Which EV?

Three electric carsWe purchased a used MG ZS EV Essence.

Our purchasing decision was shaped by…

  • Cost
  • Battery size / range
  • Body shape
  • Dashboard / Tech
  • Cost
  • Single vs Twin motors (2WD vs AWD) wasn’t an issue for us

Vehicle cost and Battery size

Vehicle cost and battery size are very much related, given that the battery is such a major – and expensive – component of any Electric Vehicle.

Bigger battery = longer range = more dollars.

Battery size vs costElectric vehicles are considerably more expensive to purchase than their petrol / diesel powered equivalents – though they are gradually becoming more affordable.

Battery size determines how far you can travel between battery recharges. Again, it is early days, and battery technologies will evolve and improve along the way. I have no doubt that we will look back at the vehicles that are available today and shake our heads when comparing them to the vehicles of the future. Already researchers are experimenting with materials that will result in batteries that provide a range in excess of 800 kms.

EVs with battery sizes under 55 kWh (range of around 250 – 300 km) are more suited to ‘around town’ and commuter transport, rather than regular inter-urban or holiday travel. If you are travelling under 150 kms each day this is well within the range of EVs with smaller batteries, which can be re-charged overnight at home.

Mid-size batteries (60 kWh) are a good compromise, with a range around 350 kms, which would be OK for longer journeys if you were confident of being able to connect to a charger when you needed a re-charge to continue your trip.

More expensive vehicles with larger battery capacity (70 kWh+) are able to travel distances of over 400 km before requiring a recharge. These more expensive vehicles also often have more ‘high tech’ options included. Again, regardless of the cost of the vehicle, longer journeys are dependent on the availability of chargers, which is becoming less certain as more EVs are on the road and looking for a recharge.

Reality? Most of our travel is ‘local’, well within the capacity of a smaller battery.

Body shape

There wasn’t too much variety in the body shape of the first generation of electric vehicles, with many of the early EVs shaped like a traditional sedan ‘coupe’ – similar to the Tesla.

There are now a number of EVs shaped more like a traditional family SUV – the Hyundai Kona, MG ZS EV and BYD Atto are all examples in the sub $70k price range.

BMW, Jaguar, Volvo and Mercedes also offer SUV body styles, but are well out of our price range, some at over $100k.

EVs with sedan and SUV shapes

Driver Interface – Dashboard and Tech Stuff

Tesla led the way with modern EVs, along with their high-tech interface between driver and vehicle. The only interface for the operation of a Tesla is through a touch screen in the centre of the dashboard – even for simple operations like opening the glove box – which can be very frustrating.

At the other end of the spectrum, MG have taken a regular car, removed the combustion engine and added an electric motor, leaving the driver interface to be much more traditional. There is even a handle on the glove box!

Other EVs have found a place in between the above extremes on the tech-interface scale.

Worth keeping in mind when choosing a vehicle.

Dashboards compared

New or Used?

Used EVs are gradually finding their way on to the market, as early adopters update to newer vehicles. Keep in mind too that some state governments offer significant rebates on new EVs, which should be considered when comparing new and used vehicle prices.

Used car for saleThese subsidies will also influence the price of a used EV, as the pricing generated by these subsidies flows down through the market.

Governments are now purchasing new EVs for their fleets, and these will find their way through to the used market over the next few years.

We purchased a used EV from a private seller, 12 months old with 14,000 kms on the clock. The vehicle still has 6 years remaining of its original 7 year warranty. The seller had updated to a new EV of the same brand, as the new model has a larger battery and improved towing capacity. We paid about $10,000 less than the new car price, taking into account the current $3,000 rebate (NSW).

We were also mindful of the fact that the resale value of our current petrol-powered vehicle is going to decrease once the price of used EVs drops down into the price range of used petrol-powered vehicles – and we need to sell our petrol-fuelled car to fund the EV purchase. I expect that there will be some real ICEV (internal combustion engine vehicle) bargains in the not-too-distant future for those not upgrading to an EV.

One thing that is certain though …… even with free electricity it will take a long time for fuel and servicing savings to balance out the higher up-front cost of an EV – even a relatively cheap EV. This will change over time, but for now the purchase of an EV is an early adoption / ethical / environmental / experimental toe-dip into a new transport technology.

Single vs Twin Motors

A single motor, driving one axle, is the standard option on most EVs, and is equivalent to 2WD. Twin motors, with a motor driving both front and rear axles, provides the equivalent of AWD, plus additional power, but at the expense of consuming more battery capacity than a single motor.

So, which EV for you?

Thinking personHorses for courses. For suburban commuting to work, shopping, weekend sport, family visits, etc, a 50kW battery in a small to medium SUV will be just fine.

If you regularly travel longer distances, then a vehicle with a larger battery is a good option.

If you enjoy ‘performance’ driving, or winning the the traffic light blast-off then a twin motor vehicle might be just the ticket (they are very fast!)

With any of these options, a 7kW wall charger installed in the garage at home is the key to providing cheap and reliable battery charging. Especially if your energy reseller provides a discount off-peak EV charging option. (If they don’t, find another reseller.)

Another reality check is that for many families, an EV will most likely be a second vehicle, so a petrol/diesel powered vehicle can still be available when required.

More reading….