Electric Dreams

I followed a Tesla for about 20km today. It wasn’t deliberate. We just happened to be going the same way. It was a matter of curiosity for me, as Tasmania isn’t exactly rife with electromobiles, so I paid attention to what I could see.

It was surprisingly weird to be looking at the back end of an automobile and NOT to see any exhaust ports, mufflers, etc. Not in-your-face weird; just a sort of nagging “something’s not right here” until I realized what was going on.

I’d been told about the acceleration available to Teslas. Now I’ve seen it in action, and I admit I’m impressed. I get around in a Subaru with a turbo diesel boxer engine — an “Outback”. It’s got some pretty serious acceleration itself, and the kind of road handling you’d expect from an all-wheel-drive vehicle… but the way the Tesla ramped up to 100k as we left the city limits was sobering to see.

Nat’s old car — a Ford Econetic Fiesta — is getting to its last legs. It’s served well, but in its dotage (somewhere around ten to fifteen years?) it’s becoming seriously weird and unreliable. We were really hoping we could go straight to an electric vehicle in replacement, but Nat does a lot of driving and 500km on a charge is her sticking point. And so far in Australia, that cannot be had for less than $50,000 — which we really don’t have. (Thanks, Scummo — your government’s support for electric vehicles is right up there with your support for women.)

Of course, $50,000 looks like a lot in one hit — and it is. But it’s still a tough call. The ongoing economies of electric vehicles are really attractive. Without things like transmissions, clutch systems, radiators, fuel pumps, oil pumps, exhaust manifolds and a few others, there are far, far fewer things to go wrong on an EV. The current thinking is that a decent EV should be good for about a million km, as opposed to the 300,000 km you can reasonably expect from current internal combustion engines. So in theory, that $50k sticker price should be thought of as more like $20k or so, given that you should get three times the use out of the car. Add to that the very significant reduction in ongoing maintenance due to the reduced numbers of systems and moving parts, and over a 20 year period a $50k EV starts to look really, really good.

But that sticker price is still very steep. I think we’re going to enter yet another haves vs have-nots phase shortly. People who can afford it will go over to EVs and save a bunch of money in the long run. People who don’t have the up-front cash (or the necessary credit score) will have to stick with expensive, unreliable, polluting ICVs until… well…

I guess until there’s a significant second-hand market in EVs. And with Scummo’s shitshow of a government in place, that’s going to be a long way off.


  1. Andrew Reilly · · Reply

    First place that I saw lots of EVs was around Europe, where Teslas (and after them electric Renaults and what not) were rapidly drafted into the ranks of Taxis. Makes plenty of sense: dominant cost is running: maintenance and fuel. Electricity was about 1/5 the price of diesel there at the time, per road-km. Plenty of roadside charging stations: no-brainer.

    I read an article this week where the Australian manager of VW said that they weren’t going to import any of their “cheaper” electric models while the government and regulatory position was so “unhelpful”. Their ID.3 and ID.4 look nice, but you can’t get them here.

    I’m hoping that our 21-year-old Forrester hangs on long enough to be replaced by an electric equivalent. I can’t look at a petrol car now without thinking how anachronistic it is: dirty and noisy and downright flimsy. Been waiting for the electric Volvo V40 for years, and it still isn’t available. Maybe next year?

    We’re ruled by morons.

    1. That last line: I think you’ve cut straight to the heart of the matter.

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