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Trevor Collett | Jun 24, 2017

As Australia’s energy debate heats up, particularly supply issues and future energy sources, a bystander in the debate could be the electric vehicle.

Nissan in particular has been vocal on the lack of state and federal government incentives (virtually zero) in Australia to encourage the uptake of EVs, but the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has learned that the means of supplying the required electricity may also be an issue for potential customers.

A study found customers were mostly attracted to the ‘green’ credentials of EVs, even to the exclusion of purchase price and shortened ranges (‘range anxiety’).

“High purchase costs and short driving ranges have been considered to be the main factors which impede people’s decision to buy electric vehicles,” QUT Business School’s Dr Kenan Degirmenci said.

“Since electricity needs to be produced from renewable energy sources for electric vehicles to be a true green alternative, the environmental performance has also been presumed to be a factor.”

The study took place in Germany, comprising interviews with 40 customers and 167 would-be customers who test drove electric cars.

Surprisingly, the majority placed the importance of the vehicle’s ‘green’ factor ahead of price and range as critical factors in the decision to purchase (or potentially purchase).

To that end, electric cars failed when it came to ‘real’ carbon emissions when recharged using energy generated by coal.

“For example, a petrol-driven vehicle produces 119g CO2-e/km, of which most are on-road emissions. In comparison, an electric vehicle produces zero on-road emissions,” Dr Degirmenci said.

“However, if electricity is generated from coal to charge an electric vehicle it produces 139g CO2-e/km well-to-wheel emissions, compared with only 9g CO2-e/km well-to-wheel emissions with electricity from renewable energy sources.”

Dr Degirmenci said the results of the study were relevant to Australia because the transport sector accounted for 16 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and 85 percent of these were generated by road transport.

Currently, only Tesla and BMW offer models for sale in Australia powered exclusively by electric motors.

Image, top of page: 2014 BMW Solar Charging Carport Concept

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EVs | QUT | Study

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