Electric cars are better than petrol-powered?

Electric cars are better than petrol-powered?

Electric cars are better than petrol-powered ones for the everyday grind. But unless we give the EV a helping hand, Australia risks being a ‘last adopter’

For general schlepping about, I love an electric car. Compared to a petrol vehicle, electric vehicles (EVs) are quieter, smoother and nicer to drive. Often they have better packaging with more interior and luggage space; they have lovely torque, good acceleration and great response.

With fewer moving parts than a combustion vehicle, there’s also less to go wrong – in theory. They probably will make better tow vehicles. Not that Australian cities are blanketed under smog but they shift the emissions out of the city (to wherever the coal-fi red powerplants happen to be). And, beyond cars, and forgetting cost, can you imagine if that noisy bloody garbage truck that does its six-point turn out the front of your bedroom window at 5:30am every Thursday morning was electric? What about city buses?

Back to cars, real-world lifecycle emissions of EVs, while far from the zero that is often the perception, are on average 40 percent fewer in Australia than petrol-powered equivalents (88 percent fewer emissions cradle-to-grave in renewable energy-loving Tasmania; 20 percent in coal-burning Victoria), so the green credentials are properly established, too.

Provided petrolheads were still permitted to produce their negligible emissions every Sunday, as campers might be allowed to continue lighting campfires, I think the quicker we can, as a society, make the switch to everyday EVs, the better off we’ll be. Especially if some labcoat somewhere figures out how to make a cheaper, lighter battery with more capacity (or a viable hydrogen fuel cell); and/or we crack nuclear fusion as a power source (as opposed to fission – that’s the one with the bad reputation).

What the electric car doesn’t need, though, is more obstacles. There are plenty already, all of which are obvious to Wheels readers – higher initial cost, range limitations and charging times, lower general resale values, costlier insurance and too bad if you don’t have a garage or secure carpark with a powerpoint in which to park your EV.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that in Australia we’re adding to the obstacle list rather than subtracting. You may have read in the last month or two that Victoria will join South Australia and NSW in planning a road tax (in Vic, a proposed 2.5c/km) for electric vehicles, as EVs don’t pay a fuel excise the same as conventionally powered cars – not that all of that revenue goes to maintaining roads. (You can read more about this on.) At a moment when we should be discussing helping the EV – a better all-round vehicle – this is a backwards move to hobble it.

I get it for some electric vehicles – it probably makes little difference to the owner of a $190K Porsche Taycan whether there is a ‘road tax’ or even lack of meaningful government EV incentive as there are in other nations, but if you’re Joe Public looking to switch to an EV and you’ve got $40K to spend, why would you stump up the extra cost?

Not that you have much choice, anyway. Partly also due to Australia’s relatively lax emissions regs – we should be careful what we wish for with that one – local importers aren’t bothering to bring some great, new, more entry-level EVs to Australia, like the Honda e and VW ID3. And that will continue to be the case until we start expediting an electric future, rather than putting it off. 

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