Your EV questions answered

EVs

Everything you need to know before buying an electric vehicle.

A woman loads shopping into the boat of an EV which is being recharged.

As more models enter the market and fuel prices rise to unprecedented levels, interest in EVs continues to grow.

Here are some answers to questions RACQ regularly gets asked about EVs.

What is RACQ’s position on EVs?

  • RACQ encourages the take-up of all low-emission vehicles, regardless of the technology they use.
  • RACQ believes that EVs will inevitably become much more common.
  • EVs are only one potential solution to vehicle emission related issues, however at this point they are the most market-ready.

What is the difference between an EV, a hybrid vehicle and an EV with range extender?

Hybrid vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) utilise a combination of both internal combustion and electric drive trains, while an EV (sometimes referred to as a battery electric vehicle or BEV) only has an electric drive train to power the vehicle.

The most significant aspect for the owner is that when a hybrid runs out of battery power it can still be driven by the petrol engine.

This is not the case with an EV unless it has a range extender. A range extender is an axillary power unit that recharges the battery pack when necessary.

They are usually a small internal combustion engine (ICE) but could also be a fuel cell.

Range extenders are not yet common in the Australian market. Some range extenders can also drive the vehicle, though arguably these could be classed as a form of hybrid vehicle.

How ‘green’ are EVs?

While EVs produce no exhaust emissions, the power source for battery charging can produce CO2 emissions.

In effect, the emissions are transferred from the point of vehicle use to the point of power generation.

Actual CO2 emissions vary from state to state and depend on the source used for electricity generation.

For example, a vehicle being charged by home solar most of the time will have significantly lower CO2 emissions

To compare an EV’s CO2 emissions with the combined cycle CO2 emissions of a conventional vehicle, multiply the EV’s energy consumption (Wh/km) by 0.93**

Example:

117 Wh/km x 0.93 = 108.81 g/km

The result can then be compared with the combined cycle CO2 emissions of a conventional vehicle as listed on the Green Vehicle Guide. (This example would equate to a petrol-powered vehicle with a fuel consumption of about 4.6 l/100km)

**Applies to vehicles operating in Queensland. This figure may be different for other states.

Why aren’t EVs more common?

In 2019, EV sales represented less than 1% of total Australian vehicle sales. Currently, it is about 2%.

Likely reasons for this include:

Limited model range and high prices

  • EVs need to align with buyer expectations of price points, equipment levels, running costs, value proposition before they gain widespread acceptance.
  • EV and battery technology is expensive and unlikely to become significantly cheaper in the near future, though new players are entering the market and will likely drive costs and prices down over time. However, as technology can change rapidly, this may change sooner.

Long recharge times if no fast charge facility is available

  • Charging times typically range from less than one hour for fast chargers to at least overnight for lower power recharge options.
  • Commercially available fast-charge facilities are in development. These promise to provide compatible EVs with sufficient charge in about 10 minutes for 350km of travel, however they require large amounts of electricity which will limit their rollout to areas with suitable supporting infrastructure.

Range anxiety and public perceptions of EV practicality

  • At present EV range is typically less than many conventional vehicles would travel on a full tank. Like conventional vehicles, the quoted power consumption and therefore range, is largely dependent on battery capacity, road conditions and how the vehicle is driven. Models with greater range are typically dearer than those with less range.
  • The range numbers quoted in the Green Vehicle Guide are likely to be achievable only under ideal driving conditions.
  • Most EVs are likely to have sufficient range to cover the daily travel needs of many operators, but they may not have the range to meet their recreational or occasional needs.
  • The buying public needs to become comfortable with the technology before there is widespread take-up. This is common with all new technologies.

Limited recharge option

  • A mix of home and commercial recharge facilities will be needed to satisfy the needs of most users.
  • Home recharge facilities can be slow due to limitations on available power or come at additional cost due to the need for specialised charging devices that can provide quicker charging.
  • Commercial recharging infrastructure is still being rolled out across Queensland and is limited in many regional areas.

Market segment limitations

EVs are currently not offered, or have limited offerings, in some popular market segments, such as utilities and off-road vehicles.

Uncertainty about battery life and replacement cost

  • Battery life is as yet unknown as few EVs have been in service for a long period.
  • The battery represents a significant part of the vehicle’s value. Replacement cost is expected to be high and would likely exceed the value of an older EV.
  • Alternative sources of replacement batteries are likely to be limited or non-existent.
  • The option to repair faulty batteries rather than replace them is not yet in place to any great extent.

Uncertainty about vehicle resale and residual value

  • Current projections by a recognised industry pricing service suggests that residual values of EVs will be similar to conventional vehicles after five years. However, as EVs are more expensive to buy, the total financial loss will be higher.

How long are EV battery warranties?

Expect traction batteries to have a longer warranty than the rest of the car. Typically, this would be between eight and 10 years. However, battery warranties can be complex. Many vehicle manufacturers have very specific conditions, including what they consider to be an acceptable loss of battery capacity.

How do I find recharging facilities?

There are several online tools for locating recharging facilities. Plugshare and Chargefox are a couple of them. On-board navigation systems are also likely to show charging stations.

Note, too, that different EV manufacturers use different charging plug arrangements, however most commercial charging facilities (except those dedicated to a specific brand) should be able to accommodate most of the different arrangements.

How does the electricity cost for an EV compare with fuel consumption of a conventional car?

For most people the simplest and most meaningful comparison will be the cost to travel 100 km.

For an EV:

Wh/km* ÷ 10 = kWh/100km

kWh x applicable electricity tariff = $ / 100 km

Example:

117 Wh/km ÷ 10 = 11.7 kWh

11.7 x 0.266** = $3.12 /100km

*Available from the Green Vehicle Guide.

**Based on Qld Tariff 11 of 0.266 c/ kWh. Note: Tariffs can vary. Commercial charge stations often charge more.


For a conventional vehicle:

L/100km * x fuel cost ($/L) = $ / 100 km

Example:

4.5 x $1.50 ** = $6.75 / 100 km

* Use combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the chosen vehicle from the Green Vehicle Guide.

** Example of fuel cost only. Substitute as applicable.

How far can an EV be driven on a single charge?

This is known as operating range and is listed in the Green Vehicle Guide for each EV.

Note, however, the range numbers quoted are likely to be achievable only under ideal driving conditions.

How do maintenance costs of EVs compare with conventional models?

EVs have fewer drivetrain parts than a conventional vehicle and will therefore require less maintenance. However, EVs will still require repair and servicing to things like brake systems and tyres so they will not be entirely maintenance-free. This could have a major impact on the future profitability of repair facilities but will be a plus for EV buyers. The high cost of replacement batteries cannot be overlooked, however.

Are EVs safe?

EVs are designed and built to recognised international standards and have been proven to be safe in service.

Technicians are specifically trained to repair and service these vehicles and DIY repairs are not encouraged.

Many EV models have been subjected to independent crash testing by ANCAP (Australian New Car assessment Program), similar to petrol and diesel models. Buyers are encouraged to check the

ANCAP rating for models they consider and choose five-star rated cars with the latest test date stamp.

Things to note: The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.

Related topics

Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.