Electric Cars are becoming the new favourite of the motoring world and there’s no wonder why. They’re environmentally friendly, have lower operating costs, and need minimal maintenance. A greater number of electric cars are now available in the market as well. And with charging stations accessible all over the country, these emission-free vehicles are have become a realistic option for the driving public. Understandably, the options in the market can be confusing, especially to the first time buyer, so we have put together this handy guide to electric cars and a list of upcoming models in Australia.

Types of Electric Cars

Currently, there are three types of electric cars available in dealerships: the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), and the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Toyota PriusThis electric car still has an internal combustion engine but added with an electric motor that charges every time the vehicle brakes (regenerative brake technology). The resulting electric energy is then stored to a battery, which powers the electric drive motor to run the vehicle. Some models of HEVs generate electric power by spinning an electric generator to supply power to the battery. One of the most popular HEVs around the world is the Toyota Prius.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Much like HEVs, PHEVs also have a combination of combustion and electric engine. The batteries can also be charged by regenerative breaking or electric generator. The only difference is the capability of PHEVs to be plugged into electric outlets so the vehicles can run on pure electric power alone for a short period until the batteries drain. BMW i3, i8 and VW Golf GTE are some examples of PHEVs available in Australia.

Battery Electric Vehicle

Nissan LeafBEVs are all-electric vehicles. They run on pure electricity alone, which is probably what most people think of when they hear electric cars. BEVs have electric motors that are powered by several battery packs and can be charged at electric charging stations spread throughout the country. The best-selling all-electric car worldwide is the Nissan Leaf, followed by the Tesla Model S.

Electric Car Technology

Next in this guide to electric cars is the technology that runs most BEVs. It is composed of three parts: the motor, the motor controller, and the electric battery. The motor, of course, produces the electricity needed to run the vehicle. An electric car has either a DC electric motor (brushed) or AC electric motor (brushless). The first hybrid cars and electric cars use DC electric motors, while more recent ones are equipped with AC motors. Between the two motor types, AC electric motors have no brushes that are prone to wearing out. They are also much easier to build.

Electric cars also have motor controllers and battery packs. Motor controllers regulate the power that flows to the DC or AC motor, while the battery pack (electric batteries are composed of electrochemical cells) stores electricity when you charge the electric car. Until 2010, electric cars were installed with lead-acid batteries, while the more modern ones are equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

Charging Guide

Charging electric vehicles is not all that different to charging your mobile phone or laptop. At home, you can connect the cars’ chargers at the same wall sockets that you use to power appliances. Or, you can use the public charging points while on the road. Just recently, an electric vehicle charging network was built to cover 17,000 km of road distance around Australia, spaced at an average of 200km apart.

Charging Level

There are charging levels for an electric vehicle. Charging levels (Level 1 to 3) determine the rate or speed of charging your electric car, with the highest level being the fastest charger. The only exception to this rule is the Level 2 AC charger, which is faster than a Level 3 DC Charger.

A Level 1 charger is the same as your home wall sockets and has a 7-15km/hr charging speed. 10 hours of charging with Level 1 will give your electric car a 100 to 130 kilometre range. Level 1 chargers are just right for PHEVs with small battery packs.

On the other hand, Level 2 chargers have higher charging rates. You can find them at public charging stations but you can also have them installed at home. Level 2 chargers have up to 100km/hr charging speed with up to 22kw power. Public Level 2 chargers can power large electric vehicles in 4 to 5 hours.

Lastly, Level 3 chargers are capable of up to 800km/hr charging rate and can fully-charge a BEV in just 20 minutes. This charger level is ideal for electric cars that are traveling for long distances. Most Tesla charging stations have Level 3 chargers.

Charger Types

There are four types of chargers for electric cars: the chargers being the physical connectors that you plug into the electricity source. These chargers are Type 1 (J1772), Type 2 (Mennekes), Type 3 (Scame), and Type 4 (CHAdeMO). Tesla cars, for example, commonly use a modified Type 2 charger.

Major EV models

Some of the popular electric car brands in Australia are Renault, BMW and Tesla. If you are looking for a more affordable option, the Renault Zoe hatchback and Renault Kangoo ZE van range from $42,000 to $46,000. BMW, on the other hand, has the i3 model which costs around $64,000 and has a range of up to 200km on a fully-charged battery.

Meanwhile, at the steeper end of the scale are the Tesla electric car models. You can find the Model X and Model S in the market right now but they will cost you more than $100,000 each.

Future releases

Tesla Model 3Aside from these popular brands and models, there are other HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs that will hit the Australian automotive market soon. Included in the latest batch of electric vehicles is the Hyundai IONIQ Electric, which will be available in hybrid, plug-in, and pure electric variants. The most popular electric car, the Nissan Leaf, will also come to Australia with a 2018 model before year-end.

2019 is also shaping up to be an exciting year in electric cars with the upcoming launch of the following vehicles: Hyundai Kona, a full-electric SUV; Tesla Model 3, the cheapest Tesla car at $52,000 (pictured); and Mitsubishi MiEV, a compact and pure electric version of the Mitsubishi i.

Get electric car financing with CarFinance.com.au

Now that you have some more information about electric cars and how they work, it might be time to get your own. Electric cars are the future of transportation in Australia and around the world, which you definitely need to be a part of.

CarFinance.com.au can help you with that. Call us or apply online for a pre-approved car loan using our simple application form.

Images courtesy MyElectricCar