Fast facts about electric cars: Your EV questions answered
Around the world, the electric car market is expanding at a fast and furious rate. According to data from CarsGuide, by the end of 2021 there were about 16 million light-duty plug-in vehicles that’s PHEVs (plug in hybrid electric vehicles) and BEVs (battery electric vehicles) - on the world's roads.
Here are some fast facts about the electric vehicle market and answers to some of the common questions about buying and driving an electric car.
Who is buying electric vehicles?
According to the EV Volumes website, roughly 4.3 million new battery-powered EVs (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) were sold in the first half of 2022 globally. BEV sales grew by 75% on the year and PHEVs by 37%. Even more growth is predicted with global EV sales expected to rise by 57% by the end of 2022 to 10.6 million.
Policymakers in several nations around the world have set dates to phase out the sale of fuel-powered cars. An EU-wide ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars is scheduled to come into effect by 2035, and even the world’s biggest car market, China, is aiming for 40% of vehicles sold in the country to be electric by 2030.
What about Australia’s electric vehicle market?
The Electric Vehicle Council’s State of EVs 2022 October report states that the percentage of electric cars sold in Australia accounted for only 3.39% of our overall car market in 2022. This is much lower when compared to 17% of the total car market in Europe, and 13.3% in China – so we have a long way to go.
Additionally, in the first three quarters of 2022, a total of 26,356 EVs were sold here in Australia and given we generally buy more than 1 million new cars a year as a nation, this is a small number. However, this represents a 65% increase in the market share of electric vehicle sales so far in 2022. The same data has shown that many people are transitioning from fuel cars to hybrid vehicles, rather than fully electric cars.
Data from the Electric Vehicle Council’s report shows that the Australian Capital Territory leads the nation in EV sales, where 9.5% of all new vehicles sold were electric. New South Wales came in at a distant second at 3.7%. Victoria stood at 3.4%, Queensland 3.3%, Tasmania 3.3%, Western Australia 2.8%, South Australia 2.3%, and the Northern Territory 0.8%.
Which car manufacturers are offering electric vehicles?
As more Australians start to consider driving an electric car instead of a fuel vehicle, car manufacturers are offering more electric options. Top-selling electric vehicle brands for 2022 include Tesla, Toyota, Hyundai and MG in Australia.
EV market leader Tesla has seen a significant increase in sales in Western Australia, even without any EV government subsidies being offered to buyers. The Tesla Model 3 accounted for nearly 60% of electric vehicle sales in Australia for 2022, and new data from carloop reveals that the uptake of Teslas in Western Australia more than doubled over the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021.
According to the Electric Vehicle Council's State of EVs 2022 report, seven new models of BEVs and PHEVs were introduced to the Australian market in 2022. At the time the Electric Vehicle Council report was written, the total number of electric vehicle models available in the Australian car market was 34. In the UK, there are 120 battery electric vehicle variants and 40 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle models available.
As new EV models are made available, it could help to make affordable electric cars an option for even more drivers. For example, the average price of EVs now starts at $28k whereas it was $46k in 2021 which is considered to be in part due to increased competition from new vehicle manufacturers entering the market and expanding their operations in Australia. The electric car insurance and EV finance industries are likely to expand too.
Why is Australia’s EV uptake so far behind other parts of the world?
At the moment, the Australian car market doesn’t have access to many of the types of electric cars available in international car markets. Additionally, because Australia has not introduced a fuel standard that many other countries have in place, car manufacturers are more inclined to send internal combustion engine (ICE) models to Australia rather than EV models as there is still a comparatively large market for ICE vehicles. These are likely to be some of the reasons for our slower adoption of electric vehicles compared to other parts of the world.
Rising consumer demand here has also seen some popular models selling their full annual allocation within hours of being made available for purchase. This growing demand and long waiting lists suggest that there could be a supply issue holding back our electric car market, rather than a lack of interest or demand from drivers.
Our electric car market is projected to grow considerably. In fact, the Australian Capital Territory is the first Australian jurisdiction to announce that the sale of new fuel and diesel vehicles will be banned from 2035, to encourage a switch to electric and hydrogen vehicles.
What are the benefits of buying an EV?
Ask any EV driver you know what they love about driving an electric car and you might find they love:
- The environmental benefits – No burning fuel means no polluting exhaust fumes.
- No need for fuel – Driving an electric car which is fully battery powered means you can skip fuel station visits. Instead, EV drivers can plug into an electric vehicle fast charging station, including as part of Australia’s longest EV charging network in Western Australia. For those EV drivers who prefer to charge their EV at home, they could take advantage of Synergy's electricity plans designed for EV drivers, such as our Synergy EV Add On plan.*
- The driving experience – Electric cars are generally quieter and can perform as well or better than regular fuel cars, depending on the model. Electric motors can also generally deliver their maximum torque (or pulling power) much quicker than a fuel or diesel car, making for quicker initial acceleration.
How do EVs work?
The three main types include hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. While these are all classed as electric vehicles, they differ in the way they rely on and use electric motors and batteries.
If you drive a fuel car (also known as an internal combustion engine or ICE car), your car combines fuel with air in a compressed mixture. Your ignition sparks this compressed mixture, which causes a (small) explosion. The heat and expanding gases push down on the engine's pistons, and this is what gets your car moving.
