Sydney to Melbourne in a petrol car would have cost over $150 but was just $12.74 in ‘short-range, second-hand EV’

When Sharee McCammon and her partner set out for Sydney on a road trip the price of petrol in cities along the east coast had spiked to more than $2 a litre.

But the couple made the 2,751km journey from their home in Huonville, south of Hobart, for the total fuel cost of $43.38.

“We were invited to a wedding in Sydney, my niece’s wedding,” McCammon says. “And we thought we would do a test if our very short-range, relatively cheap, second-hand EV was up to the trip.

“The idea was to make a road trip, so we took our time. We wanted to see little towns, have lunch and things along the way.”

It was almost three years since the prime minister, Scott Morrison, suggested electric vehicles would “end the weekend” because they would not “get you out to your favourite camping spot” among other things.

For McCammon, 55, the purchase of a 2016 Nissan Leaf second hand from the Good Car Company for $24,990 saved the road trip.

The drive between Sydney and Melbourne cost just $12.74 one way, and $13.86 return for a total of $26.60, compared with the $150 or more it would have cost one-way in a petrol-fuelled car at the time. The Tasmanian legs of the journey in the Leaf accounted for the remaining $16.78 of the total cost.

The trip took the couple, who belong to a coalition of social and environmental groups called the Tasmanian Climate Collective, on the overnight ferry from Devonport, up through Melbourne to Wangaratta.

From there they drove to Yass, and then on to Goulburn and Sydney, where they stayed a week before making the return trip.

The couple charged their vehicle several times along the way. McCammon, a self-confessed “data nerd”, says the average recharge time was between eight and 20 minutes, which they used for driving breaks, lunch and dinner.

“It’s not enough time to get a coffee,” she says. “We took our little camp stove and we never got to finish our cup of tea before the car was ready.

“It’s important to note that this is one of the smaller range EVs you can buy. Most new EVs might only need one charge to or from Sydney to Melbourne.”

Chart of Sharee and Graeme McCammon’s road trip from Huonville to Sydney
Chart of Sharee and Graeme McCammon’s road trip from Huonville to Sydney in their electric vehicle. Photograph: Graeme McCammon

The PM might have attempted to walk back his rhetoric on electric vehicles but his government has done little to support uptake despite consumer price index figures for the March quarter showing transport costs have risen 13%.

Behyad Jafari, from the Electric Vehicle Council, says electric vehicles represent an era of accessible road transport, yet they have not received much attention in the current federal election.

“Electric vehicles today can do all the things the average driver wants them to do and they do it in a way that makes it fun to drive,” Jafari says. “Right now it’s as close as you’ll get to free transport.

“The need now is to ensure that opportunity becomes available to more and more people.”

Jafari says while Labor has “taken positive steps” in going into the election with a policy to reduce the cost of electric vehicles, the Coalition has done little during its term in government.

“In the past decade the Coalition has been abysmal in addressing this issue and that continues throughout the election.”

EVs make up roughly 2% of new cars sold in Australia, compared to around 20% in the UK and Europe.

Sharee and Graeme McCammon bought their 2016 Nissan Leaf second hand for $24,990
Sharee and Graeme McCammon’s 2016 Nissan Leaf on the road. They bought it second hand from the Good Car Company for $24,990. Photograph: Graeme McCammon

Extracted in full from: ‘As close as you’ll get to free’: Tasmanian couple take road trip to Sydney in electric car for $43.38 | Electric vehicles | The Guardian