Australia is well known for its tyranny of distance. This applies to the distance from other parts of the world, but it also applies to the distances from city to city.
For this reason, Australians are a bit sceptical when it comes to electric cars. There persists a tie to their tried and tested petrol or diesel-fuelled engines.
While electric cars are becoming more popular in China, Europe and the US, they have had a slow start in Australia, with only a couple of hundred sold in recent years.
One of the key reasons for the unpopularity of electric cars in Australia is the fear that the car’s battery will go flat and you will be stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no access to power.
Currently, there are 12 supercharger stations in Australia all located in Victoria or New South Wales. Another eight will be installed next year.
Supercharger stations allow Tesla cars to receive a quick charge – from 0 to 100 percent charged in 90 minutes – for long-distance drives.
This means drivers are forced to use home or destination charging stations, which can take anywhere between 4-12 hours, depending on wattage.
The New Daily spoke to Queensland University of Technology transport expert Tim Williams about common misconceptions that people could get trapped without any battery in an electric car.
“These cars can drive some 500km on a full charge – who drives 500km a day?” he said.
“The reality is the average car user lives in cities and only drives a maximum 100km a day.
“People are quite capable of recharging at home, and I think it’s very unlikely someone would get stranded with no battery or time to charge if you’re prepared. It’s a possibility though.”
Most Australians don’t routinely travel on remote routes. The more realistic barriers are price and a very long waiting list.
The new lower cost Model 3 will retail for $US35,000 or around $A45,700.
And the production wait list for Australians on the list is very long. It’s estimated delivery for new reservations will occur in late 2018.
The range of electric car options in Australia is set to grow next year with the expected release of the Renault Zoe, the new Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq, Tesla Model 3, and potentially a lower cost BMW.
The new electric cars are expected to be able to do longer distances and cost less. But whether that will be enough to win over Australia’s petrol heads remains to be seen.