CHAPTER 4: HOW TO GET OFF GAS
Consider buying and connecting an EV
Fossil-fuel-powered vehicles account for around 18% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The average petrol vehicle produces approximately 185g CO2/km. Electric vehicles (EVs) are accountable for between zero and 98g CO2/km if charged from the current electrical grid, depending on the location.
As the electricity grid moves increasingly towards renewable sources, they have the potential to eliminate vehicle emissions entirely. An EV switch today means a 47 per cent reduction in CO2 emitted, with the figure expected to rise as adoption rates increase.
The move towards EVs is beneficial for many reasons: there’s less fuel expenses, reduced maintenance costs, and reduces the wider health impacts of emissions from vehicles, and they are not reliant on global oil prices and disturbances. Vehicle-to-home technology in electric vehicles (EVs), where the vehicle can power the house in a blackout, is another form of distributed energy storage that is currently increasing its capacity.
EVs have lower “fuelling” costs — around a quarter to a half of an equivalent ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. Sourcing power from a household outlet is more convenient if you adopt a charge-overnight regimen; it’s substantially cheaper on a per-kilometre basis than petrol and diesel. Servicing is simpler, more affordable and, in some cases, less frequent, due to their motors having significantly fewer moving parts— which means lower ongoing costs. They are also quiet, have excellent acceleration, and provide the added convenience of being able to be charged at home for most trips.
While both ICE vehicles and EVs are powered by the conversion of chemical energy into useful motion, EVs are simpler mechanically. Instead of burning fuels inefficiently, they store chemical energy in a large battery and use it to power one or more electric motors, which in turn drive the wheels. Electric motors produce maximum torque at near zero RPM, so EVs tend to accelerate more quickly than ICE vehicles.
And while the upfront cost of most EVs is still higher than ICE equivalents, it’s clear to those who look past the sticker price that the total cost of ownership (TCO) is close to parity with ICE vehicles, due to much lower running and maintenance costs. With many new EV’s coming with a range of around 400km, they are close to on-par with ICE cars. As charging infrastructure for EVs is still being developed, there are a growing number of options for charging your car across Australia, but there are definitely areas with less infrastructure in place.
Renew Magazine has published a range of articles on helping you understand Electric Vehicles (EVs).
Is it the right time to switch to an electric vehicle?
In the past few years, electric vehicle sales have increased drastically. Currently, EVs account for just 7% of Australia’s electric vehicle sales. Demand is growing, and as a result, so is the selection of EVs available to Australians. There are vehicles from small city cars through to large SUVs, with a greater number of diverse new models on the way over the coming years with some companies looking at bulk buy alternatives to help them become more accessible. Over time, as carmakers transition to fully electric line-ups, the EV market share grows and price parity is achieved, traditional internal combustion models’ residual values may be hit hard.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian drives around 15,000km per year. The average petrol fuel consumption is around 7.1-litres per 100km from a 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine and 45-litre fuel tank, meaning it has approximately 634km of driving range.
Current national average price of the cheapest 94RON E10 unleaded fuel is at $2.00 per litre, then it costs on average around $2130 per year.
In comparison, the fully electric ZS EV Excite has a claimed combined energy consumption of 17.1kWh/100km and 320km claimed driving range from a full charge.
Electricity prices vary from state-to-state and there are many variables, but over time the upfront costs of EVs will reduce, and the cost savings will increase as petrol and other costs of owning an ICE car increase.
What about EV batteries?
As EV technology has advanced, so too has battery technology. The latest battery technology has improved energy density, which means that EVs can travel further on a single charge, and they also charge faster. With advances in battery technology, the lifespan of EV batteries has also been increasing.
Today, the electric vehicles are designed to retain most of their initial range even after years of use, ensuring that drivers can continue to enjoy optimal performance and efficiency throughout the life of their EV. Moreover, manufacturers are investing heavily in research and development to improve battery performance and durability.
Factors that affect EV battery life
EV batteries are made up of between dozens and thousands of individual cells that work together to store and deliver energy. Like all batteries, the cells in an EV battery degrade over time, which affects the overall performance of the battery. Battery lifespan is a function of the number of cycles and the depth of discharge per cycle, but it depends on the battery chemistry.
Some factors that can affect the lifespan of an EV battery include:
- Temperature: High temperatures can accelerate battery degradation, while low temperatures can reduce the battery’s range;
- Age: EV batteries will naturally degrade over time, even if they are not used.
What about renting an EV?
As more buyers become interested in purchasing an electric car, rental agencies are now adding EVs to their fleets. Car rental companies in Australia have begun introducing electric cars to their fleets, allowing interested parties to see how – and if – a zero-emissions vehicle fits in their daily lives.
Startup Evee also offers peer-to-peer vehicle subscriptions. Australia’s only car-sharing platform offering solely EVs welcomes the rising demand, with expansion into every major city including Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, and Alice Springs. With the average evee car rental traveling 160km/day, each evee hire saves 12.8kg of CO2 per day based on 80g C02 saved per kilometre compared to a petrol-powered vehicle.
Car sharing – affordable, short-term vehicle hire (as distinguished from ride-sharing schemes such as Uber) – is also on the rise. There are two main types: fleet-based, where users access vehicles parked in designated locations and pay by the hour, and peer to-peer, where private owners list their vehicles online and make them available for short-term rental when not in use. A third, subscription-based model which involves a monthly fee and the ability to switch cars depending on needs, is emerging too.
If your car is driven less than 15,000 km per year, like the average Australian car, car share can save you money and may even shrink your carbon footprint by reducing your car use.
Car share programs reduce car ownership and travel. Car share enables people to walk, ride bikes and use public transport for the bulk of their trips while having access to a private vehicle for infrequent trips where car is the most convenient mode.
It’s also perfect for people who want to sell or avoid owning a second car. Businesses can make use of car share to avoid the need to buy and maintain fleet vehicles and pay for space to park them in. There are several companies operating in each major city. To find the location and availability of vehicles near you, you can visit the websites of each company.
By sharing your car, you’re helping to reduce overall car usage and single-use car ownership in your local area, and in turn reducing congestion, freeing up parking spaces and helping to improve air quality! By sharing your car, you’re also helping your neighbours get where they need to go!