An electric vehicle, however, has two major components: an electric motor (or two if the car is all-wheel drive) and a battery pack to power it. There is no internal combustion engine in a fully electric car (unlike an ICE car or hybrid), nor is there a fuel pump, gas tank or oil pan. This means no oil checks and no exhaust pipe are needed.
How much does an EV cost to buy?
In Australia, hybrid electric vehicles (or HEVs) currently start at around $26,500 plus on-road costs, with plug-ins (PHEVs) starting at around $42,500 plus on-road costs. Full battery EVs (BEVs) currently cost from around $47,500 plus on road costs and cost more than other types of electric cars but don’t need any fuel at all as their power comes entirely from electricity.
While EVs are currently generally more expensive to purchase than internal combustion engine equivalents, it’s likely electric cars will become more affordable in the future.
How much does an electric car cost to run?
Global studies show that once the initial price of an EV is taken out of the equation, EVs are generally much cheaper to run compared to a regular internal combustion engine car of the same size.
Here is an example^:
- Currently in WA, electricity typically costs 27 cents per kilowatt-hour.
- For a small EV with a stated capacity of 64 kilowatt hours, it would cost around $17.28 for a full charge, which is claimed to be able to take you up to 450km. The distance will depend on a number of factors, and so a conservative estimate may be closer to 400km, so roughly $5 per 100km.
- Assuming an average fuel price of $1.80 each 100km, a petrol version of a similar size car with a 1.6L turbo engine and a stated fuel consumption of 6.7L/100km, it would cost more than $12 per 100km even using a conservative view of the stated fuel consumption figures.
The examples above suggest that EVs could cost half as much to power as fuel cars of the same kind.
To keep your EV running costs even lower, you may be able to charge your EV using energy from your home solar system, instead of purchasing electricity from the grid. BEVs can also be cheaper than fuel cars or hybrid cars from a maintenance point of view, as they have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance. Additionally, BEVs don’t need fluid changes like fuel cars or hybrid cars, so you could also save the cost of servicing your vehicle.
How far can an EV drive?
Until recently, one of the biggest limitations of electric cars was range. Now, in Australia, you can buy electric vehicles that are able to travel more than 500km on a single charge (depending on a number of factors). In Australia, most of us live in cities with an average daily commute of around 35km, so most EVs have more than enough range to cover this commute without the need to recharge each day.
How do electric vehicles charge?
There are two main ways you can charge your electric vehicle: through a public charging station, or charging at home.
It might be slightly harder to find a public charging station compared to a fuel station at the moment, but more are being opened all the time. There are various websites and apps – including Plugshare – that provide regularly updated information on charging station locations. You might be surprised to learn how many are located in your local area.
In fact, Synergy and Horizon Power are working with the WA State Government to create Australia’s longest EV charging network, the WA EV Network. This network is planned to run from Kununurra (in the north) to Esperance (in the south) and Eucla (in the south east) and include the installation of up to 98 EV charging stations across Western Australia by early 2024. Construction started in late 2022, with the town of Kalbarri being the first location to have a charging station installed as part of the WA EV Network. Many of the other charging stations are expected to be operational in early 2023 with works on the remaining locations in the SWIS to continue throughout the year.
The initiative is part of the State Government's Electric Vehicle Action Plan and aims to boost EV uptake in WA which could help the State's transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
As well as taking advantage of a public charging station, you can also charge your EV at home. You can plug your EV into any standard AC power outlet with a compatible lead, just as you do with a laptop or smartphone, but charge times will be very slow.
The easiest and fastest way to charge your EV at home is to have a dedicated home EV charging unit installed. This could charge your EV up to three times faster than a standard AC power outlet.
A dedicated EV charger at home can make EV ownership more convenient as you can fully charge your car overnight, or during the day. If you have a rooftop solar system installed at your home, you could even set up your home EV charging unit to only charge your EV when your rooftop solar system is generating electricity, so your EV essentially runs on solar power.
Another option to potentially save on costs when charging your EV at home is to take advantage of the Synergy EV Add On plan*, which is a time of use plan specifically for EV owners. As a time of use plan, the Synergy EV Add On plan offers four different time periods with different electricity rates. If you charge your EV between 9am and 3pm (Super Off Peak time period) and at night between 11pm and 6am (Overnight time period) you can take advantage of the lowest electricity rates available on the plan.
How long do EVs take to charge?
Charging time for EVs depends on what kind of electric vehicle you have and where you’re charging your EV.
Plugging in at home using a regular wall socket is the slowest method, but most EVs will generally reach a full charge overnight. A fast charger at a public charging station, however, can charge most EVs to 80 per cent capacity in around 30 minutes.
Making the transition to an electric vehicle might take some adjustment, but if you’ve been considering an EV, now could be the best time to start exploring your options.
Whether you want to combat fuel price fluctuations, try to reduce your carbon emissions, tap into the potential benefits of renewable energy to help power your car or simply enjoy a new type of driving experience, you could join many EV drivers around the world already enjoying the benefits of electric vehicles.
Learn more facts about EVs and find out why your next car might be electric.
* Eligibility criteria and EV Add On plan terms and conditions apply.
^ The example is provided for illustrative purposes only based on electricity and petrol prices and characteristics of new vehicles recently observed by Synergy. All costs are estimations based on the facts stated for comparative purposes only. Actual running costs are dependent on a number of factors including how vehicles are used and will vary across all vehicles.