Getting an electric vehicle (EV) and knowing when you drive around that there's no tailpipe emissions is an amazing feeling. And for those who have been able to get solar panels (and a battery) on their home, adding an EV to the mix means knowing you are driving around powered by 100% renewable energy from the sun.
The vast majority of EV charging happens at home in a garage while you sleep or work, especially if you are only taking short trips that are close to home. If you aren't going anywhere for 8 to 10 hours, the vehicle's charger should happily deliver energy to the battery, slow and steady.
EVs don't need a high power connection in the garage like some media coverage would have you believe; a simple 10 amp socket can work just fine! This will limit your charging power to about 2 kW, which means a full charge from empty will take at least 12 hours for a small EV and up to 2 days for a large one. It is generally recommended that if you can, install a dedicated charge point though, preferably hard-wired into the home's electrical supply.
What about going on longer drives?
The other option for charging an Electric Vehicle is charging while you are on the road with a public charger. These are called rapid chargers, or DC fast chargers! These can be found all over the place and the best way to find them is to download a charger app - try Chargefox or PlugShare.
When you can't find a charger or haven't planned properly, this feeling of stress is known as range anxiety. It is like when you are about to run out of petrol and you get that nervous feeling. With a petrol car you think 'I can just make it to the next petrol station' but available chargers aren't as often as petrol stations if you're travelling with an electric car. This should start to change as more and more people get them though.
Range Anxiety doesn't doesn't have to strike with a little planning beforehand! As more and more people buy an EV as their next car, we're hearing about the lifestyle shift that comes with it. To find chargers, drivers are stopping off in towns they've never thought of, taking new detours and discovering more of the places that they're driving in.
When 1 Million Women Founder Natalie Isaacs first got an EV she didn't really have any concerns -
All I could think about were the pros. Like you can drive around without petrol? Amazing! When I started 1 Million Women 15 years ago, I thought electric cars were something out of a science fiction movie!
Since getting an EV, I've learnt so many lessons. It was a bit of a disaster at first, because I didn't understand the heartbeat of the car - I drove like I would a petrol car. When you get really low on petrol, it's pretty easy to find somewhere to fill up, but this just wasn't the case with my EV! So it really forces you to plan ahead. Anyone who knows me knows I am not naturally the most organised person and I like to be spontaneous, but having an EV requires me to be more organised and plan my trips better. It's just part of the way that I drive now - I've learnt to be prepared for long distances, to charge my EV at home during the day if I can, to stop and top up when I'm out and about, and to never, ever leave home without it on full charge! So range anxiety is generally at an absolute minimum for me.
When you need to find a charging station, having the right apps downloaded also really helps. But there are admittedly some frustrations with this. At the moment, you need to have lots of different apps because charging stations are owned by different operators. Sometimes the app will tell you if any of the charging stations are out of order - but there's another frustration, because sometimes you turn up, and the charging station is out of order but the app didn't tell you that. I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago - it took me ages to drive around and find a charging station to top up for the trip home from Sydney, and I didn't end up walking in the front door until after 9pm!
But my tip for when you turn up at a charging station and it is out of order is to always make sure you call the customer service number. They always pick up straight away, sometimes they can fix the charging station remotely or talk you through tech issues, and if not, they can log it on the app so other people know that it's out of order.
We do need more infrastructure
Charging logistics and range anxiety feature as the top two barriers to consumers buying EVs, with cost coming in a close third.
In a place like Australia, these are very common fears. People are very concerned about the lack of charging stations because of the large distances between cities, and therefore Australian drivers are among the most reluctant in the world to take up fully electric vehicles. However, that's hopefully about to change with ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) announcing $70million in funding aimed at boosting the availability of charging stations across Australia. It is hoped this will in turn help to lessen range anxiety and boost sales of EVs.
Apart from overcoming the hurdles on the supply side, the car industry and governments must address things like access to charging stations so that more and more people can feel comfortable choosing an electric vehicle as their next car!
But according to Nat, it's definitely worth it -
While the infrastructure does sometimes let you down, it is only going to improve as more and more people are driving EVs and so these issues will have less and less of an impact. It's not perfect, but with emissions being so high and transport being such a big contributor, EVs are the way of the future. There is sheer joy in knowing that when you're driving, you're not contributing more emissions.
Thanks to Polestar for being our partner and a car company that has circularity at it's heart, investing in a fossil fuel free future for us all!