Education may catapult electric vehicle growth

Electric vehicles represent a fundamental shift in vehicle technology. While some of the shift requires a change of behaviours, much of the shift relates to changes in favour of time and cost savings.

This reality is not yet widely understood and is the underpinning reason why a greater focus on electric vehicle education has the potential to catapult adoption.

A new way to charge

It’s not unusual for people to assume an electric vehicle still means plugging their car in at a petrol station, because that’s what they have known for all of their travelling life. The reality is nothing like that. Most charging happens at home or work. It makes suburban petrol station behaviour a thing of the past. In essence, electric vehicles are significantly more convenient and more flexible if perceived the right way. Where petrol dependence means you have to go somewhere and plan that into your day, electric vehicles turn that around completely. The productivity gain may seem small, but most people will know the stress of running on a low tank because their day didn’t pan out as hoped. With electric vehicle overnight charging at home, or the right scheduling with work fleets, that stress and hassle is removed.

A new way to save

The cost to run electric vehicles is far lower than a petrol vehicle – as little as one third the cost to recharge an electric vehicle over its petrol equivalent[1]. Electric vehicles are estimated to save the average Australian driver more than $1,500 each year in fuel costs[2], and save around $300 each year in maintenance costs.

For commercial buyers, while the upfront investment is notable, due to the new infrastructure required, the ongoing cost is significantly lower, with savings that quickly add up. For example, an electric vehicle has one third the components of a diesel vehicle, meaning around 66% fewer components to service. And the running costs are again significantly lower compared to fuel – a saving that will only improve as technology does.

If you consider this at a national level, there is a lot of hearsay in relation to the impacts of these shifts – for example on mechanics and petrol stations. However, what we need is to envisage the realities of a future with more electric vehicles and prepare for that. It will create new jobs and provide upskilling opportunities for mechanics. These cars still need to be serviced. And it will provide new revenue streams for petrol stations that are already often placed in locations ideally suited to providing fast-charging ‘top up’ services.

A new way to live

While electric vehicles certainly offer an exciting contribution to addressing climate change impacts, there are numerous immediate benefits to consumers and the country. The straightforward reduction of pollution is a huge one. Even noise pollution is cited as a major benefit, particularly in congested urban areas. The dramatic environmental improvements witnessed during the extreme challenges of COVID-19 did serve to demonstrate that a significant reduction in internal combustion engine car use and a switch to electric-powered vehicles will deliver measurable value – and faster than we may have once thought.

Importantly, all of this comes with an increasingly comparable – and impressive – driving experience. In fact, the torque and acceleration of the latest electric vehicles have resulted in outstanding performance that is outstripping the capabilities of internal combustion engine counterparts. The significant investments being made by car manufacturers will only see these performance benefits expand.

I’ve only provided a small snapshot of some of the highlights of electric vehicles. The main message is that empowering the shift is essential, and education can make a substantial difference in helping people envisage the benefits outside of the obvious.

This frequently asked questions document provides answers to some of the common questions about the cars, the technology, the energy and the infrastructure supporting the growing population of EVs around the world-about.

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About the author

David Sullivan

David Sullivan is the Head of Electrification business for ABB in Australia. He leads a technology portfolio that covers the full electrical value chain from substation to the point of consumption, enabling safer and more reliable power. He also oversees ABB Australia’s Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure and is a former Board Member of the Electrical Vehicle Council of Australia. David was appointed Head of Electrification in 2016 after leading the Medium Voltage business for three years and, prior to this, managing national sales and account management for the Power divisions. David has more than 20 years’ experience, both locally and internationally, in the electrical supply industry as it relates to Utilities, Process Industries and Minerals. He holds an Electrical Engineering Degree from University of NSW and a Masters of Business Administration from Open University UK.
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