December 28, 2016

Top 10 Things to Consider Before Buying an Electric Vehicle

Together with Chris Jones, Vice President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association or AEVA, after working on the Ultimate Guide to Buying an Electric Vehicle, we have put together a list of the top 10 things to consider before purchasing an electric vehicle in Australia.

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The list includes tips on whether you should convert or buy new, what range to look for, charging options available and information on battery health.

1. Is it right for me?

If you often drive more than 200km a day and have a car full of tools or other heavy equipment an electric car is probably not for you just yet. Most Australians of course, only drive around 40km a day and often have a second car. Why not swap the ‘runabout’ for an electric vehicle instead or use it as your main ride and hire a petrol car for extra-long trips outside of the city.

2. Convert or buy?

If the financial side of things is your main motivation for looking into electric vehicles, a production electric car from the manufacturer will give you the best value. Modern electric cars are great quality and usually come with very comprehensive warranties. Converting on the other hand, gives you the power to create something truly unique.

3. New or used?

The second hand EV market is slowly growing as more and more new electric vehicles enter the Aussie market, offering a more affordable entry point into owning your own EV. Aside from all the usual things to look out for in a used vehicle, such as rust, worn out tyres, ANCAP ratings and money owing, used electric cars have a few unique things to be aware of. Check the health of the battery, licensing and compliance paperwork. Also keep in mind that with converted cars, the DC motors lack regenerative braking so the brake pads will need to be replaced sooner.

4. It’s All About the Range

With usual use, battery capacity is reduced over time however range reduction in the newer models is fairly uncommon but you can reasonably expect to have just 80% of the quoted max range after around 5 years of use. However if you drive less than 40km a day, this reduction in range will not be an issue for you but if you’re counting on being able to take a 100km journey every now and then you’ll need to consider the model you’re buying very carefully.

5. Battery health and warranty claims

Make sure you consider the health of the battery when buying used or an ex-demo model. As batteries gradually lose their capacity over time this makes warranty clauses for EVs rather interesting so make sure you read up on the specifics involved.

6. Beware the guess-o-meter…

All production EVs come with a ‘Range Remaining’ display that is often quite optimistic after a full charge. This display will base its estimate on your latest driving patterns so if the last 10km you drove was all uphill it will probably come out fairly pessimistic instead.

7. Software/firmware/hardware upgrades

Perhaps one of the best things about getting a modern EV is the ease of which control software and firmware can be upgraded. For example, the Tesla Model S is upgraded over the air at regular intervals. These upgrades can improve the driving experience through bug fixes and new settings so be sure to check that the latest upgrades have been made before buying.

8. Charging requirements

If you have a garage or parking spot with power point handy, you’ll have the option of getting a dedicated EV charger from the dealership when purchasing a new electric vehicle. An ‘occasional use’ charging lead may be used instead which can often be cheaper, providing of course the power point supplying the electricity is up to the job. Different charging options are available depending on your needs.

9. Public charging options

One of the most important issues with EVs is having a common charge point in order to be compatible with public charging infrastructure that you may use. Make sure to check with public charging stations around you to see what models they support.

10. Charge from renewable power

Like most, if you’re main priority when purchasing an EV is the benefit to the environment, consider also purchasing green power from your electricity retailer who are required by act of parliament to provide you with renewable energy. If your provider is unable to, consider charging your car from a rooftop solar array instead.

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