, getting an EV now is a very positive contribution to lowering emissions and you are making it easier for others to follow. 

  • Can you get second-hand EVs?

Yes, there are second hand electric vehicles for sale in Australia, and very soon there will be a used car site dedicated to EVs - stay tuned! 

Maintenance: 

  • Are there mechanics who know how to fix EVs around here?

All car dealers which sell EVs offer maintenance services. If an issue arises with an electric vehicle, it is more than likely to be with something mechanics already know how to deal with: suspension, body, electronics and so on.  The NRMA has a department dedicated to Electric Vehicles.

  • How long do batteries last?

Carmakers generally include a 5-8 year battery warranty for electric cars that says they will replace it if the battery degrades more than a certain amount (typically to 80% capacity) in that time.

  • Are second hand batteries safe?

Batteries from written-off vehicles are often used for EV conversions. As with any used vehicle part, please check with your seller if there is any warranty provided.

  • Can an old car be converted to electric?

Yes! There are many examples that you can read about here and here and here.

  • Would it be better to convert my old car to EV?

That’s a personal decision. As conversions can cost as much as buying a new vehicle, most conversions are only done for classic cars.

  • What are the advantages of an EV over Hybrids?

An electric vehicle emits no tailpipe emissions, and has the advantage of having only one drivetrain to maintain, and therefore much lower servicing costs.

  • How can I consult with an EV owner or find out more?

EV owners attend public EV events like Zero Emissions Byron’s EV Expo so they can share their experiences with others.  State-based and Australian EV Associations, as well as motoring associations like the NRMA provide up to date information for potential new customers. 

Renew Magazine October 2021 has a great section on EV’s for newbies and a buyers guide to compare models currently available. https://shop.ata.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Renew_157_flipbook.pdf

This page was compiled in October 2021