Are Electric Vehicles the way of the future?

Fully electric vehicles are completely propelled by electric motors, with a lot less moving parts than a conventional vehicle they are seen to be cheaper to run and maintain. It goes without saying that electric vehicles (EV) have experienced rapid development over the last few years, with the momentum only building in this space. Figures from the Electric Vehicle Council indicate a growth of over 203% during 2019 in the fully electric and plug-in-hybrid car sales in Australia. As it currently sits fully electric vehicles on the Australian market are available through BMW (i3), Hyundai (Kona, Ioniq), Nissan (Leaf), Renault (Zoe, Kangoo), Jaguar (I-Pace), MG (ZS) Tesla (Model 3, S and X).

Without a doubt, Tesla is leading the charge (sorry, not sorry) when it comes to electrified cars.  In Australia they sell three different models, starting with the Model 3 which is a small sedan, followed by the Model S which is a large sedan, and then topping out at the Model X which is their SUV and current flagship model.  Other models are on the horizon, whether they make it to Australia or not is unknown (Cybertruck we are looking at you).  Some Tesla sceptics can be quick to question some of the build quality of these vehicles, however with a manufacturer that is this young creating prototypes that have never before been seen we are not surprised that there are some teething problems. However, there is no denying that they’ve really nailed the technology side of things.  They’re also paving the way with regard to autonomous driving capability, which is really only held back by local state legislations which are a bit slow at recognising and allowing such technology to be utilised on public roads.  It is actually still illegal to take your hands off the steering wheel in all states of Australia, despite more and more manufacturers including the ability to do so for short periods of time while the car takes over control. Tesla have also shaken up the car buying process, by offering a 100% online ordering system.  This will no doubt be the future of most mainstream brands, and we wonder how this will change the way physical car dealerships operate in the future. The manufacturer has seen a rapid increase in sales across the nation with a new showroom opening on the Gold Coast and in Perth late 2020.

Other manufacturers are following in the Tesla powerhouse footsteps with Mercedes-Benz adding an “online showroom” that will allow similar functionality as with Tesla where prospective customers can browse, design and purchase their vehicle from the comfort (and 2020 Covid safety) of their own home. The environment for EV’s is steadily improving in Australia with ambitious plans in Sydney where Ausgrid and start-up Jolt are looking to convert streetside power boxes into EV chargers.

So are the environmental benefits of an EV still realised if you are charging off the grid? Yes! According to research from the journal Nature Sustainability, research from the Netherlands and England found that EV’s charged by coal fueled power stations still produce fewer emissions overall than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.  The other consideration to be made is, ‘compared to what’ and in Australia the EV’s assessment needs to be made compared to the current cars Australian’s are driving – which is a high share of large-engine, high-end vechicles, meaning the switch to EV’s would see a dramatic impact on overall emissions. There are opportunities for EV owners to further impact their EV’s footprint through charging their vehicles at home using solar power.

There are other ways that EV’s are creating more sustainble and eco focused transport with EV’s also leaning toward better manufacturing practices and materials. This includes Nissan’s ‘Leaf’ of which the interior and bodywork are partly made out of green materials such as recycled water botles, plastic bags and old carparts. The eco and sustainble focus is also realised in the BMW i3 with materials used in the interior including recycled PET bottles and kenaf (regenerative hibiscus plant), the manufacturer has also extended their sustainbility model to their production, for example with their plant in Leipzig being largely operated off on site wind turbines.

Whilst Range Anxiety is a very real experience for some EV owners in the past we are happy to report that the technology is only steadily progressing in this regard with the Tesla Model X now capable of over 500km per full charge, meaning that EV’s are now comparable with ICE vehicles when it comes to range. The real challenge here is mindset, planning your trips for charger availability and knowing your options for when you are out and about. There are apps though that collate this information for you and allow you to properly plan your trips without having to worry about where and when you can charge.

Whilst Australia is behind many other nations when it comes to subsidies for EV owners, there are still some opportunities that exist across the states, these include:

ACT : Stamp duty is waived, 20% discount on registration for EVs, battery and solar incentives

Victoria : EV’s are exempt from the Luxury vehicle rate of stamp duty, $100 annual discount on vehicle registration

QLD : Discount on stamp duty, battery and solar incentives

SA : Battery and solar incentives

NSW : Small discount on registration costs

WA : Energy provider backed discounts on home electricity

Federal : Small Scale renewable energy scheme (financial incentive for individuals and small business to install small scale renewable energy systems e.g. solar panel systems)

Feeling Electric Vehicle curious? We aren’t surprised, with the UK Government progressing at a rapid rate to promote EV’s and discourage ICE vehicles we are wondering if Australia will follow (slowly) in their footsteps. The time has never been better to explore EV for your new car lease – here are some specials to wet your appetite!

Hybrid and PHEV…what’s the difference?

Petrol, diesel, hybrid, PHEV or electric?

Part 2 of our series looking at current technology for vehicle energy systems.

Hybrid and PHEV – what’s the difference?  We’re glad you asked!  Hybrid vehicles are currently offered by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Lexus and do not require you to do anything but drive them like an ordinary car.  They have small electric motors mated with small petrol motors, and the two work together constantly.  As you drive, you charge up the batteries which power the electric motor, and everything just happens without you really needing to think about it.  The result is a more efficient driving experience (ie a Hybrid Camry is more fuel efficient than a regular petrol powered Camry) however it’s not as effective overall as a PHEV.

