Electric vehicles on the Big Lap … your questions answered!

In a previous article, grey nomad and electric vehicle (EV) enthusiast, Terry O’Leary, explained why he was convinced that the Big Lap of the not-so-distant future will not require a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE).

“Electric Vehicles are coming to Australia and change can be difficult, but ICE vehicles will become less common and fuel for them very expensive and hard to get,” he said. “Us grey nomads will have to adapt eventually.”

The article sparked a flurry of readers’ questions. Here, Terry answers some of them!

While EVs don’t pay tax for fuel now, do you think that will change? When and how?
James C

It is inevitable State and Federal Governments will find ways to replace Fuel Excise and other taxes on fuel. A fair way would be to charge all vehicles a road tax based on road use at a Federal Level, and share among the states. Most likely each state will do its own thing. The current system is very inequitable. Hopefully what replaces it will be fairer. Minister King at the National Press Club on March 1 said they are awaiting the High Court decision on state EV taxes. This will decide if State or Federal taxes apply to EVs in the future.

My question is about the 3.5t towing by future EV vehicles such as Toyota 300. Currently GVM is a huge problem for LandCruisers and other 3.5t rated vehicles. Will the 300 EV version have a severe problem with GVM and GCM?
Les S

There are similar problems with weights in Hybrids and ICE vehicles both GVM and GCM. However, if you redesign the chassis and the vehicle by removing gearboxes, differentials and direct drive the wheels you can significantly reduce the tow vehicle weight. Toyota currently uses serial hybrid which does little to reduce weight. Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi are using parallel hybrid, where the ICE motor is not connected to wheels. It simply charges a battery which supplies power to the electric motor(s). The current Mitsubishi Outlander has the parallel hybrid system, but so far does not appear to significantly reduce tow vehicle weight. Battery EVs can reduce weights and importantly weight distribution in the tow vehicle.

The major question is … how much will these vehicles cost?
Terence H

Like all new technologies, they will be expensive but, in time, will drop a lot in price. LDV90 the first EV ute sold by a dealer in Australia is absurdly expensive for a basic 2WD Korean ute. I think the dealer has very limited supply, trying to make an excessive profit from early adopters, clearly a case of buyer beware. EV Tritons out of Thailand will be a lot cheaper.

What do you think the range of an EV towing a van will be?
Robert F

Overseas experience looks like towing with Battery EV, as with ICE, is about half the range to when not towing. Like ICE vehicles, it will depend on terrain, wind, speed etc. however, it should be a lot cheaper. Battery EVs are ~80% efficient while ICE ~20%.

If EVs become omnipresent, how will the charging infrastructure possibly cope?
Jezza G

Charging points will become more widespread in time. It just takes a little planning at the moment, when travelling away from home. Caravan parks and council parking areas will all start to have more chargers. They are a viable moneymaking opportunity. Caravan parks will initially have sites with charging sites, powered sites and unpowered sites … all probably at different costs. Eventually, most powered sites will offer charging as there will be few non EVs on our roads.

Why is there not more said about converting our present vehicles to electric?
Von Jean

There is already a small industry in converting conventional Internal Combustion (ICE) vehicles to EV mainly in the mining industry as batteries get smaller/lighter and more efficient, the conversion industry will grow. EV conversion to be most efficient needs to replace drive trains as well as engines. ICE vehicles have many inefficiencies in gearboxes, differentials, etc. EVs are most efficient with motors directly driving the wheels. Currently it is more efficient to build an EV from the ground up.

• Terry O’Leary has two science degrees and a masters degree. Before retiring, he worked for the Defence Department in Science and Technology


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