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RACQ Futures Pavilion 2022. Photo courtesy Arran Blomfield, TOCA.

Clean Transport

Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Ramps Up Involvement with EVs

It’s not the highest definition photo in the world, but below is a picture of boats on the horizon delivering thousands of Teslas to Australia. Penetration rates have hit about 4%, and even more in the 4th quarter  of 2022. Now the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) has launched a website dedicated to informing its members about electric vehicles.

RACQ

RORO car carrier, docked in Brisbane, as seen from my back deck. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth..

I have watched the RACQ as they have tentatively moved towards electrics. The first positive sign was when I needed roadside assistance for my classic 1964 Wolseley and asked the mechanic if RACQ was preparing for the rEVolution. He responded by telling me that they had some vehicles with onboard chargers (this was more than 2 years ago). Good news, me thinks.

RACQ

Here’s a closeup — used by permission.

Over the past two years, there have been some interesting letters to the editor in the RACQ magazine (The Road Ahead), with the usual FUD included. A few articles compared the costs of EVs to fossil fuel cars (without taking into account the cost of petrol) and of course the Futures Pavilion at the RACQ motor show. The Futures Pavilion was a great success last year (2022), with the support of the Tesla Owners Club of Australia (TOCA) and the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA).

RACQ

RACQ Futures Pavilion 2022. Photo courtesy Arran Blomfield TOCA

On this new webpage, RACQ answers questions about EVs. The club is obviously trying to keep its options open and remain relevant during the transition. The website suffers from the same problems of all news reporting on EVs — the sector is moving too fast to keep up.

Advice depends heavily on the Australian Government’s Green Vehicle guide. RACQ takes a relatively even handed, or even “neutral,” stance on EVs with what appears to be minimum FUD influence. Two concerns to me are the mentioning of high costs to replace the traction battery (a rarity) and the problems with slow home charging (who cares, I am watching telly).

RACQ states its position thus:

  • RACQ encourages the take-up of all low-emission vehicles, regardless of the technology they use.
  • RACQ believes that EVs will inevitably become much more common.
  • EVs are only one potential solution to vehicle emission related issues — however, at this point they are the most market-ready.

“The electric vehicle (EV) revolution has begun. It started with scientists and engineers who dared to reimagine the engine. Manufacturers followed, creating low and no emission alternatives to petrol-powered cars. Now, legislators are incentivising drivers to adopt these new technologies. At RACQ, we advocate for you to have a range of affordable electric cars to choose from and EV charging infrastructure that makes it easy to switch.

“The page gives members the information they need to make informed decisions as they consider transitioning from a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle to an electric car.

“The new EV page is a great resource for members wanting to learn more about electric cars as they consider making the switch.

“As well as being a great source of information on EVs, charging options and recharging infrastructure, the page will also be regularly updated with the latest news on future mobility, including reviews of new car models.”

The website attempts to answer most common questions about EVs with simple language. That includes:

  • What is the difference between an EV, a hybrid vehicle and an EV with range extender?
  • How “green” are EVs?
  • Why aren’t EVs more common?
  • Limited model range and high prices
  • Long recharge times if no fast charge facility is available
  • Range anxiety and public perceptions of EV practicality
  • Limited recharge option [home charging mentioned and noted as slow]
  • Market segment limitations
  • Uncertainty about battery life and replacement cost
  • Uncertainty about vehicle resale and residual value
  • How long are EV battery warranties?
  • How do I find recharging facilities?
  • How does the electricity cost for an EV compare with fuel consumption of a conventional car?
  • How far can an EV be driven on a single charge?
  • How do maintenance costs of EVs compare with conventional models? [concern about replacing the batteries]
  • Are EVs safe?

The website also does a good job of describing the various electric cars, from mild hybrids, to HEVs, to PHEVs and BEVs. Though, I did have a little chuckle when the author described the Toyota HEV as “an easy transitional step towards a BEV for people who may be nervous about EV technology and electric range anxiety.” And then: “If HEVs are the first step on the journey to electrification, PHEVs are the next, effectively bridging the gap between HEVs and BEVs.”

A lot of people go straight from diesel and petrol to BEV. The author seems to think we need to go through a process. His position on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is very realistic: “But despite the optimism around hydrogen as the ‘fuel of the future’, it’s unlikely HFCEVs will overtake BEVs any time soon, due to the lack of vehicle choices, high costs, and lack of specialised refuelling infrastructure.”

On a separate page explaining hybrids I found this illuminating comment: “Hybrid battery packs are very expensive to replace, and some potential hybrid buyers are concerned about the battery’s life expectancy. While we are aware of occasional battery failures, hybrid manufacturers generally offer a much longer warranty on the battery packs than is offered on the rest of the vehicle. It’s fair to say though that an out of warranty battery failure could render a hybrid vehicle uneconomical to repair in the same way a major engine or transmission failure would in an older conventional model.” So, it isn’t the BEVs that are the problem?

RACQ also operates as a bank and offers its members the RACQ Bank Green Car Loan — no fees, unlimited additional repayments, and a low fixed interest rate.

Although there is good advice about buying an EV, and models which will attract the state government rebate are reviewed, I think the most important thing to do is join a Facebook page to see what current owners think. These groups are a mine of information about real people having real experiences, good and not so good.

The website provides a good guide to the charging infrastructure currently available and informs readers that RACQ membership gives you a 20% discount when you charge with Chargefox (that’s better than a shopper docket 4c a litre).

The demand for EVs is expected to continue growing, especially as more models become available and their prices become more attractive to buyers,” RACQ predicts.

I’m looking forward to updates and more unbiased information as motoring groups get involved in the EV rEVolution and Queensland penetration rates.

 
 
 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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