To EV or not EV, that is the question... or will be soon
There’s the whiff of change in the air and, maybe soon, the sweet smell of exhaust fumes and the growl of the internal combustion engine will be giving way to . . . well . . . not a lot actually - just fresh air and a barely audible whirring sound perhaps.
It has been a long time coming, but the rise of the electric vehicle (EV) as a real choice for the Australian motorist is just about here.
The new symbols of this change come in the form of the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which is about to go on sale in Australia, and the electric Kona SUV which will land on these shores in the early part of 2019.
They look like quality machines – the Ioniq Electric comes with an 88Kw/295Kw electric motor and a range of 230km, while the Kona has a 150Kw/395Nm electric motor and a range of 482km and, as with all new vehicles these days, they both come with a smorgasbord of high-tech and safety goodies.
Available in two trim levels, Elite and Premium, the Ioniq Electric will be available from $44,990 for the Elite and $48,990 for the Premium.
The electric Kona will come in somewhere in the mid-$50,000 range.
That’s still a lot of money, of course, but it’s not silly money, and along with other EVs that are either already on sale here or will be soon - such as the new Nissan Leaf (to go on sale mid-2019) and the Renault Zoe (available now) – they herald the start of an invasion of affordable EVs.
And that invasion will be impressive.
Major manufacturers have piled on board the EV express.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance aims to launch 12 new EV models by 2022, VW has plans for 27 EV models by the same year and Ford says it is to invest billions over the next five years and have 16 fully electric vehicles in its portfolio by 2022.
Daimler, too, is ploughing billions into the development of its EQ vehicle brand and, again by 2022, says it will have 10 different all-electric models in the market.
Then there is Tesla – once a scrappy auto start-up and now the hulking gorilla of the EV world.
The company’s Model 3 has become a bona fide monster hit in the U.S. and is approaching 100,000 sales for 2018, even though the entry-level version, proposed to sell for $US35,000 (about $AU48,000), is yet to appear.
While global EV sales figures are still small (about 2 per cent of new car sales in 2017) and Australian EV sales even smaller (just 2400 units were sold in 2017), as the model choice expands and technology (better batteries) and infrastructure (more and faster charging stations) continues to improve in quality and scale, things will change, and fast.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts another million EV sales will be made globally within six months, and according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency, the number of EVs on the world’s roads could reach 125 million by 2030.
Some of the concerns we may have over EVs can surely put to rest.
Take range anxiety, for example.
As can be judged by the two Hyundai models, 200km and upwards on a single charge will be the norm (and will get better) and when you think about it, just how many kms do you do in a day anyway?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average travelling distance to work is 16km. Easy.
And as for charging, that infrastructure continues to grow - there is, for instance, the Queensland Electric Super Highway, a network of charging stations that can ensure a comfortable trip from the Gold Coast to Cairns – and if you consider how it has become second nature to plug in and charge your smartphone before your head hits the pillow at night, so it will surely prove with your car.
The EV revolution is on our doorstep – it’s almost time to plug in.
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Jonathan has been writing about the auto industry for years and is particularly interested in the high-tech innovations sweeping the industry.
He’d love to own a Tesla Model S, but also adores anything with a V8 under the bonnet.
He has yet to decide between an EV or a Mustang for his next ride.