Are you interested in investing in your very own electric vehicle?

In this Eco Chat episode, Dan Deleur joins us to discuss the pros and cons of electric vehicles. As Vice Chair of the Australian Electric Vehicles Association South Australian Branch (AEVA SA), Dan represents an educated real world view on the update of EV (electric vehicle) uptake in Australia. 

He is an automotive enthusiast, Defence trained fitter-armourer and civilian trained automotive fabricator and plumber. His extensive list of hobbies include auto racing, permaculture, keeping chickens, bee keeping and Obsessive Compulsive Gardening (OCG). 

Dan’s interest in EV’s originated in auto racing 10 years ago and is augmented by his desire to reduce his environmental impact. His most recent endeavour is designing and building an Independently Constructed Vehicle (ICV) which is predominantly constructed utilising secondhand parts from several manufacturers, the most relevant of which is the electric motor and drive trained sourced from a 2013 Telsa Model S.

Resources:

Dan’s Project Distraction YouTube Channel 

Australian Electric Vehicles Association South Australia

Podcast: Play In New Window 

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how did you became an electric car enthusiast?!

Dan:

The short answer is social media.

Social media is very good at introducing people to random objects they are not really accustomed to.

I’ve always been a little bit different. I like to think outside the box. My Dad always helped me create and fix things and I’ve always thought a little bit outside the fads and trends. So when all my mates were into Australian cars, I was into Japanese cars as they were a little bit more technical, there was a bit more involved with them. I’ve always like to fix things and make them better. So I would modify my friends cars to make them more like the cars I was driving which were slightly more technologically advanced. 

Once I joined the Defence Force I learned a whole bunch of new skills as a Fitter and Turner Armourer. I was able to built my skills and knowledge base, and when I left the Force, I started my own business in the automotive industry, doing performance based modifications on vehicles. I’m a hot blooded male, doing all the dumb stuff that we do, and wanting to go faster and all the rest of that stuff!

With my own business, I need a social media presence so I started a Facebook page. And if you think about how the algorithms work on Facebook, basically you search for one random thing and the Facebook algorithms store that information and chuck other stuff back at you. So there was this  1972 Datsun “White Zombie” in America had been converted to electric and it was breaking all sorts of records on the drag strip. At the same time, I had a 1972 Datsun coupe and the will to make things go faster. This was back in 2010. Once “White Zombie” was chucked in my face, I really did a lot more investigating into electric vehicles., Tesla was making some real waves in the automotive industry and you could say that’s when the seed was sown.   

can electric cars go as fast as a traditional INTERNAL combustion engine VEHICLE?

Dan:

Way way way faster ! Simply put they are just rockets. For example, if you put the entry level Nissan Leaf up against, say a Subaru WRX or Holden Commodore, the Nissan will accelerate a lot quicker.

Laura:

The reason I asked is because I’m the daughter of a hot blooded father whose passion and hobbies revolved around cars and car racing. We grew up with a V8 engine, and people like the sound of that engine. I didn’t inherit that passion, but I can appreciate it in other people. 

Dan:

The way I like to explain it, and I get asked this a lot, is that when you feel the acceleration when you’re sitting in the seat of an electric vehicle, it overtakes the need for the noise you would typically hear from a traditional combustion engine. You completely forget that the car isn’t making a noise because you are focused on what the car is actually doing.  

why do more people need to be driving electric vehicles?

Dan:

It can be broken down into a couple of things. Environmental impact and climate change is one of them. If you sit in your internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE) in traffic, with the window down, you can smell the emissions surrounding you. Smell is often a good indicator. If it smells bad, it’s probably not good for you. 

Laura:

We are talking about the air pollution component of a ICE. So that’s the particulates that come out of the exhaust pipe. It’s nitrous oxide, the gas that contributes to the smog over our cities and contributes to air pollution. 

So with an EV, you are not burning fossil fuels anymore and if you are recharging them at home from perhaps a battery charged by solar, that’s green energy.

There is also the health benefit of not having that by-product, those emissions, coming out of the exhaust of an EV. 

Dan:

That’s 100% what I am getting at. There are respiratory issues caused by the nasties you mentioned, and if you are living on a main road, think of the noise implications. It can change your sleeping patterns and we all know that sleep is a huge part of health and wellbeing. 

Think about if you are sitting in traffic and wind down the window and a truck pulls up next to you. Trucks often have a higher decibel rating than a jackhammer. If you’re using a jackhammer, you have ear muffs on but you don’t do that if you are sitting in traffic. You can directly link those health and environmental issues to the impact it has on the economy. For example, how much does Medicare cost taxpayers? What are the health implications of exhaust emissions and how much is it actually costing us?

I think what we need to do is consider the rule of scale. If more people buy electric vehicles, the cheaper they get, and the cheaper they get the more people buy them. If demand increases for EVs, then production will increase and this will support the improvement of technology. 

Laura:

You are raising benefits I hadn’t really thought about because, before moving to Adelaide, I had lived in remote Australia for 17 years and noise pollution from vehicles wasn’t something I had to content with. But I do remember, back in my uni days living in Melbourne about 20 years ago, there was always particulate on my windowsills and I had to dust every few days. It’s not as bad in Adelaide, but it would still exist.  

how are electric vehicles different to internal combustion ENGINE vehicles?

Dan:  

It comes down to efficiency. An ICE has about a 40% efficiency rate of converting fuel into motion. If you think about how much fuel you are putting into your tank, dollar wise, you are only getting about 40% of that back in actual motion. However, if you look at one of the top of the line EV, you are getting about 92% efficiency. 

If you compare your common Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon against the equivalent EV model, the Model S Tesla (unfortunately at a much higher purchase price), your Commodore or Ford has an efficiency rate of about 25-30% compared the to Tesla which is about 90%. It’s an amazing difference. 

