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Victoria pondering its next EV move

Plugged in: This Toyota Prius PHEV is available for Moreland City Council staff to use on work errands.

Government’s $5 million trial ends soon, says EVs may not be cost-saving until 2020

General News logo19 Jul 2013

The Victorian Government has not yet decided how it will follow up on its well-received electric vehicle trial, which is due to finish in June 2014.

The trial has produced reams of useful data on vehicle performance and, more importantly, human performance, but wide acceptance of EVs is still several years away.

However, the trial has converted one significant person, state minister for public transport and roads Terry Mulder.

“I love EVs,” the Minister declared when launching the country’s first car-share scheme using plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) and the first publicly available fast-charge outlet.

“I drove one last year and was struck by the clarity of conversation with passengers, the sound from the sound system, the acceleration, the smoothness of the ride,” he said.

“They are fantastic vehicles.”

Mr Mulder said he believed the advent of fast charging would help change the doubters’ minds about EVs.

“The fast charge is the next big development, no doubt, in EVs,” he said.

“The stumbling block was seven to eight hours of charging, but it has been pointed out to me that you could head to a charge point, plug in and then wander off, do your shopping, come back with car charged or partly charged.

“This is going to make a huge amount of difference to the way people view EVs.”“We have 140 standard chargers rolled out around Melbourne. Quite obviously Moreland is leading the way with the first fast-charge point publicly available.”

The manager of the government’s EV trial, Tom Garrish, said no decisions had been made yet as to how, or if, the Government would follow up the EV trial.

“We are starting to think about what the future is for Victoria and what possible strategies or policies the government might be considering,” he said.

He said the trial has produced a lot of useful information, not least about driver behavior.

“We lent about 60 vehicles to households for two to three months: here’s a Leaf, here’s a charger on the garage wall, tell us what you think. We captured the data from the car and the charger.

“We wanted to know when they charge up, how long they charge for and how many kilometres they drive and whether it changes their driving habits.

“And the answer is no.”“If you are doing 30-40kms to work each day, people love it.”

The EVs went into multi-car households and proved ideal for the day-to-day running around households do.

“We think that, as the market develops, it will be the second cars that transfer to electric more quickly because they are doing the short trip stuff, not the holidays to Wilson’s Promontory.”

But that market development is going to take some years, he said, citing an external study commissioned by the government.

“We still think it’s a few years away before the typical car buyer thinks EVs are going to be cheap, although the purchase price is coming down.

“Nissan Leafs were $62,000 and are now $39,000.”“The modeling we have had done by an external consultancy suggested 2020 was likely, but obviously there is a lot of variation.

“But when you look at petrol heading north and EV running costs coming down, that’s when it starts making sense. It could be 2018, it might be 2022,” Mr Darrish said.

“Once you get to that point, our view is that Victorian households are then saving money.”

The first publicly available fast-charge outlet is located in Moreland, near the Moreland Council offices and adjacent to two level-two (slow) chargers.

The Moreland City Council has been working hard on reducing its emissions of climate change-inducing gases and was the third council in the country to be declared carbon neutral.

Moreland mayor Oscar Yildiz is very proud of the new fast-charge outlet, which Moreland calls Zap and Go.

“It removes the two most common barriers to EV driving, range anxiety and the recharge time,” he said.

Mr Yildiz announced that Moreland residents would be offered free use of the EV charging station for one year from today.

Council workers will be able to use a Prius PHEV owned by car-share business GoGet during the day while residents can use it out of hours and on weekends.

“The pilot will run until next March to assess the viability of council utilising a car share service along with the community.”

Mr Yildiz is very impressed by EVs.

“I took this car home last week and my teenage daughter asked will this car do 100, Dad?“I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So we took it Airport west shopping Centre.

“The pickup on the car was absolutely fantastic. No noise whatsoever. There’s no engine in the car.

“I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. Who needs a Lexus?”

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