News Archives - Melbourne EV Show 22-24 Sept 2023

Free Entry for Children to Carsales Melbourne EV Show

This weekend, the carsales Melbourne EV Show is coming to town, and it’s going electrify your family’s weekend. Children under 16 can attend for free with a guardian, no ticket required. So bring the whole family and make a day of it. There will be something for everyone to enjoy, from the latest and greatest electric vehicles (EVs) on display to a dedicated e-bike and e-scooter track.

Here are just a few of the things your family can look forward to at the carsales Melbourne EV Show:

  • See over 100 EVs on display, including the latest and greatest models from all the top brands. Thinking of purchasing an EV as your family’s next car? This is a great opportunity to learn about the different types of EVs available.
  • Ride the e-bike and e-scooter track. This is a fun and safe way for kids to try out electric transportation.
  • See EV racecars on display and learn about the exciting world of EV racing.
  • Try out the EV simulator. This is a fun and interactive way to experience what it’s like to drive an EV on a race track.
  • Enjoy delicious food and beverages at the cafe and cafeteria.

In addition to all the fun activities, the carsales Melbourne EV Show is also a great place to learn about the benefits of EVs and to see the future of transportation up close. There will be a variety of EV experts on hand to answer your questions and help you learn more about EVs. So mark your calendars for September 22-24 and head to the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre for the carsales Melbourne EV Show.

The future of work trucks and utes: Electric vehicles are taking over

Four years ago, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison famously claimed electric vehicles (EVs) would end the weekend. “It’s not going to tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot,” he said.

His comments drew on the popular misconception EVs are underpowered relative to petrol, gas or diesel cars. Experts refuted the claims, while video of a Tesla towing a 130-tonne Boeing 787 circulated.

But one part of Morrison’s critique had longer resonance. Could utes ever go electric? These light utility cars are favoured by Australia and New Zealand’s two million strong tradie workforce to take materials and tools to jobs. Ute drivers are more likely to drive longer distances, making range anxiety an obstacle.

The answer is yes, though it may take longer than for cars. Only last week Melbourne company SEA Group announced a deal to turn thousands of conventional utes electric.

At present, new electric utes are still more expensive. But over time, their advantages will make them an easy choice.

Last week, a billion dollar deal was struck to retrofit thousands of conventional utes with batteries and motors. AAP

How are electric utes different?

Electric utes will have much lower running costs from fuel to maintenance. Electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel. And doing away with the internal combustion engine means maintenance is much cheaper and less frequent.

They have improved performance, with instant torque and rapid acceleration. This makes them suited for towing and driving in environments where quick manoeuvring and agility are needed.

They have more storage because there’s no large engine, leaving room for a front trunk. Batteries are typically located under the floor.

And for tradies, the large battery means they can charge and run their tools without the need for a generator.

Like other electric vehicles, electric utes have better energy efficiency, converting much, much more of the energy stored in the battery into motion. By contrast, internal combustion engines lose most of the energy in their fuel to heat.

But what about ‘range anxiety’?

The average driver in Australia covers 36 kilometres per day, or around 12,000 kilometres each year.

But averages conceal heavy users. Owners of utes and other light commercial vehicles drive almost 40% more than car drivers.

So, can electric utes handle the extra kilometres? In short – yes. Battery technology improves every year. The average distance an EV can drive on a single charge doubled from 138km to 349km in the decade to 2021, based on US models.

Batteries will get better and cheaper, meaning range will increase. You can charge your electric ute at one of almost 5,000 charging stations around Australia – a number which has almost doubled in just three years. It’s also possible to swap out depleted batteries rather than stopping to recharge.

If there’s power available at a worksite, you can also run a power cable to top up your ute while on the job.

Electric utes will be slower to arrive – but the bigger change is already here

This year, Australia will have 100,000 electric vehicles on its roads for the first time.

After years in the doldrums, electric cars finally arrived in numbers. Last year, almost 40,000 hit the roads for the first time – doubling the total in a single year.

But there’s still a way to go. That’s just 3.8% of all new car sales – well below the global average of 12–14% and far behind world leader Norway, where 87% of vehicles sold are now electric.

Cars are comparatively easy to electrify. Utes and trucks are a harder challenge. Even though they come with major advantages, the higher sticker price will deter buyers.

This matters, because transport is now Australia’s third-largest – and fastest growing – source of emissions, accounting for close to 20% of the nation’s emissions.

Of these emissions, freight trucks are responsible for 23%, and light duty road vehicles – which includes utes –  contribute 18%.

For years, Australia has been at the back of the pack. Our lack of emission standards for vehicles has made us a dumping ground for high-polluting cars and trucks.

Electrifying our whole fleet of vehicles – coupled with clean energy to power them – is essential if we are to meet our legislated emissions targets.

Which electric utes are available now – or coming soon?

Australia’s first electric ute is the LDV eT60. It’s hugely expensive at around A$93,000, almost twice the cost of its diesel counterpart.