An ICV has thousands and thousands of moving parts which all absorb small amounts of energy. Whereas an EV has about 10 moving parts. It’s a pretty mathematical calculation to figure out. 

And apart from the health benefits which we discussed before, electric vehicles are also convenient. So charging your car at home, using solar, is a huge benefit. You don’t need to go to the petrol station to fill up. When you get in your EV, you can see what your vehicle is capable of in terms of distance and its immediately at your disposal. A definite advantage of an EV is regular servicing. As there are far less moving parts compared to an ICE, there is very little servicing required. That’s less time spent dropping your car off at the mechanic and being left with no vehicle for a period of time.  

Laura:

Lets touch on the cons of EV. I know you say being quiet is a pro, but as a mother of two young children, and one of them doesn’t really have a well developed spatial awareness, I need to drum into them to look both ways before crossing the road. Their argument is that they will hear a car, but with electric vehicles you won’t. I guess that’s something, as a pedestrian, that is a con. With technology, automatic stopping may be something that developed. 

Dan:

I understand completely, there’s certainly no judgement in that regard. I’ve been in a situation myself, when we held an event here in Adelaide last year, where we wanted to showcase the electric vehicles. The only way to do this was to have them moving around. We had to organise marshals etc. at the event as people are not 100% aware of how quiet they are. So it is an issue that has been highlighted from numerous groups of people. 

let’s talk about the travel range of an electric vehicle

Dan:

That really is the elephant in the room when it comes to people buying an EV.

A small range EV, like the Nissan Leaf, would have a range of about 200 kilometres on full charge. But you’ve got that pretty much every time you jump into the vehicle if it’s been put on charge. If you think about the average person, taking the kids to school, going to work, etc. they are not going to do 200km in a day. However, there are serious limitations for weekend use, going on road trips and for country users. 

Laura:

Living in Roxby Downs for 13 years, it was roughly a seven hour drive from Adelaide, and we would do that in one go (with a few stretch breaks on the way). Would you be able to do that in an electric vehicle, perhaps stopping to recharge along the way ? How long does it take to charge up?

Dan:

Depending on the vehicle, the range, the particular charge, there’s a lot of variables in that regard. Using the Nissan Leaf as an example, which you can pick up for about $18,000 secondhand without too much battery degradation, that would need to be charged twice to do that distance, and each time would need to be plugged in overnight.

If you look at Tesla, the pinnacle of current technology, you are looking at about 400-500 km range. So you would still need to stop and recharge, but you can do a top up charge for a few hours and continue on your journal until you are able to fully charge overnight. There is an app available for smart phones that shows where all the charging stations are available.

Laura:

I’m wondering if its an obvious move for taxi’s and Uber’s to become more electric to cater for the market who really want green travel. 

 

Dan:

When you think about taxi’s, the Toyota Prius hybrid has been popular for quite some time. You are hedging your bets in essence, as you have your range but you also have the benefits of an electric vehicle and saving huge amounts in fuel as the vehicle actually starts its movement using electric drive. But it really depends on the price point of the vehicle. A taxi drive runs a business. So every cost can either be tax deductible or not. If there are more costs involved then that’s a con.

 

can you share what model electric vehicle you have and why you choose that one?

Dan:

It’s a bit of an odd answer that I have to give. And I’ll apologise for that.

Laura:

You’ve probably got an old Hot Rod or something!

Dan:

So I have owned an electric vehicle, a Mitsubishi that was purchases from a damaged vehicle auction. I purchased it for the parts to carry out a project I was working on. 

But I will put it out there. I don’t currently own an EV. The reason for this is that I drive a work van (as I’m a plumber) and its not really sustainable to have another vehicle when its not required. 

If I was in the position when I did need another car, it would straight away be an EV. I actually have quite a substantial amount of parts from a Tesla Model S sitting in my shed for an electric Hot Rod which I’m building. Bit of a shameless plug, but I’ve started a YouTube channel called Project Distraction with this project being my main focus, plus the other distractions in my life.  

What is AEVA and how to people get involved? 

Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) is a national group of like minded people that meet once of month to discuss EV’s. We have guess speakers come talk to us about a range of topics such as solar charging, electric vehicle manufacturers, battery manufacturers etc.

It’s an inclusive and diverse group of people from all walks of life. We welcome anyone to come along to one of our meetings to see how it works and meet some like minded people. Even if you just have a few questions, everyone’s happy to answer. 

Where do you see electric vehicles in the next 5, 10, even 20 years?

Dan:

I’ll discuss what I think will happen in Australia. And then what I’d like to happen.

I think Australia is a little bit behind when it comes to electric vehicles in the general population. And I think it’s the government that is letting us down. They need to focus on what the population wants, and start introducing and supporting the uptake of EV’s. At the moment, we only have about 30% of the vehicles available to us in Australia, keeping the prices high.

In 15 to 20 years, I believe we will certainly reach price parity in Australia and electric vehicles will be cheaper, if not the same price, as internal combustion vehicles. I see a future where both types of vehicles will be around, but the electric vehicle will be your daily commuter and the infrastructure (charging stations etc) will be a lot better worldwide. 

Laura:

I know that some Councils are looking at putting in charging stations, and that something that happening all around the world. I’d like to think that it would happen a lot sooner than the 20 year timeframe given the critical nature of climate change and how we really need to get off fossil fuels entirely.

Final Thoughts

I would urge our listeners to personally embrace it and go out there and learn a little bit more about electric vehicles and work out a goal for themselves to move into an electric vehicle when it comes time to upgrade their current car. 

Over to you!

Have you made the switch to an electric vehicle? Share in the comments below!

 

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Laura
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