Electric or Petrol Cars

Some say Electric cars will not outpace petrol cars because of range. The Labor party in Australia has a policy of 50% of electric cars by 2030. (which I think is a bit ambitious). The Liberal and National Party does not have one. It was interesting to see when Labor said they were aiming for 50% electric cars by 2030. The reply from the LNP was that it takes over 8 hours to charge them. Well, this is true if the battery is flat and you plug it into your domestic outlet. But let us think about this and inject some facts and practicalities.

The first thing I thought of was what the daily average distance driven by cars in Australia. Apparently it is 15530 km per year averaging out to 43km per day. Then we consider what is most driving performed for. I bet we can say commuting. Well, here we are with a car petrol tank full of petrol and commute on an average of 21.5 km there and back. How much petrol have you left in the tank when you get home? Again here you are, you have an electric car fully charged commuting the same distance how much charge do you have when you get home? Now we have to consider how far an electric car will travel on a full charge. Yes, total distance today is less than a full tank of petrol but there are other things to consider.

If we take the latest Tesla electric car, the Model S with an extended battery, it is said according to the manufacturer that it is able to drive a smidgen under 500 kilometers on a single charge. So off you go commuting the 43km, how much charge do you have left when you get home? Well, if all you are doing is commuting then that means you can commute for about 11 days without charging. Whoopee! You simply get into the habit of plugging in every time you get home and as you have only used one-eleventh of the charge. How long does it take to fully charge for your commute the next day? 40 minutes. Wow! that’s just about the time it takes to have your dinner and your petrol engine car still doesn’t have a full tank. Guess what? your electric car has a full charge and it probably cost only 50 cents to charge whereas your petrol car probably cost you $3 to $5 to fill up.

I live in Melbourne Australia, what about my trip to Sydney? Oh! dear an electric car will only get you half way there. A petrol car a bit further and you can expensively fill up in a few minutes. A electric car will take 8 minutes at a fast charge outlet. So what! go and have a coffee you are not going to drive all the way to Sydney non stop anyway without a rest. I personally in the last 3 years haven’t traveled more than 200 km one way and I live in the country. One has to consider how many long trips have you made in the last year.

One could also say, There are not many charging stations out there (there are actually more than you think and increasing). Think back, how many petrol stations were there out there when the petrol motor car first came into being.

Let’s have another look at commuting in an electric car. The Tesla distance is at a 100km speed. Sorry, but you do not generally drive at this speed when commuting. What about all those traffic jams that get worse the closer you get to the city. So while you are sitting for five minutes or more while waiting for things to move what is your electric engine doing? “Nothing”. It’s not turning just like your electric drill when you are not drilling. What is your petrol engine doing? chuntering away spewing noxious fumes and wearing out your engine and using your precious petrol. I will let someone else work out on a commuting basis whether a petrol car can commute as far as an electric car considering that petrol cars range is drastically reduced in city traffic.

Lets now look at evolution. My first laptop cost me almost $2500 ( a heck of a lot in those days) and it only had a 10megabyte drive and DOS. 30 years later you can buy one for less than $500 with terabyte drives and a 1000 times more powerful. It’s all about take-up and technical advances. The first Tesla electric car was produced in 2008 12years ago. I ponder what was said when petrol cars started replacing horses donkey’s years back. So what do you think is better for the future and the environment, petrol or electric cars?