A PHEV (or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is more advanced, and has a more powerful electric motor and larger battery capacity.  To get the most benefit out of the hybrid system, it is best to plug the car into a power source when not in use so that the batteries are always fully charged and ready to go.  The main benefit of a PHEV is that you can drive the car using solely the electricity in the batteries for short distances.  Most PHEVs on the market currently will allow for approximately 50km of real world driving range in pure electric mode.  For most people, this means the work commute (or the majority of it) can be completed without using a drop of fuel.  Subsequently the environment and your wallet both benefit, particularly if you’re powering the car from a renewable energy source, like your own solar panels at home.  A PHEV gives you some of the benefits of a fully electric vehicle, without any of the range anxiety, because if you do run out of juice in the batteries, you’ve got the backup of the petrol motor giving you infinite driving range as long as you’re able to keep refuelling.  Driving and braking will charge up the batteries as you go along too.  A PHEV is a great economical and environmentally friendly option for a lot of people, because in theory you could do the work commute daily, not using any fuel in the process, and then if you do plan on doing a more significant drive on the weekend, or a road trip, your car is still perfectly capable thanks to the back up of the petrol motor which switches on and off almost imperceptibly as required.

With the electric car charging infrastructure in Australia at the moment, it could be argued that a PHEV makes more sense for more people than a fully electric car.  It does of course all depend on how and where you drive your car.  As charging infrastructure increases, fully electric cars will certainly become a more practical option for more people, and it’s certainly the way the automotive world is heading for now.

With technology improving at a rapid rate, it means the charge capacity of batteries is increasing, and the size and subsequent weight of batteries is decreasing.  This means improved driving range, which is probably the biggest hurdle holding back more Australians from embracing this technology.   The speed at which power can be fed into the batteries is also increasing, meaning shorter charging times.  Overall, in just a few years, electric cars will have a similar range to their petrol-powered equivalents, and recharging will take no longer than refuelling a conventional car.

Keen move with the technology and phase EV into your life? We’ve put together some specials for you, or you can view more specials on our dedicated specials page. Read our Part 1 on fueling options here.

To pump…or not

Petrol, diesel, hybrid, PHEV or electric?

Is it time to embrace electric technology in some form in your next car?

The automotive landscape is shifting in a big way.  Technology in cars is set to change more dramatically in the next decade than it has in the last century.  Some manufacturers are embracing electrified technology and autonomous functionality more than others, with 1 brand in particular which is estimated to be 2 years ahead of the rest of the pack in its electric technology development.  The terminology, the features, and the options can be overwhelming to navigate. Since cars are kind of our jam we’ve dug deep to find the information you need and put it all down in one place so that you can use this to help guide your car purchase. This is Part 1 where we look at petrol powered vehicles and the differences between the liquid at the bowser.

Everyone is familiar with petrol powered vehicles, but perhaps not everyone is aware of the four main types of petrol available. Let’s start with some of the key differences between each of the fuel types available, there are varying impacts here with regard to how you maintain your chosen vehicle to the costs on your back pocket, and the environment too.

 

 

The “standard” unleaded fuel available in Australia has an octane rating of 91.  The quality of this fuel is pretty poor on a global scale but is fine for most Japanese/Korean/American manufactured vehicles.  Most cars produced in Europe (and most higher performance cars) will require “premium unleaded fuel”.  This comes in the form of either 95 octane, or 98 octane (with 98 octane being the best quality fuel widely available in Australia).  The quality of fuel available in Europe is generally higher than Australia, and as such, cars manufactured there are designed to run on a higher standard of fuel.  It is very important that a car which requires premium fuel is fed premium fuel, or the car can become sad.  The final mainstream fuel which is available is “E10”.  This is basically regular unleaded fuel, which is blended with a component of up to 10% ethanol, which is a renewable energy source.  E10 is typically the cheapest fuel available (by a few cents per litre), however in reality there is no cost benefit to using E10, because the ethanol burns at a different rate to regular fuel, and your car will actually consume the fuel more quickly as a result, negating any cost benefit from the initial purchase.  The only logical reason to use E10 would be for environmental reasons, because the ethanol is renewable, and therefore better for the environment than 100% dinosaur juice.  You do need to be careful though, as only fairly modern cars are able to run on E10 fuel.  It can be detrimental to older vehicles which aren’t designed for it.  Check your owner’s manual or the inside of your fuel flap to see if E10 will work for your car or not.  It is this blogger’s opinion that E10 is rubbish, and should be avoided at all costs.  There are far better ways to serve the environment than buying E10!

Moving on to diesel, this is an oilier liquid than petrol.  Diesel contains more energy, and the combustion process is typically more efficient than in a petrol engine.  Diesel motors also produce less C02 emissions than an equivalent petrol engine.  Aside from the fact that diesel is more efficient, meaning you get more kms out of every tank, diesel motors also produce more torque (the twisting force produced by the engine) than petrol, meaning diesel is typically the fuel of choice for people who drive large vehicles, or vehicles which are used for towing.  Diesel can be smellier than petrol which can put people off, and despite producing less C02 than petrol, diesel does create larger quantities of other pollution than petrol vehicles.  Many cities and countries around the world are moving towards banning and phasing out the sale and use of diesel vehicles, and manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to produce vehicles which comply with ever increasing emissions standards.  As such, demand for diesel vehicles is dropping off dramatically, and diesels are becoming less and less common in new car showrooms as a result, with diesel primarily limited to SUVs and commercial vehicles.  Diesel does have a small, committed following of people though, and some devout diesel fans wouldn’t use anything else.

Keen to stick to the bowser and eager to lease your next vehicle? We’ve put together some specials for you, or you can view more specials on our dedicated specials page. Part 2 of our “To pump, or not” series looks like Hybrid and PHEV technology.