Australia’s first electric ute, LDV eT60. Zecar

So how can we be confident electric utes will take off? Because the technology isn’t standing still. As EVs get better and as worldwide battery production skyrockets, prices will fall. Many other models will soon be available.

States and territories are also introducing policies to reduce the cost of purchase, such as basing the cost of registering a vehicle on its emissions.

Within seven years, electric vans and utes are predicted to make up over 50% of all light duty commercial vehicles. This could come even sooner with supportive government policies.

There’s also a renewed interest in local manufacturing. Queensland’s Ace EV Group plans to launch a small, cheap electric ute with the ability to charge your tools from its battery, while other outfits offer to convert your existing car to electric.

The route to electric utes

The switch to electric is – at last – beginning in earnest. But time is of the essence. To accelerate, we need more variety and more affordable EVs, including light duty vehicles and utes.

One policy setting still holding us back is the lack of mandatory fuel efficiency standards. If we had these, we would see much faster change.

Labor last year promised Australia would at last have ambitious mandatory fuel-efficiency standards. They can’t come soon enough.

Source: The Conversation

Electric vehicles: A golden opportunity for Australian businesses

Australia has long had a love affair with the internal combustion engine. Its first petrol-powered car was developed in 1901. (Admittedly, the engine was imported from Germany.)

Roll forward 122 years and there’s now a registered motor vehicle for every one of the 20 million people of driving age in Australia. And fossil fuels power 99.9% of these vehicles.

The slow pace at which Australia has adopted electric vehicles is maddening to many. But the transition to electric vehicles is changing gear in Australia, driven by both consumers and government.

The early signs of this shift can be seen in the latest quarterly vehicle sales data. Two-thirds of medium-sized cars sold were electric.

Also this week, the National Electric Vehicle Strategy filled a glaring hole in federal policy. All the states and territories and many local governments had for some time taken steps to boost the uptake of electric vehicles.

Electrifying the vehicle fleet is going to be one of Australia’s biggest challenges this century. But what makes Australia different from other countries? And why does it make sense to embrace a position as a fast follower?

After a very slow start, electric vehicle sales and model ranges are growing fast in Australia. Bianca De Marchi/AAP

A country wedded to the car

You can see why cars are so popular in a country like Australia. We’re the sixth-largest country in the world, but the 55th-most-populous. With only around three people per square kilometre, we regularly travel large distances through sparsely populated areas.

Australia also had a burgeoning automotive industry, which spawned fierce loyalties among fans of domestic brands. Its long decline began in the 1940s, with the last vehicle manufacturer shutting up shop in 2017.

Globally, too, the time of internal combustion engine manufacturing seems to have passed. The impacts of human-induced climate change are intensifying, with the transport sector responsible for a large share of global emissions that stubbornly refuses to decline.

The electrification of transport offers a route to decarbonise this sector. It will also bring a host of other benefits such as improved health through reduced local air pollution.

Electric vehicles aren’t new. The first cars were electric but were eventually outcompeted by their fossil-fuelled counterparts. It wasn’t until the start of the last decade that upstarts such as Tesla began disrupting the automotive sector with fully electric offerings.

Not long after this Australia began a series of electric vehicle demonstration projects. The first was a Western Australian trial way back in 2010. However, sales and model availability remained stubbornly low. This was largely due to weak policies.

Until recently one objection to electric vehicles was that none were utes, but they’re now on sale in Australia. Morgan Hancock/AAP

We have the resources to go electric

Adding to the frustration of EV advocates is Australia’s wealth of resources that can enhance the benefits electric vehicles offer.

Australia has some of the best wind energy resources in the world with an estimated 5 terawatts of potential. It also has the world’s highest rooftop solar capacity per person. Over 3 million households can power their homes (and potentially vehicles) for free when the sun is shining. There are also 180,000 residential batteries, helping households store the sun’s energy for later use.

The “lucky country” also boasts huge deposits of the minerals needed for making renewable energy technology like solar panels, wind turbines and batteries. Australia produces over 50% of the world’s lithium and 20% of its cobalt, as well as aluminium (27%), nickel (23%) and copper (11%).

And there’s expertise to accelerate the transition

While the new national strategy makes all the right noises, the main critique emerging is that it lacks real teeth. In particular, the specifics of a badly needed fuel-efficiency standard are still being developed.

However, there is still plenty in the strategy to offer promise. It identifies the need for:

  • better infrastructure planning and deployment
  • training and attracting a workforce with the necessary skills
  • product stewardship for end-of-life EV batteries
  • better access to charging for apartment residents
  • funding for more guidance and demonstrations.

We also have a vibrant and innovative domestic electric vehicle industry. It boasts exciting companies such as NASDAQ-listed Tritium, the ubiquitous JetCharge and a host of others including EVIE NetworksJolt ChargeACE EV and EVSE Australia. They have been creating a market without any federal government encouragement or support. Harnessing their innovation and drive will be key.

Australia’s world-class energy researchers have been exploring issues relating to a mostly renewables-powered electricity grid for decades. In recent years, they have been investigating how electric vehicles could become an important asset for the electricity grid as “batteries on wheels”. The renewable energy agency, ARENA, has spent over $2 billion to increase the renewable energy supply in Australia. Over $100 million has gone to transport-related projects.

