“When I go home, I plug in my car.”
The charging point is slowly replacing the petrol cap. (ABC Radio Perth: Emma Wynne)
er EV model can travel 350kms before it runs flat, and that’s more than she ever needs on a normal day.
A screen in the car displays the battery life, how many kilometres further it can travel, and where the nearest rapid charging station is, in the rare event of the EV equivalent of the “empty light” going on.
Big road trips possible with planning
Road trips require a bit more planning than with fuel-driven vehicles but are manageable.
Dr Zulak and her husband recently drove to Esperance, 800 kilometres away on WA’s south coast; the trip required more planning than simply jumping in the car and refuelling along the way.
“There are chargers down south,” she said.
“One of the major issues is that they’re not all the really fast chargers, so you have to plan ahead and know what chargers you’re going to encounter at every destination and then knowing how much you need to charge and how long that’s going to take.
There are also numerous apps to help EV drivers find charging stations around the state and indicate whether they are available when they roll into town.
An environmental, not economic, choice
Dr Zulak bought the car when her former petrol vehicle completely broke down. While she bought one of the lowest-priced models of EV available in Australia, it was more of a personal choice than an economic one.
“One of the major considerations was just the environmental impact and reducing my emissions,” she said.
Her house has solar panels and battery storage, so her home recharges are essentially free, but if she didn’t, the cost to fully charge the EV at home would be $13 to $18.
“I’m not adding to carbon pollution and climate change with my car, which I think is a really big plus,” she said.
The other reason for her choice was the driving experience itself. Her car is considerably quieter without an internal combustion engine.
“It’s just so smooth, there are no gears. When you take a trip down to Dwellingup [south of Perth] and you’re going through the forest, it’s so quiet, it’s just like driving on air,” she said.
Not an affordable choice for many
While Dr Zulak would happily recommend an EV to anyone, she acknowledges the $50,000 price tag is beyond the budget of many prospective buyers, and much more expensive than a similar-sized petrol vehicle.
Rhys Heron, communications manager at RAC WA, said the organisation’s surveys of motorists showed the uptake of EVs in Australia was now hindered primarily by the lack of choice and the cost.
“In the past, the number one concern was range anxieties, access to charging infrastructure across the state,” Mr Heron said.
“We’re now hearing members say: ‘I’m less concerned now about the range anxiety issue, it’s still a problem, but what’s really stopping me from buying an electric vehicle, even though I want to, is how expensive they are and how few there are to choose from
There are only a handful of EVs for sale in Australia, and none are available for under $40,000, as they are in Europe, where emissions standards effectively penalise car makers for selling petrol and diesel-powered cars, therefore providing an incentive for EV sales.