As a bright red BYD Atto 3 breaks up the grey Corolla gang in my suburban neighbourhood, the march of the electric vehicle invasion is becoming more and more obvious. Three years ago, I received my Tesla Model 3 SR+ and showed it to my neighbours. They were impressed as I drove them up hills with no loss of acceleration and demonstrated the tech. It was early days in the EV revolution for this middle-class suburb, and my Tesla was the only EV in the area. Now we see them everywhere — at the library, at the shops, taking kids to school.
One close neighbour has taken the plunge and has leased herself a red BYD Atto 3. We chatted yesterday — she is still working out the tech and has to solve the puzzle of how to engage cruise control — it is early days yet. She was flanked by her teenage nephews, and I suggested she get them to work it out for her. Only driving it to work and back, she hasn’t had to charge the car yet, but she is planning to use the free chargers in the nearby library. The car is capable of charging from a power point in the garage under her house, also.
Currently, the BYD Atto 3 is the third highest selling electric vehicle in Australia, only behind the Model Y and the Model 3. About 1100 are selling each month. The third-place position is a battle between the Atto 3 and the MG ZS EV. My Facebook feed was graced with an advertisement for the MG this morning. Due to the approach of the end of the financial year (June 30th), MG is discounting the MG ZS EV by a further AU$3000. Add this to the Queensland state government rebate of AU$6000 and you are looking at a very affordable EV.
True to its election promise, the Australian federal government is replacing the 92 diesel BMWs and 45 hybrid Toyota Camrys in the ComCar fleet with BMW iX xDrive40 electric SUVs and the longer-range BMW iX xDrive50 electric SUV. These EVs retail for between $140,000 and $180,000. The fleet is replaced every 3 years. In an amusing aside, despite the nation’s capital (Canberra) having the highest per capita uptake of electric vehicles, there are very few public high-speed chargers, and none at Parliament House — a situation I would expect will change dramatically, now.
For the curious, yes, the Tesla Model Y was considered but not deemed appropriate, possibly because of issues with driver and passenger comfort. Maybe they were just not “posh” enough, or perhaps it was some sort of brand loyalty — BMWs replacing BMWs. The decision may come back to bite if these cars can’t access the Tesla charging network on long trips.
For a deep dive into the selection process, have a look here.
But, will there be enough public high-speed charging? Yes, there will — let’s put that FUD to bed. The Queensland government has just announced the latest expansion of the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH), with 44 extra chargers to be added throughout the regions. Various companies — including Tesla, Evie Networks, and ENGINE — as well as motoring organisations like NRMA and RACQ will partner with government to co-fund the sites.
This commitment almost doubles the size of the QESH. Even Alpha and Goomeri will get chargers. Are they going to suck the fun and adventure out of road trips — probably, but people will be able to visit the west of the state in an EV with confidence. Majella and I are thinking of a drive from Brisbane to Quilpie later this year (900 km west). At present, it will need some careful planning once we get over 200 km from the coast, but soon that will not be the case.
Mick de Brenni, the Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, said:
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to helping more Queenslanders choose to make the switch to zero emissions vehicles, because they’re a great way to ease the cost-of-living pressures caused by petrol prices.
“Securing more chargers up and down Queensland means EV owners have even more opportunity to get out and explore all the beauty and wonder our great state has to offer.
“We’re backing quieter roads, less emissions, and cheaper motoring for Queenslanders, but most importantly, these cars are fuelled by energy made and owned by Queenslanders.”
At the moment, there are 20,000 electric vehicles on the roads in Queensland (for a population of about 5 million). This is expected to rise exponentially, as new and more affordable vehicles arrive from China. This year, Queenslanders can expect to see the ORA Cat from Great Wall, the MG 4 from MG, and the Dolphin from BYD. These three are expected to be priced in the low AU$40,000s range. The local Great Wall sales rep rang two weeks ago and told me that it wouldn’t be long before I would be able to test drive a Cat. “The vehicles are in the country. Great Wall is waiting for them all to be distributed to dealers before allowing the public to drive them,” he said.
Electric vehicles are invading our living rooms with ads on mainstream TV, being mentioned (though not always positively) on our news feeds, and invading our neighbourhood streets. At the state level, the government has doubled the EV rebate and added more public chargers. At a federal level, there are tax breaks for fleet buyers and the example of Comcar. Green loans with discounted interest rates are being offered by banks. My good neighbours are transitioning. Even car dealers are getting keen with end-of-financial-year discounts. It’s all happening down under.
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