The RACE for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre is another major long-term industry and research collaboration. It has received $69 million in government funding and $280 million in cash and in-kind support from partners to accelerate the transition to reliable, affordable, clean energy. This year it allocated $3.4 million to the Australian Strategic EV Integration (SEVI) project.

The SEVI project will test how electric vehicles can be incorporated within government fleets, holiday parks, and residential areas and in three states (New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia). To take one example, the South Australian part of the trial will examine how holiday parks could benefit from electric vehicles generating new sources of revenue and reinforcing the grid in rural areas. We can draw on the lessons from such trials to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles across Australia in ways that maximise the benefits for consumers, communities, businesses and the grid.

Australia now has impressive capacity within industry, government and academia to help drive the transition to an all-electric fleet. We will need to embrace our country’s unique features and harness its resources to translate the new electric vehicle strategy from good intent into real action.

Source: The Conversation

How does Australia’s EV strategy compare to plans globally?

A Toyota Corolla with a 1.8L engine requires 6.2 litres of gas to drive for 100 kilometres on a highway. But on city roads, it would require 7.9 litres of gas. A 2022 Ford F-150 requires 9.4 and 12.1 litres per 100 km for highway and city driving, respectively.

Traditional fuel-powered automobiles, powered by the internal combustion engines, give higher mileage on a highway compared to city roads. Various factors can affect the driving efficiency of a vehicle.

First, the internal combustion engines are designed in a way that their efficiency peaks closer to highway speeds. Second, unlike highway driving, city driving involves more frequent acceleration and braking; every time a fuel-powered automobile accelerates, it consumes more energy than it would consume to maintain speed. And every time it brakes, energy is lost in the form of heat at its brake pads.

All these factors result in higher gas mileage on highway driving compared to city driving.

Power usage

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) don’t need gasoline. So how much electric power is needed to drive a BEV on highways? And will that power requirement be higher (or lower) to drive in the city?

It could be expected that a BEV would require less power to drive on a highway compared to city. And a fully charged BEV should be able to drive longer on a highway compared to the city. However, the reality is just the opposite.

Energy stored in the battery is measured in kilowatt-hours (KWh). If a particular BEV has a capacity of 200 KWh, this would ideally provide 200 KW (equivalent to 268 horsepower) for one hour, or 100 KW for two hours, and so on. Hypothetically, this BEV can provide an impressive 2,680 hp for six minutes, and an astounding 26,800 hp for 36 seconds.

In practice, however, the internal resistance of the battery prevents it from providing infinite power even for a short time. When trying to draw high power from the battery, its internal resistance causes a voltage drop that is high enough to completely shut it off.

When the BEV operates at high power, only a certain portion of the full energy capacity is available for driving. At a lower power, however, the battery can provide more energy.

Battery electric vehicles don’t need gasoline. (Andrew Roberts/Unsplash)
Battery electric vehicles don’t need gasoline. (Andrew Roberts/Unsplash)

Battery testing

We conducted experiments at our battery management systems research lab at the University of Windsor. We took a cylindrical battery cell like the ones used to make battery packs for BEVs and computed its energy at different discharge currents.

First, we fully charged the battery and then discharged it at a certain power until it was fully depleted. Then, we fully charged it again and discharged it at half the power until it was fully depleted. The experiment was repeated five more times by halving the discharge power each time.

When we computed the total energy discharged by the battery at each experiment, we found that the lower the current, the higher the discharge energy capacity.

The BEVs need more electrical current (a measure of power) on highways compared to city streets because the average speed on the highway is higher. Also, their batteries become less efficient at high currents due to energy loss.

Further, the BEVs don’t lose that much power when braking because they convert their kinetic energy back to electricity with the help of regenerative braking systems. All these facts contribute to more efficient driving and higher range at low speeds.

Electric vehicles don’t lose that much power when braking because they convert their kinetic energy back to electricity. (Shutterstock)
Electric vehicles don’t lose that much power when braking because they convert their kinetic energy back to electricity. (Shutterstock)

The batteries perform well at room temperature, and colder and hotter temperatures will reduce their performance. Similarly, using vehicle heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will reduce the batteries’ performance.

The performance of a battery is also affected by how it is being used over time. The battery management system is very important, and in some BEVs, it may be programmed to prevent the driver from fully depleting the battery pack so that long-term health can be maintained.

Informed consumers

Canada’s 2022 fuel consumption guide provides details about some BEVs. On average, the tested BEVs required lower power to drive 100 kilometres in city roads compared to highways, confirming our explanation.

A study by the American Automobile Association found that most vehicles drove the longest in city conditions where speed was lower compared to highway driving. That is, a fully charged BEV drives longer distances at lower speeds.

Our findings suggest that those considering an electric vehicle would find it useful if power consumption guides included this information. BEV drivers can expect shorter driving range at high speeds, and can also expect the driving cost per kilometre to increase with vehicle speed.

Source: The Conversation