One of the hurdles facing electric vehicle sales in Australia is the perception that their fully charged range isn’t generous enough to drive around in this big country of ours.
That might be true for the occasional interstate trip, but newly released Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal that fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have more than enough juice in their batteries for most people’s day-to-day driving.
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The figures, compiled from the 2016 Census, show most Australians travel less than 20km to get to work, with 79 percent of them making the journey by private car.
The longest commute was for people who lived outside Perth, as you’d expect in Australia’s biggest state, though even out west the average distance was just 20km.
Queenslanders commute on average 16.4km, but that number decreased for Brisbane residents whose 15.4km trip to work matched that of their Melbourne and Sydney colleagues.
These distances, and the trip home, are well within the range of the few all-electric vehicles and the plug-in hybrids available in Australia. Yet of the 1.9 million cars sold here in 2017 only 1123 were electric, including the BMW i3 with its all-electric 200km range, and Tesla Model S and Model X, which can travel between 417 and 613km depending on variant.
These will be soon be joined new EVs, such as the Jaguar I-Pace, that can travel up to 481km between charging and the 2019 Nissan Leaf that has a 362km range.
Even if you allow for a reduction in ultimate range from cranking up the air-con on a hot day, that’s more than enough battery power for the average person to drive to and from work and do other things for a full week, before worrying about their next charge; which can be done overnight.
Sadly though, even as we overcome some of the hurdles to EV ownership such as cost, charging infrastructure and charging times, it won’t necessarily make that trip to work any easier, with roads becoming more clogged due to the widening gulf between people driving to work and using public transport.
Sydney has the best ratio between the two, with around 24 percent of people using public transport compared to about 60 percent who drive.
But that gap widens as the cities get smaller with less than 20 percent of Melbournians using public transport compared to about 70 percent who drive, down to Darwin where around 6.0 percent use public transport compared to 75 percent car patronage.