Electric vehicles: The good, the bad and the ugly

😃 The Good: Saves money in the long run
😔 The Bad: Big upfront costs
😢 The Ugly: They can create heaps of waste

If seeing a Tesla driving down your street still feels like a bit of a novelty, you’d be right. In fact electric vehicles make up just 3.39 per cent of all our new car sales.

Compared to Germany at 26 per cent and the global average at 8.6 per cent we are way behind the rest of the world. And when EV's are better for the environment and are cheaper to run, what's the hold up?

You’ll save money! (in the long run)

Fact: EV’s are cheaper to run and have lower maintenance costs than a regular car (that’s an internal combustion engine (ICE) cars if you want the official name).

Choosing an EV over a regular car can save you $1,913 per year which isn’t too shabby. (Especially when cost of living is on the rise.)

How is this number worked out? The average Aussie spends $2,160 on fuel in a regular vehicle a year to drive 15,000 kilometres. That’s about $0.14 per kilometre.

An electric vehicle can be charged for $600 per year, reducing that to just $0.04 per kilometre. That’s a pretty big saving right there.

Telsa electric vehicle charging in Australia.
EV’s are cheaper to run and have lower maintenance costs than a regular car. (Source: Getty)


The upfront costs

Despite their futuristic good looks and much cheaper running costs EV’s are still bloody expensive to buy.

“A big barrier is cost because electric vehicles are much more expensive than their petrol equivalents,” Dr Kai Li Lim, St Baker E-Mobility Fellow at The University of Queensland, said.

For example - the most popular EV in Australia is currently the Tesla Model 3, which rings in at around $65,000. That’s some serious cash if you consider a new Toyota Corolla, or Mazda CX5 can be bought brand spanking new for under $35,000.

That said, it is possible to recoup your costs in fuel and maintenance. And you could get your money back quicker if you opt for a cheaper EV.

“There’s also the lack of models and options, including the lack of utes,” Dr Lim said.

But currently if you want to go electric, you’ll be looking at shelling out a lot more cash for your car in the first place.


Electronic waste

EV’s are marketed as clean, green and just a little bit sexy. But wait, what about those batteries that power the cars?

Greenpeace estimates that 12.85 million tonnes of EV lithium-ion batteries will go offline by 2030. At the same time, 10.35 million tonnes of lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese will be mined for new batteries.

Currently an EV battery is estimated to last for between 10 to 20 years. But what happens after that?

“There are a lot of precious materials in the batteries that need to be recycled.....unfortunately, there’s not much in terms of battery recycling yet in Australia, ” Dr Lim said

Right now, most of the batteries go back to the vehicle manufacturers, so whether they get repurposed comes down to them.


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