The first electric vehicle of its kind sold in Queensland has the dual purpose of making business sales calls, while also being a practical small equipment delivery vehicle.
Paul Williams, owner of a medical supplies company based near Brisbane, struggled to find himself a Renault Zoe from Queensland dealerships, eventually managing to purchase one from a Melbourne Holden dealer, Barry Bourke in Berwick, for $49,000.
“It’s a price that’s significantly higher than a comparable-sized ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, but I’ve worked out a 5 year pay back time-frame based on the average weekly distances I travel and money saved on fuel costs,”Williams says.
“Plus there’s the lower servicing costs, lower wear on tyres and brakes and I’m confident the resale value will hold much better as EVs gain foothold in Australia and attitudes towards them change.”
Used mainly for sales calls and deliveries, averaging two to three hundred kilometres a week, Paul says that while the vehicle is small by today’s standards, he is usually a solo driver and it fits in everything he needs to effectively run his business.
“Through summer, we estimate our 8.5kw solar system will comfortably feed the EV and we’re in the process of adding a Zappi for a more effective and efficient automatic charging process.”
“I think the key to having an EV is to always charge from renewable energy if possible; I really can’t see the point of an electric vehicle if either home-based or public charge points are powered by coal.”
In Williams’ case, cloudy weather throughout the last eight weeks of winter, coupled with his solar panels being shadowed by nearby trees, has created a shortfall of solar power for the EV, so an additional set of panels has been planned.
“I think Queensland is still a deeply conservative state when it comes to renewables, but people are starting to understand the cost effectiveness of solar panels on their roof, perhaps some energy storage now or in the future, then adding an EV to the mix,” Williams says.
The Zoe can travel up to 340kms on a full charge – which takes 6 hours to achieve when plugged in at home – allowing Williams to reach his south east Queensland clients without suffering range anxiety.
“From home, I’ll travel to client sites in Ipswitch, Toowoomba, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast without having to plan the trip too much.”
“On a recent run to the Sunshine Coast, about 110kms each way, I’d planned a charge stop, but found the regenerative braking gave me roughly 20kms back, so I had enough to get there and back without having to top up.”
In addition to the difficulty sourcing his EV, Paul also had to wait for several weeks for it to be transported from Victoria to his Pullenvale home.
“When I went to register it the Department of Transport couldn’t find the model; it would have been OK if I’d bought an ICE from the same manufacturer, but the Zoe didn’t exist as far as they were concerned.
“In the end, they had to get details from VicRoads and create a new category so I could finalise the registration. Kind of crazy when you consider they’ve been selling in Europe since 2013.”
But the best bit about running a home office and EV from his grid-connect solar system?
“Former One Nation senator and anti-renewables campaigner Malcolm Roberts lives just around the corner from me, and I take great delight in driving past in my emission-free EV that’s been powered by the sun!”