While it appears that electric cars have only really been making headlines over the past few years, they have actually been around for as long as the 1880’s.
Due to developments in gasoline engines and thus the higher cost of electric engines, the combustion engine became the more popular choice in cars, and these engines have dominated the roads for the last 100 odd years as a result.
While some automotive companies have attempted to bring back the electric car over the past few decades, including General Motors’ EV1 which was the first mass-produced electric car in the mid 1990s’, none had quite the effect of the Roadster by Tesla Motors which was developed in 2008. This completely revolutionised the electric car industry and allowed the electric car to start to become a desirable, and attainable, option for many.
But like everything, electric cars have their pros and cons. Can we really see them as a feasible option for motorists, especially in Perth, Western Australia?
Will it only be a matter of years before they replace the standard diesel and petroleum fuelled cars we have now, or is the electric-car takeover still decades away, if at all?
Pros of Electric Cars in Perth
One of the biggest pros of electric cars is the environmental benefit. Unlike standard cars, the lack of an exhaust means that electric cars emit zero emissions. The National Transport Commission reported that in 2017, the average combined carbon dioxide emissions in Australia for a new light vehicle was 182 grams per kilometre. On the other hand, an electric car has 0 grams per kilometre. And with climate change posing an ever-real threat, especially down-under, it’s more important than ever to look at purchasing products that have minimal impact on the environment.
More Affordable To Run And Maintain
You only need to read the news headlines to know that fuel prices are a constant source of stress for families and individuals, not only across Perth, but across the whole of Australia.
In 2017, a Canstar Blue survey showed that Australians spent an average of $143.54 per month on fuel (which included a range of fuel choices, from LPG and premium unleaded, through to diesel) – that’s $1,722.48 annually just on fuel, and this would be considerably more for those who regularly had to drive longer distances, and those in regional areas.
According to myelectriccar.com.au, it costs Australians approximately $4.50 in electricity charges to travel 100km compared to $16.65 in petrol costs to travel the same distance. Even fuel-efficient diesel vehicles still sit at around $7.50 per hour. Making the switch to an electric car could help households across Perth considerably, especially when it comes to rising bills and increasing cost of living.
Not only are they cheaper to run, but they are more affordable to maintain than their fuel counterparts. Because of their design, electric cars have fewer parts that need regular servicing. This brings down the cost of servicing and also lowers the frequency needed. For example, as electric cars don’t have oil, oil changes aren’t required. The brakes on electric cars also don’t wear out as much, which means that brake pads won’t need to be changed as regularly. These two alone can save motorists a decent amount each year.
A Smooth, Peaceful Drive
Electric cars are much quieter to drive; for the driver, pedestrians and other motorists. This is definitely a benefit, especially for those who work in the heart of Perth City who would be dealing with the regular hum (and sometimes loud revving) of fuel cars. In fact, electric cars are so quiet that it’s considered dangerous for some pedestrians who aren’t even able to hear the cars approaching. However, automotive developers are working on this, testing electric wave noises and manual chimes to alert pedestrians where required about electric cars driving in the vicinity.
Another bonus of electric cars is that they are known for having a fast acceleration and good torque, making this a particularly enjoyable ride for car enthusiasts. The lack of an internal combustion engine like we see in today’s mainstream cars also means that electric cars are considerably safer in many regards – by working solely from a battery, it’s impossible for an electric car to explode upon impact in a crash.
Cons of Electric Cars in Perth
Limited Driving Distance
One of the main negatives of having an electric car, especially in a sprawling city like Perth, is that they can only drive for so long before they need charging; the average electric car can travel for around 100km to 150km before they would come to a halt. While this would be fine for many who would drive a small distance to work then home again to put the car on charge overnight, for those who live in the outskirts of Perth or who travel regularly for work, this would be very limiting. Some of the newer car models like the Tesla Model S can travel up to 500km on a single charge however, which shows that automotive developers are working hard to overcome this limitation. It shouldn’t be too long before ‘range anxiety’ isn’t commonly felt by electric car owners.
Considerable Recharging Times And Limited Chargers
If you are driving a considerable distance and need to recharge, surely you can just plug your electric car into the nearest charging station for a few minutes, then go on your way? Unfortunately this isn’t a possibility just yet, and the recharging times of electric cars are another reason that car owners are hesitating when it comes to handing over their current cars. While it may only take a few minutes to fill up a regular car with fuel, it can take several hours for an electric car to recharge fully – anywhere from 4 to 20 hours in fact. If you’re able to recharge this at home each night, that’s fine, but if you’re out and about and your car is running low, you may need to rearrange your day to accommodate these lengthy charging times.
Luckily, the Perth metropolitan area has quite a lot of electric charging stations, as can be demonstrated on the RAC EV Chargers Map. While this is great for those frequenting the metro area, for those further out, there are considerably less, making country road trips quite risky if you are low.
It can also be hard to charge overnight for those who live in apartments or units that don’t have a garage with an electricity supply. This means that where a person lives could be a considerable barrier to them being able to own (and regularly charge for extended periods) an electric car.
Limited Choice And Costly To Purchase
While there’s currently a fuel car to suit every style and budget, there are currently only a limited number of electric cars to choose from, and these are usually quite costly to purchase. As of December 2018, the main electric cars available in Perth range from the more reasonably priced $45,000 Hyundai Ioniq and Renault Kangoo ZE van, through to the Jaguar I-Pace at $120,000 and the various models of Tesla, which can vary in price from $55,000 through to $242,000. If you look at the motor fuelled cars most families own, these are often around the $20,000, and there are literally thousands of new and second-hand options available. However, over time as battery-powered cars become more popular, we should see the cost decrease while the range increases.
What Does This Mean For Perth?
Looking at the main pros and cons of electric cars and taking into consideration the rising popularity and increasing number of brands entering the market place, it’s only a matter of time before we see many electric vehicles driving around Perth. “A lot of the major negatives of electric cars will need to be addressed before every day Perth residents will move away from the convenience of their existing cars”, says Director of Gino’s Panel and Paint, Basil Scagliotta. “The cost needs to come down further, and we really need to see batteries that are quicker to charge, which can take you the distance you need.”
“We’re very excited about the future of electric cars in Perth”, adds Aaron Scagliotta, also Director of Gino’s Panel and Paint. “Rest assured, as these types of cars become more commonplace, Gino’s will be more than ready to help electric car owners with whatever needs they may have. We care about all Perth drivers, and if they need an automotive repair company that can look after their battery powered cars, we will be there for them.”
Here’s to a battery-fuelled future!