Chris Williams is a GS member & BEV convert. He and his family are doing what they can to live with a low carbon footprint. Their farmhouse, built in the 1880's, has never been on the electricity grid. Since 1984, their home has been powered by a small solar and battery system. While their second car is a hybrid, there are still fossil fuel engines in their life.
Purchasing our BEV
When you purchase a Battery Electric Vehicle, (BEV), you really do embark on a journey of discovery. For many people, the journey begins long before the purchase. Our journey began as part of a mission to minimise our impact on the planet, specifically reducing our transport emissions. Currently the purchase price for a BEV can make the initial journey appear more challenging than it need be. The lower overall running costs of BEVs can help overcome much of this disadvantage.
There are fewer moving parts in a BEV so there are few components such as timing belts, engine oil or filters to replace or change. Using regenerative braking by lifting your foot off the accelerator is a great way to save wear on your brakes plus it generates more electricity for you to use on your journey!
Starting our journey
We started our journey when we took delivery of our BEV in September 2020. Our vehicle has an 80kwh battery, 2 electric motors as well as the usual driver assist technologies. The car is connected to the internet and has an app that enables us to manage battery charging and other functions. As of July 2021, we have travelled 16,000km.
The range of our vehicle is around 400km with a full battery. Note that highway driving uses more energy than lower speed city driving. On two return trips from Geelong to Canberra, the car used 22.5kwh per 100 km travelling at 110kph.
A typical trip & ‘refueling’ stops
Let’s follow this Geelong-Canberra journey in battery charging terms. Leaving Geelong with the battery at 90% charge, we stopped for a break at the Euroa highway services centre, some 236km along the highway. Opening the ChargeFox app on our phone, we logged in as a registered user and plugged into the RACV Ultra Rapid chargers.
The car and the charger communicated with each other for a few seconds and then the charging process began. The car can take up to 110kw of input so the recharge rate is about 10km per minute. A quick calculation means that thirty minutes of charge should give us a range of around 300km.
As the charging process is automatic it gave us time to wander over to buy a coffee and return at our leisure. The car and the charger work together to protect themselves from any overcharging with the charging rate slowing as the batteries approach the full level.
Upon return, we often found a curious person looking at what was happening with the car. Conversations invariably started with the question: ‘What’s the range?’ The second question was: ‘How long does it take to fill?’ The typical charging time including chat to onlookers is about 30 minutes.
Continuing our journey, we stopped at the same places we used to stop in our old diesel vehicle – Barnawartha Service Centre (briefly), Holbrook and Gundagai. On this trip we recharged rather than ‘filled up’. Each time we drew on varying amounts of energy, all of it from renewable sources.
The Euroa and Barnawartha sites each have a solar array in an enclosure near the chargers.
There is also a large battery unit to retain the electricity generated so that it can be provided later as DC power used by BEV’s.
There are several apps that you can use to locate these charging facilities. PlugShare is a popular app that you can use at no cost. You will see the various types of chargers and the rapidly growing number of them across the country. Plug in facilities are in place from Port Lincoln (South Australia) to Port Douglas (far north Queensland). State and local governments across the nation are supporting the installation of numerous EV charging units in 2021 – 22. Norway has more than 16,000 chargers, Australia has 2307 car chargers (2020).
So, what do I think about electric cars after nine months of EV driving?
Electric vehicles change the way you think about cars and the way you behave. You don’t go to the fossil fuel service station unless you are on a long trip and the highway service centre has what you need. You can plug in at home every day if you need to, it’s just like charging a mobile phone!
The cars are quiet and very quick ~ when required. Cities will be healthier places when EVs become the norm. We’ll know we're there when the information here is common knowledge (or superseded) and conversations don’t start with, ‘What’s the range?’