Electric cars are becoming wildly popular around the world. But there’s one common question that’s on the mind of all potential electric vehicle (EV) owners. How far will this get me? Whether you’re planning a road trip or just need a car for errands, you want something that won’t leave you stranded.
In this article, we’ll lay out some of the different battery technology that you should know as an EV buyer. We’ll also run through some everyday scenarios that you might face in your EV. And we’ll talk about how some companies like Parkhound are making electric car driving even easier. You can make your dream of owning an electric car a reality.
How do electric car batteries work?
Just a few decades ago, the idea that cars with rechargeable batteries could compete with a fuel-powered car was crazy. But the tech has advanced rapidly in recent years!
Now, an electric car can park at a charging station for half an hour and drive away with a full battery. And depending on the make of the car, that full charge can offer an average range of 100 to 150km. This can go up to 300 to 500km for the high end models.
So how does all of this work? It comes down to the type of battery that electric vehicles use. They’re called BEVs, or battery electric vehicles, and they’re the most powerful batteries that the car world has ever seen. Before the development of BEVs, car batteries were only responsible for powering relatively small functions like the radio and starting the car. For actual movement, the car would rely on internal combustion powered by fuel.
We should note that there are two other common types of batteries for electric vehicles – PHVs and HEVs – which are used in plug-in hybrids and hybrid cars. Here, we’re going to focus on the all-electric vehicles.
And in all-electric cars, BEVs run the show. While we don’t want to bog you down with too many techy details, let’s cover some of the basics of how BEVs work and how they recharge.
To state it simply, batteries produce electricity through the use of chemical reactions. Some batteries, like alkaline batteries, use zinc and manganese oxide to produce their electric charge. But once that energy is depleted, that’s it for the alkaline battery – it’s destined for disposal.
The majority of EVs in Australia and the rest of the world use lithium-ion BEVs. It’s the same kind of battery that you might find in your laptop or phone, and a major difference between your standard alkaline battery and a lithium-ion one is that the latter can be recharged. Recharging can be done through a city’s power grid or in specialised charging stations. Although there are more charging stations popping up all the time (more on that later), Aussies tend to charge their electric vehicles at home overnight.
Where does all of this lithium come from? Well, most of it comes from here! At the moment, Australia is the leading producer of lithium in the world, with mines littering the landscape in Western Australia. The boom in lithium production has made EVs more affordable and accessible than ever.
Let’s talk more about BEV recharging
At this point, we’ve covered the basics of BEV functioning, but how exactly does recharging work? How far can you go on a single charge?
Electric car manufacturers realised early on that if owners had to rely on public charging stations, their cars would be too inconvenient for the average person. It’s a different experience spending 5 minutes fuelling up at a service station than the 30 minutes it takes to recharge at a charging station.
So the engineers did two things to solve the problem. First, they made sure that their EVs could be charged at home. Second, they worked hard to increase the range for a single charge. And how did they do?
On the first front, they’ve done pretty well. An electric car can be charged right at home using a standard electrical outlet. However, figuring out exactly how long your electric car needs to charge for is a tricky task. It all depends on the voltage of your outlet. Whether you invest in a faster charging converter and the kind of BEV you have. With the perfect conditions – a high end car and a specialised charging box – you can fully charge in under three hours. But for the average electric car owner with a power converter, you’re looking at somewhere between 7 and 10 hours. Without the power converter, you might need to carve out up to 24 hours for a full charge. Not exactly ideal, but easily fixed with that converter.
And how about range? Again, there are a lot of factors to consider, but as we mentioned earlier, the average for modern electric cars is about 100 to 150km on a single charge. That’s more than the average Australian driver needs in a day, but it might not be enough for longer road trips. For buyers able to purchase the top-of-the-line electric vehicles, the Tesla Model S offers an astounding range of up to 713km.
Some everyday scenarios in your electric car
With what we know about charging and range, here are some everyday scenarios for electric car owners.
First, let’s say that you want a car for your everyday commute to work. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian driver commutes somewhere between 5 and 20 km to work. Even with a standard middle-of-the-road electric car, you should be able to get to and from work everyday, plus errands. You’ll even have charge to spare.
Of course, if your errands take you to a few different suburbs – you have to pick up the kids from school or drop the dog off at the groomers – charging while you’re out might be necessary.
And let’s consider road trips, as well. If you’re driving more than a couple of hours away, a charging station will be needed at some point. Luckily many cities and states have been installing charging stations in accessible areas and along major highways for passing drivers. According to the most recent data, there are about 800 charging stations around the country, with plans to expand.
You might also consider renting a parking space through Parkhound with a charging station included. All regions where we offer parking – whether it be parking Melbourne, Sydney, suburbs like Parramatta – can be filtered for electric charging capabilities. If you need to rent a parking spot while you work, why not find a secure parking space that also offers charging?
Will owning an electric car drastically change your life? Yes – but in a good way!
Before purchasing an electric car, you might worry about the inconvenience of charging. There’s also the dreaded scenario of getting stuck without a charge. But with advancing technology and infrastructure in Australia, more drivers are making the switch and loving the change. With easy charging at home and more available charging stations in public, driving an EV isn’t something to worry about.
Are you an EV owner? Let us know what impact owning an electric car has had on your driving experience!