The Importance of Electric Vehicles by Steve Walsh

Edited version from Baw Baw Sustainability Network Newsletter

In his book Super-Power, Ross Garnaut has electrification of the transport industry as a major plank in achieving reduced carbon emissions. Yet according to the motoring press, the general public regard electric cars as too expensive and their limited range and charging times means they are not practical. Without more Government incentives this makes them a harder sell. Our cancelled Electric car event was to get people thinking about EV’s for their next vehicle purchase which may be over the next 2 to 3 years.

Environmentally an ‘average’ household car uses about 2.5-3.0* tons of CO2 per year, with the average household running about 1.5 cars.  The average household emissions from gas and electricity use in Victoria is about 8.0 tons CO2.  So, an EV can significantly reduce emissions. If we are to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions in Victoria by 2030 I guess we could have a personal target of reducing our household emissions by 50%, and EV’s can help significantly. Of course there may be more cost efficient ways of reducing an individual household energy use and emission (draught proofing, insulation etc).

E V’s are more expensive but prices are coming down all the time. Various sources claim EV purchase price will be the same as petrol/diesel vehicles within the next 2 to 3 years. Also some organisations are planning to import second hand EV’s from Japan. ‘Normal’ electric/petrol hybrids certainly help through better petrol consumption, but if our aim is to reduce household consumption by 50% then arguably they don’t reduce emissions enough. Plug-in hybrids on the other hand reduce petrol consumption significantly and could have a place, particularly in rural areas where charging points in the short term may be less available.

We look forward to debating these points when we are able to get our events up and running again. In the meantime we have BBSN members who have purchased EV’s and plug in hybrids, and they will contribute their e experience at our next event. In the meantime our guest speaker Paul Paton suggests you google’ The Driven’ podcasts.  These include topics such as ‘Why your EV will be a virtual power plant’ and other EV topics.

*Petrol car emission = (litres per 100 km x 0.0238) x km per year /1000 = tons CO2 Example: 8 litres per 100 km x 0.0238 x 14000 km per year divided by 1000 = 2.66 tons CO2

 ** Average Household emissions assumption: 50,000 MJ gas and 14800 kWh electricity per year.