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Monday, 13 January 2020 10:33

EVs will need to become the norm if we don't want to burn the planet

The Nissan LEAF. The Nissan LEAF. Courtesy Blackburn Nissan

If the ongoing bushfire crisis has taught Australians one thing, it is that the use of petrol and diesel vehicles will have to be minimised in the future in order to avoid pumping more carbon into the atmosphere and making the problem worse.

And that means electric vehicles will have to start becoming the rule, not the exception as they are now.

Prior to the 2019 May election, the Australian Labor Party offered as one of its policies a subsidy on electric vehicles. But the government that was elected had no such policy and as a result any Australian who has to buy an electric vehicle today will have to fork out from his/her own pocket.

Electric vehicles are not cheap. I recently had a test drive in the Nissan LEAF, one of the three EVs that is available for sale locally — the others are from BMW and Hyundai — and the price is something that a medium-level petrol vehicle will cost.

There are some pluses: services are only required once every 20,000 kms, there is a five-year warranty, the drive is very smooth and the handling is exceptional. But the cost is still a big factor; the LEAF costs about $50,000.

leaf panel

The front panel of the LEAF. Courtesy Blackburn Nissan

The issue of charging is being minimised slowly by more and more charging stations being built; additionally, as iTWire reported last year, global digital transformation company Schneider Electric has tied up with EV charging infrastructure installer JET Charge to provide charging equipment for the LEAF for single-storey homes.

This will add an additional $2000 to the cost; one can charge the vehicle overnight at home using stored solar power. Another charging option costs about $500 and the cable can be plugged into any domestic point.

Charging stations are being installed around the country and the fact that the LEAF can run about 300Kms on a full charge will soon not be a drawback.

But for the environmentally-conscious individual, there is a big plus: no more fumes.

The interior of the LEAF is very neat; the instrumentation panel and the rear viewer are very easily readable and clear. The software in the car is also very good, responding immediately to touch.

There are numerous safety features, as is common in most cars these days.

A subsidy from the government, as was done with solar panels, would go a long way to making these vehicles more common on Australian roads. In the long run, the EV will have to become the norm as one major measure to reducing the country's emissions and helping reduce climate change.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.





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