How many of you saw " Why I think it works for most Australians right NOW!" and instantly thought "What is this guy smoking?" How many think that the electric car is for "Tree hugging hippies", "Uni professors" and "Eco-conscious councils"? How many people have thought about how much an EV can save them despite the higher entry price? I'm guessing most answered the 3 questions would be "Yes he is smoking something, of course these are the only buyers and no I haven't because most on the market today look like the offspring only a mother could love".
Why do I want an electric vehicle? Well it all started when I got to drive one for the first time. I had this opportunity as part of my employment with a BMW dealer. I had a company car which we called a "drive car". We called it so because although I had a company car as part of my employment contract we only drove the demonstrator vehicles so I recall in one week I had 6 different cars I took home due to various reasons (demo was sold, damaged by a customer test drive, boredom, etc). Most of the cars I regularly took home were pretty exciting (330, 340i, X5 40d, M140i, 530i, X4 35d) Although I had driven the entire range the only car I hadn't driven was the i3. I had some exposure to Electric vehicles with the i8, 330e and X5 40e but all had small EV only range being plug in hybrids. The i3 was the first time I experienced a true EV. My experience of being able to drive the car virtually with 1 pedal, being able to move around traffic with relative ease and the amount of interior cabin for such a small car shocked me. I remember getting home and my wife saying to me "what the hell have you brought home and why is it so ugly!" She couldn't believe I decided to bring home the i3 having become accustomed to the usual BMW vehicles of Ultimate Driving Machines. It wasn't this drive that had me wanting for an EV. It did however start my journey to finding out more.
While casually looking into EV's and their benefits the immediate benefit I saw was servicing. There's no oil to replace, no oil filters, no spark plugs, and with regenerative braking less brake wear. I also found that there are companies out there wanting to support EV's. Its little known to most that AGL offer an Electric Vehicle charging plan. Provided your home power is connected with AGL (which for my area is among the cheapest rates at time of writing) they will install a separate meter at your home and charge you just $1 a day to charge your EV. That's right $365 for a whole years worth of recharging. No restrictions on how much you use. So I can reduce my servicing costs with an EV and reduce my "fuel" costs with an EV. How else will an EV benefit me? I started to consider insurance. I found very little difference compared to my current insurance. I looked at finance. How will buying an EV benefit you with finance? Well most won't know that the Australian government offer an incentive to finance companies for financing fuel efficient assets. An EV 100% qualifies and at a participating lender you could get up to 0.7% discount on the carded interest rate. So now that I know all the above I started to consider how all this affects how I feel about EVs and how it would affect my life.
Living in Melbourne's South Eastern suburbs i have the typical suburban drive for a lot that would automatically discount an EV due to "range anxiety". Work to home is 34km of start/stop freeway driving. I considered how I currently use my car and realised that apart from driving to and from work my car sits idle at home. We use the wife's Skoda Octavia RS on the weekends as the family car. So I need to travel a total of 68km a day and lets say 6km for detours, shop runs or trying to find parking at work. 74km per day. I considered how I would charge my car. For me I looked around at where charging locations are by doing some good old fashioned googling. I found that 700m from my work is a charging station. So do I risk getting a parking ticket out the front of work and having to move my car every 2 hours or I walk 700m and leave my car charge for half the day, not get a parking ticket and best of all the charging is free? A little lifestyle change and I could almost run my car for free. Now its time to pick the car.
With a typical 4 person family and the wife working one day per week I can't get an i3. At the moment with the current market it's the most logical vehicle for me. I started researching alternatives and found used Nissan Leafs. What I have found incredible that usually within 3-5 days of the car being advertised online they are GONE! Yes GONE. The price range I have been seeing is around $22-27k with around 25000-45000km on the the clock. Australia has an appetite for EVs, just not $50+k EVs. I looked some more and found the same situation with the Holden Volt. Up one day sold the next. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (those playing acronym-opoly Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) 50km Ev only range and $25-30k for a 2014 model and the flexibility of having a petrol backup. So why haven't I bought one yet? Well its got to do with the current offerings vs what i have now and what i spend now. I currently have a 2010 BMW 320d which I have finance on. I have to service it (which i do my own), fuel it and it is a car I genuinely love. Considering all the running cost and loan costs the car currently costs me about $750p/m. Now for half that I can have a used Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Why haven't i jumped yet? Simple The Nissan Leaf seems to come only in that hideous Ocean Blue and the Mitsubishi is not a particularly great drive. I'm not prepared to give up a great drive yet. In comes the BMW i3. it ticks all the boxes. Its the car I'm likely going to buy. BUT......... Just around the corner is some exciting new product. There is the new Hyundai Ioniq 3 pronged attack on the alternative fuels market, The Hyundai Kona EV, the new Nissan Leaf and recently released Renault Zoe.
The one I'm most keen on is the Hyundai Ioniq EV - Pricing from all indications seems to be circa $50k. Size appears to be good and range is decent enough that I can be a bit lazy and charge less often. Kona seems its going to be circa $60k which i think is too much for that car and as good as it sounds I rather buy a new BMW i3 for not much more. The prospect of the New more attractive Nissan Leaf also keeps me waiting to see price. The Renault Zoe is off the cards purely because its very expensive with no new tech and is tiny!
The exciting news for other potential EV owners is that the Germans are attacking with full force. While they are targeting the mid sized SUV segment to start with it brings opportunity and competition to the EV market. Mercedes Benz EQC, BMW iX3 and iNEXT, Audi e-tron all anticipated to be around the $125k mark bringing significant price benefits to Tesla's Model X with its questionable build quality. It also brings higher range and newer technology. It also brings more conventional styling to EVs. Ahead of the Germans and what i suspect will steal many sales from Tesla is the Jaguar i-pace. Conventional styling, epic performance, great range and a well known brand. The future is full of charge, power and excitement. Tesla opened the door - The established rivals are taking back their ground.
The car is not dead with EVs. EVs are not just for Uni teachers and tree huggers, The EV is for the every man. Its for the average family. At the moment it wont replace your entire garage but you can enjoy the benefits right now. For most my story would be a familiar situation. Why not replace that 2nd car with an EV. You might spend a bit more upfront but do your own math and you might find it will cost you less month to month. If we can convince manufacturers that by bringing in more conventional vehicles (Ford Focus, Fiat 500e, VW e-Golf and E-up) or Plug in Hybrids (Toyota Prius PHEV not available in Australia) that competition itself will drive prices down as demand increases. Manufacturers need to be creative in how they sell an unconventional fuel. They're tried and true methods of today won't sell the metal. Bums on seats will! Week long demos to test it in your life, track days (yes track days with an EV to show that they are capable of being quick and exciting too!) Scavenger hunts in EVs, anything to show people what they are missing out on.
This is only the start of my Journey. As my journey continues I'll keep you updated. Please let me know your thoughts and if an EV would work for you. TT