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Living Lightly column

Driving into the future in electric style

By Andrew Baker

With our energy mix shifting away from coal and fossil fuels, and new interest in electric vehicles (EVs), it seems almost inevitable that many of us will transition to the use of electric cars as sustainable transport options for the future.

However, during conversations about electric cars there is usually a party who is quick point out the obvious limitations of electric vehicles – their range isn’t particularly conducive to driving the vast distances we often have to in Australia, they don’t charge quickly enough, they cost too much, battery replacement is expensive, for instance.

These have been amongst the most major challenges for car manufacturers. However, there has been another issue for the EV. How can a car manufacturer make money from them?

In a petrol car, services regularly entail replacement oil, coolant, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, timing belts, spark plugs, leads, batteries etc. Add the labour to carry out this work and the car dealership has plenty of potential to make a buck.

By contrast an electric motor has just one moving part and no oil! There is very little to service or to go wrong, which has many car manufacturers pushing back.

Take, for example, General Motors’ EV1, which GM was forced to manufacture in 1996 due to California’s stringent new car manufacturing standards. So fearful was GM of losing profits to EVs, it only leased its EV1 whilst concurrently pestering the government to remove this legislation.

When the car manufacturers finally won this battle, GM collected all its EV1s and had them crushed out of fear.

Whilst Tesla appears to be stealing the limelight there are many more affordable EVs entering the market. The Nissan Leaf, the Hyundai IONIQ and the Hyundai Kona with its 450km range are a few examples. Another surprising entry to the market looks to come from Great Wall intending to release a dual cab ute with a 500km range and a water crossing depth of 900mm!

To charge these cars charging stations are starting to pop up all over the place and most EVs also offer a special charge cable which can use a standard 10 amp power point.

It seems the transition has begun – an exciting time for motorists who care to make driving more sustainable!