Why do we still need an Australian EV Buyers Guide? | The Driven
Source: Rivian/Twitter
Source: Rivian/Twitter

Wow, it’s nearly two years since I first collated all my EV writings into a ‘What, Why and When Australian EV Buyers Guide’ presentation, and just over a year since I wrote it up for The Driven.

The presentation is now in its 14th iteration, plus an updated version of that article in September 2018.

Covering the personal and environmental benefits of transitioning to EVs, the unique features of EVs that should be considered when making a choice between them (or how long to wait if one is not yet available to meet your needs), I still regular get requests by community groups and other EV organisations to present on the topic. (In fact, I already have two booked to do this month.)

I was also recently asked if I was thinking of revising the article yet again, given the massively changed EV landscape here and in the world in general over that time.

However, the first question that came to my mind though was “why does Australia even need an ‘EV Buyers guide’ explaining the benefits and attributes of the various BEV models available?

After all – buyers guides for ICE (Internal combustion engine) vehicles tend to merely describe the available colour choices, their boot volumes, performance stats and number of cupholders.

Truth be told, these details are all easily found in manufacturers brochures. To my mind, the endless articles and magazines about ICE vehicle buying are more exercises in selling advertising space than actually providing a unique information source to the public.

On the flip side: EV knowledge by the general public is still very low and because of this the public is easily swayed by disinformation pedalled by the vested interests of the incumbent auto and fossil fuel industries, or by politicians wishing to ‘wedge’ the other side … irrespective of the actual facts.

If such silly material as setting an EV target could cause ‘EVs to kill the weekend’ or EV adoption policies to ‘steal tradies utes’ were pedalled about ICE vehicles – the general public’s more robust knowledge of ICE vehicles would cause such disinformation campaigns to instantly fail and make the peddlers of them look to be fools.

(Much as the EV community felt about the peddlers of such sillinesses during the last election campaign).

So yes, the time has not yet ended for providing an Australian focussed public guide on EV selection and buying. And the reasons? Well, the bottom line is that EVs are the new kid-on-the-block, and they have a fair way to go in people’s understanding the areas of:

  1. Acceptance:
    People are ‘used-to’ ICE vehicles, and EVs represent change plus a potentially steep learning curve (including that they are no longer slow, range limited and high maintenance). Especially since early BEVs (pre 2000s) were cumbersome, slow and range limited requiring costly battery replacements of their lead-acid battery packs every few years.Whilst the first generation of modern BEVs were far more reliable and their batteries lasted well, they were limited in their range. Only the latest generation of BEVs offer the sorts of ranges that ICE vehicles have. Consequently there is some memory of these as ‘what an EV is’ by people who have not kept with the fast pace of EV advancement.
  2. Model choice:
    EVs models have yet to reach the level of diversity that ICE vehicles have developed over the last 100 years plus – especially the many niche vehicle types that have been made available in the last 30 years, but that range is growing fast – as exemplified by my dilemma of actually having a choice! Read my previous article here.
  3. Model availability:
    Manufacturers have not one, but two, hurdles to overcome here:
    a. scaling up the manufacture of EV componentry – particularly batteries, and
    b. the inertia of the old auto industry used to its ICE production and sales model;
  4. Price parity to ICE vehicles:
    EVs are yet to be produced in enough numbers to achieve the full ‘economy of scale’ that the existing auto industry model has achieved over 100 plus years of making ICE vehicles.

By the way: nor have the old auto industry players worked out how to adapt their old ‘sales and service’ profits model to a ‘sales and … much reduced service’ model – as mentioned in d) above.

As a result, they are unwilling to sell EV at anything less than a healthy profit till they work it out; otherwise they would be shooting themselves in both feet AND one hand – restructuring their industry, trying to scale up production AND reduced profits on sales, service and parts that could have otherwise underpinned an expensive transition).

Yet the EV transition is becoming inevitable with signs of it all about us: around the world, ICE (Internal combustion engine) vehicle sales have now consistently failed to exceed (or even return) to their 2017 peaks whilst ever growing ques of pre-orders and orders for full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) show the pent-up demand from the public for EVs. Plus others!

So letting you all know that over the next few days I will be writing an updated version of the Australian EV Buyers Guide article – and look forward to your comments on what is becoming a very exciting market in Australia (and the world) for EV choice.

However, I also look forward to the day that I can just write about EV colour options, boot volumes, performance stats and number of cupholders. (It would require MUCH less work to produce.)

Ed: Bryce Gaton’s latest buyers guide will be published this week.

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