“Oil On Road” … And Hotheads Too

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That’s what the sign said: “Oil On Road.” There must have been a spillage, or perhaps an accident. How long before there is no oil on the road? Probably decades — as electric transport slowly supplants the diesel and petrol cars and trucks of today. Even without accidents, there is always a film of oil on the road from unburnt fuel and dripping sumps. Watch the news after a little rain makes the oil and petrol float off the surface of the road, making it slippery. There are always accidents after the rain. As Queensland comes out of the dry season and the rain comes bucketing down, there is an increase in accidents. Do drivers forget how to drive in the wet?

EVs Will Solve Many Problems, Not All

More and more EVs on the road will reduce this hazard and make the air healthier also. There will be less stress from the noise of throbbing V8s. But the greatest danger on the road will remain — inconsiderate driver behaviour.

Every time I drive north up the three-lane M1, I am reminded of doing playground duty when I was a teacher. There are the good kids, keeping the rules, and the ones pushing the boundaries — swerving from lane to lane, trying to get ahead, or tailgating to push those doing the speed limit to move over. On the suburban streets, there are drivers who run the red lights and every night there are news stories of people injured and killed in car accidents, even the occasional car fire.

My daughter recently witnessed a Tesla Model 3 being rear-ended by a tradie with a trailer — all because the Tesla driver stopped as the lights were about to go red. I facetiously asked, “Did the Tesla burst into flames?” She replied, “No, but the driver looked like he was going to.” I am not suggesting that Tesla drivers are better drivers. I am sure that as more and more electric cars hit the highways, accidents will increase as people who like to speed get cars that can really perform.

We need to view driver behaviour in the context of ever-increasing highway congestion and driver stress. There appears to be an increase in the ingestion of anti-depressants and caffeine-laden energy drinks coupled with a lack of sleep. Hurry, worry, bury.
I wonder what the roads may be like when electric cars go mainstream. At the moment, a lot of the EV drivers are older, more experienced, and more sedate drivers. What will it be like when there is more power available for those who can’t handle it? I expect that initially we might see an upsurge in risky driving behaviour, and hence more accidents. We’ll have to keep our eye on the Sunday night news!

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Petrol is currently going up in Queensland — over $2 a litre (roughly AU$10 a gallon). Yet there are still articles in the mainstream media saying that there is little savings between petrol and electricity. Even with the recent increases in power prices, it is still 4 times cheaper to charge an electric car than to fill up a gas guzzler with petrol or diesel — so long as you charge at home. Of course, some people (including the author) have solar panels on the roof and can charge their cars for free.

Soon, there will be even less oil on the road — Australia’s penetration rate for electric vehicles is hovering around 8% for Q1 2023. This rate is set to increase markedly with the introduction of cheaper EVs. Australia will soon be receiving shipments of the Great Wall ORA Cat, the BYD Dolphin, and the MG4. We popped into the Great Wall dealership this morning and had a wonderful positive conversation with a young salesman — who knew what we were talking about and was also looking forward to the arrival of the Cat. This was quite a contrast to our earlier conversations with sales reps a few years back.

Range Anxiety vs. Range Anxiety

Here’s a funny story about range anxiety for ICE drivers, shared with me from one of my Facebook correspondents:

“For our recent road trip we stopped at Cann River. We were quite late getting in to town that night, around 12:30am, but that was okay because we called ahead to the motel to let them know our progress.

“Just as we arrived a guy rocked up in a little hatchback. He was in a bit of a panic, saying he
needed to get to Sydney and did we know where the closest petrol station is.

“He needed fuel. There was a petrol station just across the road there, large forecourt and lots of amenities. But it was closed. As was the only other petrol station in town. We were confident there wouldn’t be any others nearby open.

“Which got me thinking. EV charging infrastructure doesn’t require supervision. It’s inherent safety over petrol, LPG, and diesel fuel means a charging station is installed, practically anywhere, and remains inert when not in use.

“Compare that to ICE refuelling. Large buildings. Huge underground and above ground tanks. … A petrol station bowser cannot just be installed anywhere.

“If that guy was driving an EV, he could have just plugged in to the nearby DC charger and be on his way.”

Cann River has a bank of Tesla Superchargers and one non-Tesla charger, now functioning. Here is a picture of them under construction when we drove through last year:

The Great Aussie Road Trip
Construction of Tesla Superchargers at Cann River.

EVs Win On Drive Quality

Recently, my son and his wife went on a well-deserved cruise and we got to babysit my three grandsons and the Mitsubishi ASX. We thought we would drive it to see how it felt after 3 and half years. Compared to the Tesla Model 3, it was higher off the ground and had a great view of the traffic all around, with a much better turning circle. However, we really missed the acceleration and the regen braking. And the noise … my goodness. When we asked the engine to speed up, it took us by surprise each time. We didn’t realise how much we had adapted to the quiet of electric driving.

So, how long before the “Oil On Road” signs can be put away for good? Sadly, it may be a couple of decades to transition the fleet. However, we can see the transition moving through as we spot EV after EV on Australia roads.

Featured photo by Dids on Pexels (free to use)


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David Waterworth

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].

David Waterworth has 737 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth