The Well Educated Yet EV Misinformed
Today’s story is inspired by my visit to the dentist. Before she filled my mouth with instruments and her assistant began the incessant sucking out of my saliva, we had a short chat about electric vehicles. She knows I drive a Tesla because I told her a few months ago when I suffered a broken tooth.
Today was a less traumatic followup appointment. In the process, we discussed the usual things — time and costs for charging, fo example. She was amazed at how cheap electricity was compared to petrol — no one reads their electricity bill. She found it confusing that that charging takes various amounts of time depending on what power level you access — a home socket compared to a Supercharger. I did tell her that the faster the charge, the more expensive it could be.
“Expensive?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “You can pay upwards of 80¢ per kWh at a Supercharger, compared with 25 cents at home.”
“So, how much to fill up your battery at a Supercharger?”
“Oh, about $12.”
She gasped, “that’s not expensive!” (Petrol sells for over $2 a litre currently in Brisbane. I can get as far on a kWh as I used to travel on a litre of petrol in my last ICE car.)
Then she asked me the most interesting question I had ever heard. “Do you keep a spare battery in your garage for your car? My husband has a battery-powered screwdriver and he has to have a spare in case the battery goes flat.” Tempted as I was, I didn’t get into the varies battery chemistries, but we did have a short conversation about battery degradation (which I am not experiencing in my Tesla) and ended with “Do you keep a spare internal combustion engine in your garage just in case you need it?”
The dental assistant chimed in with, “We drive a hybrid Prius because my husband is frightened that we might run out of charge on the highway.” She told me she had never seen a high-speed EV charger on the highway.
These were two highly educated people. Sadly, not educated in the ways of EVs, and probably misinformed by the prevailing FUD.
After the instruments were removed from my mouth 20 minutes later and the dentist arranged my next appointment, she told me of her 5-year plan. “Our next car will definitely be electric!” she said. I missed a golden opportunity to tell her that in 5 years time she may not have much choice, most new cars for sale will be electric.
I advised them to download the PlugShare app and acquaint themselves with just how many chargers there are for electric vehicles. Within 2 km of my house, we have free public chargers under the council library and government vehicle electric chargers behind the technical and further education (TAFE) college on the other side of the hill. I see this just on my nightly walk with the dog.
At present, Brisbane City Council has EV chargers in the city and at Bracken Ridge Library. A bit further afield is the high-speed Amp Charge at the Ampol servo on the highway.
There is no shortage of chargers. But people don’t see them unless they are looking for them. And of course, most people charge at home in the privacy of their garage, as all polite EV drivers who have the chance like to do.
The Queensland state government has built an electric superhighway all along the coast and is presently expanding it westwards to open up regional areas for tourists with EVs. New fast chargers are opening up every week all the way out to Mt Isa. Tesla has already rolled out destination chargers to motels in all the major towns, and MG is doing the same at tourist destinations.
I have been reliably informed that the Queensland government will continue to electrify its fleet of vehicles. They no longer plan to buy any more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Thank goodness. “Their aim is for 100% of eligible Queensland government fleet passenger vehicles to be zero emission by 2026.” So, there is still a little wiggle room for ICE, but the direction is very clear.
“Every new TransLink funded bus added to the fleet will be a zero emission bus from 2025 in South East Queensland and from 2025–2030 across regional Queensland.”
Recently Transgrid took delivery of an LDV electric ute for a suitability trial. The writing is on the wall.
The tide has turned. Rupert Murdoch is sitting watching the Super Bowl with Elon Musk. His flagship paper in Australia produced a 14-page liftout of information on electric vehicles — heavily slanted towards Audi which paid for 4 full-page ads. It’s not just Teslas on the Aussie highways, though, but also BYDs, MGs, and Polestars.
We even see items about EVs on the news. Obviously, the featured EV is usually related to sponsors for that particular TV channel. For example, we had a news item on Channel 10 (first at 5) last night lauding the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for its ability to power your house in a blackout. I’m not sure if that is a good sell, in that the battery is only 20 kWh (for 84 km all-electric range). The website tells me that it has bidirectional charging, though. “Using bi-directional charging technology, the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid EV’s high-capacity battery can power your home for days during an outage or an emergency. Unused energy captured by regenerative braking while driving can also be sold back into the grid.” That’s a bit of a hard sell. Someone with more knowledge than I have, please tell me how long I can power my home from a 20 kWh battery. As far as regenerative power, doubt if you could make that much to run your car and power your house.
EV ads during the Super Bowl, EV news on TV, more and more chargers going in. More and more people are telling their neighbours, relatives, and even their healthcare professionals about the benefits of electric cars. Soon, the well-educated will be better educated as they see the rEVolution take place before their very eyes. And even if they don’t believe that, they can always go and see Ant-Man and The Wasp.