Residing with an electrical automobile in rural Australia

Mobility has come a long way since the old loyal horse, first to 4-wheel internal combustion engine vehicles, and now electric vehicles (EVs) are the next big thing. And you are here now!

Many were unsure of a horse when the new technology and reliability of an internal combustion engine was introduced, but today we cannot imagine riding a horse all the way to Perth.

More and more global manufacturers are relying on electromobility, most recently General Motors (GM). They plan to stop production of internal combustion engines by 2035 and have 30 new electric vehicles available by 2025.

GM joins other manufacturers who have pledged similar goals such as VW, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volvo and Toyota. Not all of them are completely shutting down internal combustion engines, but they are shifting their research and development to electric vehicles, painting a picture of where businesses are going.

Countries are also setting targets to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars, such as: UK, France, China and Singapore to name a few. These goals set the framework for other countries and manufacturers around the world.

What electric cars are available in Australia and why should you buy one?

They say there are currently three types of people who buy electric vehicles, people who like to drive fast, people who like technology, and people who are environmentally conscious. As more and more electric vehicles become available, ordinary people are starting to buy them. They now start at $ 44,000 and typically have ranges of 200 km to 600+ km with the latest battery technology.

Some manufacturers bring on the market in the next year or 2 cars with ranges up to 1000 km. Companies currently selling electric cars in Australia are Hyundai, Nissan, KIA, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi, Tesla, Porsche, BMW, Mini, BYD, ACE and MG, with more to come.

Picture supplied.

If you are interested in electric vehicles, there are events where you can take a test drive with owners and other enthusiasts. There is a Facebook page called EV meets where you can chat with owners and check out their cars. Alternatively, you can go to a dealer and take a test drive. There are also online platforms like evee.com.au where you can rent one.

I did this a year ago to see if they would work for me in the country. I really enjoyed the experience and highly recommend hiring it before buying.

The car I rented was a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR +), which has a realistic range of around 330-360 km highway speed. At the end of December 2020 I bought the latest Model 3. In the summer I found that it takes me regularly from Moora (180 km) to Perth with a little over 50% battery left.

In the colder winter months, you can expect the range to decrease as the batteries run less efficiently in the cold. In winter I saw the car take 60% to get me to Perth (10% more than in summer).

The charging times vary depending on the type of charging station and range from 20 minutes to 4 hours. The charging time depends on what percentage you still have and which charging tariff the station offers. As I’m still getting used to the car, if I go to Perth and come back the same day, I’ll be happy to pay a small fee for it, so I leave Perth at no less than 70%.

A charge of around 50% to 70% usually takes 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the charger available.

EXISTING NETWORK
Legend:
Orange markings are “fast chargers” (~ 20m – 1h).
Green markings are “Slow chargers (~ 3 hours to overnight).

With an electric vehicle, it’s always good to try to charge it while doing something else like shopping, doing business, or sleeping. You can safely leave the car for charging because when you lock the car, the cable will also be locked. My car will then notify me on my phone that charging is complete.

It is important to note that at this early stage in the electric vehicle rollout, chargers aren’t everywhere and you need to plan where to shop / charge, but this is changing fast. The WA government recently announced its plan for a new fast charging network. It takes you up and down the coast from Kununurra to Kalgoorlie and Esperance.

PROPOSED NETWORK
The locations have 2 quick chargers with 50-150 kW each

In my opinion, the Model 3’s range is handy when your trips are mostly less than 600 km and requires few changes to your routine. If your trips are less than 360 km, your routine almost doesn’t change. It is important to note that EVs with stop-start drives will continue to travel at a slower speed.

You would expect this car to give you more than 450km range in the city because regenerative braking, where the electric motor goes backwards, slows you down and creates electricity that is stored in the battery.

I charge at home most of the time, which costs me about $ 15, which gets me a little over 350 km. This does not include any further savings if you have solar power at home. Expect $ 0 to $ 25 on public chargers. Currently, some places offer free recharging when you are spending money in their store, having a coffee, or shopping for groceries, for example.

Maintenance on this car is very minimal; Turning the tire and adding windscreen washer fluid are the most common maintenance points. The guarantee is 4 years for the entire vehicle and 8 years for the drive train (electric motor) and the battery, with no maintenance obligation to maintain the guarantee.

The batteries currently last well over 250,000 km, will have no major problems and are expected to travel over 500,000 km. After their first stage, batteries are used as stationary storage in the car, for example in household batteries or battery storage systems on a network scale.

At the end of the life cycle, the battery is recycled to make new batteries that start another cycle; Over 98% of the battery material can be recycled. The entire life cycle of a battery from initial to recycling is estimated to be around 50 years.

Writing this blog confirmed why I bought an electric vehicle. I like new technologies, have become more environmentally conscious over the years, and enjoy high-performance cars. If you are interested, I will be happy to show you the car.

This story was originally published on the Rural Oz electric car blog. Reproduced with permission.

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