The What, Why, When guide to buying an electric vehicle in Australia

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Step Off The Grid

UPDATED: Affordable, 300km plus range EVs (Electric Vehicles) are about to hit Australian showrooms (See table 1). But is there an EV available now or coming soon that will meet your needs? And would changing to an EV actually benefit you and/or the environment?

Why buy an EV?

So yes, we do now have some EV choice in Australia – but why buy an EV at all given they are still more expensive than an equivalent petrol or diesel car?

Well, there are lots of reasons!

First of all they are cheaper to own and run. EV service costs are reduced as they don’t need engine oil, spark plug, filter and timing belt changes like an internal combustion engine (ICE) car.

EVs also have reduced brake wear as a lot of the vehicle’s braking effort is returned to the battery instead of heating (and wearing out) brake parts. Servicing an EV merely involves regular checks of the vehicle and its safety systems with very little needed in the way of ‘consumables’.

In addition, the fuel costs are considerably less – the following example demonstrates this:

Assuming you drive a Renault Zoe EV (quoted as using 133Wh/km) for 10,000km/yr and charge it at night on an off-peak electricity tariff of 19c/kWh:

EV: at 133Wh/km & 19c/kW = $253

ICE: at 8L/100km & 1.50/L (premium fuel) = $1200

Fuel saving: $1200 – $253 = $947

PLUS: Service savings: estimate $250/yr

Total saving (approx.): $1200/yr

Secondly, you get the following environmental benefits over ICE vehicles (and especially diesel ICEs). These include:

  • No air pollution from the tailpipe;
  • Reduced overall CO2-e. (Using the Carbon Accounting methodology and data as published by the Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy. See graph 1);
  • No longer being tied to using fossil fuels, so you can go further in replacing coal and gas fired generation with your own solar or subscribing to the greener wind, solar and hydro offered by the utilities;
  • Reduction in waste such as coolants, oils, brake pads, spark plugs, air filters and the like.

When should you consider changing to an EV?

EVs do not yet cover all the range of size, cargo and towing options available as ICEs. However the choice is growing – so looking at the available and soon to come EVs in table 1, Table 2 below summarises when might be the time for you to change to an EV, based on a selection of distance, route and cargo/towing options:

Notes to table 2: 1: Can make these ranges if topping up during day or use DC fast-charge option (or 3 phase AC charge for Zoe) 2: No DC fast-charge (or 3 phase AC charge) for pre-2018 BMW i3. 2018 i3 has both. 3: Kangoo ZE has neither fast-charge DC nor 3 phase AC options


Bryce Gaton is the National Newsletter Editor for the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) and is a qualified secondary science educator as well as a Registered Electrical Contractor and electrical trade teacher. He has been working in the EV sector for 10 years, and currently works part-time for the Melbourne School of Engineering as their EV safe work practice trainer/supervisor. He regularly writes on EV topics for and on behalf of both the AEVA and ATA. Bryce also owns and drives two EVs – a Nissan Leaf for commuting and a converted Citroen van for work.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.  

  • trackdaze

    The hyundai is likely to have 40kwhr battery by the time it gets here.

    • George Darroch

      I hope so. 28kWh isn’t for everyone.

  • George Darroch

    I’d say that AUD $1000/kWh is an appropriate pricepoint to see real growth. We’re a bit over that at the moment.

    I’m actually most excited about the iPace, because it will offer genuine competition at the sharp end of the market where most of our sales are.

    • MaxG

      Interesting point: this was the cost for a battery not long ago — now you get car with it 🙂

  • Steve

    My 2014 BMW i3 does 13.3 kW/h per 100 kms, just like the claimed rate for the Zoe. At least that’s what it has done over the last twelve months. Given the power difference in the motor, and my lead foot tendency, I would think the Zoe will end up even more miserly in practice driving around Sydney.

    • Gyrogordini

      Hey Steve, FWIW my i3 shows about 13.7, moving to 13.8 as it gets used to our 30 km trips up and down the Princes Hwy in the bush, after its first three years in Mlb (13.5). It seems that hilly terrain, and 100 km/h commuting, really knock the efficiency around. Still way better than my 6 l/100 km Polo GTi.

  • Joe

    Can we send our Number 1 Aussie EV Fanboy, Craig Kelly, a copy of this article.

    • MaxG

      Rather not; he might find ways to stifle the uptake.

      • Joe

        Yes, he is afterall a member of Parliament’s Environment and Energy Committee….God help us all!

  • Mark

    The other promising EV that should be arriving towards the end of this year is the Hyundai Kona. It has excellent range and as a small SUV may be a more attractive option than the Hyundai Ioniq for many people. I know I’m going to buy one.

  • vibrantage

    Um. Zoe for 45 grand? The Renault dealer that I spoke to quoted a price of $51,450 and it was, “not negotiable”. Just out of my price range. The price still needs to come down a bit more for myself and I imagine plenty of other buyers as well.

    • Nick Kemp

      At the moment they have novelty value – soon your dealer will be begging you to buy them just like any other car. When that happens remember to grind a few grand off his best offer and tell him it is not negotiable

    • Gyrogordini

      Yep, I went through the Zoe purchasing experience, and it was ~$51 ish k, on road in NSW. Because Renault couldn’t deliver it, my deposit was returned, and I bought a 2015 i3, which I’m really impressed with, apart from the range. Renault will not be begging people to buy them – they show no enthusiasm to actually SELL them, at this point. It took nearly six years to even rumour them.