Similar to buying a petrol/diesel car, choosing the electric vehicle (EV) that’s best for you depends on things like your driving habits and personal preference. The following are some factors to consider1.
Will it suit my driving habits? If you regularly drive more than 200km a day and need to haul a heavy trailer up steep mountains, an EV is probably not for you just yet. However, most Australians drive around 40km a day and the average EV range is 100-150km, so it’s a good option.
Many households also have a second ‘runabout’ car, so you could replace it with an EV. Check out our Types of electric vehicles webpage to see which kind of EV could suit your needs.
Convert or buy? If cost is your main motivation, buying an EV from a car dealership may offer the best value. However, converting a petrol/diesel car to electric can offer a rewarding challenge and the option to create something truly unique.
New or used? The second hand EV market in Australia will grow in time, offering more affordable options. Used EVs have a few unique things to watch out for, especially the health of the battery. Also check that the vehicle’s licensing and compliance paperwork is up to date.
Battery range loss Throughout normal use, batteries will lose useful capacity and power over time. On average, after 5 years of regular use, an EVs battery range will drop to about 80% of the original maximum range. If you drive around 40km a day this is a non-issue, but if you plan to drive over 100km you will need to plan your recharging stops carefully.
Battery health and warranty claims If you are buying an ex-demo or used EV, you need to check the general health of the battery and also test its range. Data readers can be plugged in to check battery health and transmit the results to your smart phone or laptop.
Most EVs will have a separate warranty for the battery. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the battery warranty.
After charge rangeRange is the distance you can travel after a recharge. All EVs come with a ‘Range Remaining’ display which is a distance estimate based on your most recent driving patterns. So if the last 10km of your drive were uphill, it’s going to give a lower range.
The only way to know for sure is to set yourself a mental limit; for example, two bars remaining on the gauge, or, no further than 85km. Satellite navigation can help you search for a public charging outlet.
Software/firmware/hardware upgrades One of the great things about modern EVs is the ease with which control software and firmware can be upgraded. Check to see that the latest upgrades have been made before buying.
Older EVs are less advanced, but upgrades are still possible. Some older models may have the option of fitting new parts like on-board chargers, motor controller power settings and whole battery upgrades.
Charging requirements Most new EV sales will come with the option of a dedicated EV charging unit from the dealership to be mounted on your garage wall by a licensed electrical contractor. While these are convenient, there may be cheaper home charging options.
An ‘occasional use’ charging lead may be used if you have a suitable electrical power point. Consult a licensed electrical contractor to be certain. Also consider if the on-board charger is sufficient for your needs. If you often need to head out soon after getting home, consider the option of a more powerful on-board charger to power up more quickly.
Public charging outlets Check the charge port on your EV and if its compatible with the public charging outlets near you. Some EVs will come with a direct current (DC) fast charging option. Converted cars are unlikely to have a connector which allows use of any public charging outlets, unless it’s a 15 amp outlet.
Charge from renewable energyEVs have many benefits, especially for the environment. You can charge an EV with electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, geothermal, or hydro schemes. If you purchase green power from your electricity retailer, they are required to provide you with renewable energy.
If you have a solar PV system, you can charge your EV using the power of the sun rather than power from the electricity network.
Charge during off peak times Off peak charging on an economy tariff or time of use tariff is a cost effective way to power up your EV from the electricity network. We are currently working on charging options for customers and you can read more in our Driving EVolution strategy (PDF 806.8 kb).