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The Changing EV Narrative in Australia

As part of the Gayndah Orange Festival, the committee organized a family fun day on the Sunday. We had stayed overnight with friends and were keen to show our Tess (our Tesla Model 3) to the locals and answer questions. It was a sunny and welcoming day. Some curious questioners had never seen an electric car before. During the parade, they had watched as ten electric cars drove slowly by — 2 Kona EVs, 4 BYDs, and 4 Teslas. Now they had the opportunity to see a BYD and a Tesla up close and to have their questions answered. The quality and tone of the questions indicated the changing EV narrative.

We parked near Geoff’s BYD as he managed the Orange Jam music tent. People had sessions on Ukuleles, artists played and sang their own compositions. People milled around and walked over. You couldn’t get a better spot for engaging with the public. Even the festival queen popped in with questions of her own.

Changing Narrative

Orange Festival Queen asks EV questions. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Geoff had used his BYD to tow a trailer loaded with equipment for the musicians. He left it hooked up to make the point: “Yes, electric cars can tow!” Not surprisingly, no one seemed to ask that question at this time!

Changing EV narrative

Yes, it can tow. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Once again it was the usual questions: Where do you charge it? How do you charge it? Geoff’s BYD was parked with the bonnet up and people would stand and stare down, without any idea of what they were looking at. Of course, our bonnet was up too, and they couldn’t see anything. But we had some great conversations about what wasn’t there. There was a lot interest in the lack of maintenance costs — no oil changes, no fuel filters, no exhaust pipe, fewer moving parts in the drivetrain.

We wandered the displays and bought some indigenous art, caught up with Jimmy of tiny house fame, and had a chat with Valerie about her little electric sports car. It was like shows from my youth. There were wood-chopping demonstrations and gymnastic displays from the local schools.

In this little country town that only has one locally owned electric vehicle and no new car dealerships, the narrative is changing and people are honestly curious. It will be interesting to compare this with events we are attending in the next couple of months at coastal cities in Queensland.

Soon, we will head off up the Bruce Highway for similar events along the east coast of Queensland. We will be displaying the Tesla and answering questions in Rockhampton on June 3rd, Gladstone on June 4th, and then back south to Noosa on the beautiful Sunshine Coast for June 18th. It will be Bundaberg’s on July 15th. The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland will also be holding their annual event on the 18th of June, featuring MGs. As well as the classic MGBs, I expect there will be a few electric MG 4s and MG ZS EVs.

We left Gayndah with a full battery and hit the open road for the 160 km trip to the Tesla Superchargers at Gympie. A short section of this road is one lane of tarmac, with gravel on the sides. There was a fair bit of traffic on the road, so I slowed down, as I had to move onto the gravel as the farmers’ utes passed. At one point, there was drop-off and I couldn’t move over far enough. A large stone flicked up by an oncoming fourby struck the windscreen. I thought it was going to hit right between the eyes.

Changing EV Narrative

Tess gets a black eye. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

It kind of spoiled the weekend for us. We watched carefully, expecting it to spread from the deep circle of cracks right across the windscreen. Thankfully, it didn’t. Still stressful, though. Arriving home, we made phone calls to the insurance company and to Tesla. It took a few days to get an appointment, but by Friday she was as good as new. No more black eye.

Never one to waste an opportunity, we took a Model Y for a test drive while we waited for the glue that held the new windscreen in to dry. The Model Y SR has plenty of acceleration, but not quite the same as my old 3 (Tess is quite impressed with herself). The Tesla rep explained that the Y is a much heavier vehicle and is also pushing more air than the 3. Still, the Y made it up Barclay’s Lookout licketty split.

Changing EV Narrative

Model Y at Barclay’s Lookout, Brisbane. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

As we get older and our backs need more room to manoeuvre in and out of a vehicle, it is highly likely we will end up with a Y, but I am loath to give up my sexy little Tess.

Queensland, and indeed Australia, is thirsty for electric vehicles and the narrative is slowly changing. RACQ hosted an EV event yesterday in conjunction with Eagers Automotive in Brisbane, which was reported on positively in mainstream media. Eagers Automotive services BYD. A spokesperson for RACQ stated that almost 30% of new car buyers were considering an electric vehicle.

The EV experience day was advertised with the tagline: “Have you ever dreamed of driving up to 13 electric vehicles in one day? RACQ is making that dream a reality for its members with a new EV Test Drive Day series launching this weekend.”

“There’s a lot of talk about EVs, including plenty of myths, and the best way to find out what EVs are all about is to experience one firsthand and speak directly with the experts,” Head of Public Policy Dr. Michael Kane said. “RACQ’s transport experts will be on site to answer questions and provide information to help members feel informed and confident before their next vehicle purchase.”

With a combination of federal government tax breaks, state government rebates, and a whole new crop of more affordable cars; support from motoring organisations and favourable comments in the media, Australia should soon pass the 10% penetration mark. Electric vehicles may soon be “normal” cars.

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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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