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Charging the debate

Our readers have their say on the future of electric vehicles in Tasmania, and the need for more EV charging stations.

Our article in the August/September issue of Journeys – ‘Homing in on range’ – has caused much debate. We acknowledge that this article may have appeared to some readers as a criticism of the vehicle itself. However, the intention of the article was to highlight the challenges faced by electric vehicle (EV) drivers due to a lack of charging infrastructure.

We have published two vehicle reviews of the Hyundai IONIQ – in February/March 2019 and in June/July 2019.

We are keen to share the letters below to encourage further debate of the issues and opportunities surrounding the uptake of EVs in Tasmania.

In addition, the State Government announced in August the successful recipients of fast-charging grants that will assist with the rollout of EV chargers around the state. To the right is a map detailing current and future planned charging infrastructure for Tasmania.

We will continue to keep readers informed about the rollout of EV charging infrastructure, as well as the advancement of EV technology through new car reviews as well as other articles.

In this issue we have also reviewed the new Hyundai Kona EV for our Sunday Drive feature.

Paula Sward, Editor

Terry Bienefelt, General Manager - Motors (Cars), Hobart

I refer to your article in the Aug/Sep edition featuring the fully electric Hyundai IONIQ on a trip from Hobart to Launceston. 

I was quite bemused to find that someone would actually attempt a 200km journey with only a fuel resource of 195km.

Would anyone attempt this trip in a petrol driven motor car? If they did, they would have the same challenges as an EV powered vehicle – that is, to drive conservatively to save fuel.

I thought your article unfairly criticised the full EV Hyundai IONIQ, which is in fact a class-leading fully EV with a real-world range of 230km (fully charged). Perhaps your readers would have been better served by highlighting the infrastructure that is being planned in our major cities and surrounding country towns.

I am convinced that the range anxiety that your article focused on will be a thing of the past as we migrate from fossil fuel drive vehicles to full EVs. Take the full EV Hyundai Kona for a test drive and you will be amazed at what Australia’s first 100% electric small SUV can deliver – zero emissions, instant acceleration and a staggering range of up to 449km on a single charge. The perfect car for a trip from Hobart to Launceston, with only coffee to order in Campbell Town.

Dick Friend, Hobart

Would you send an unfit person to complete the Cradle Mountain track wearing thongs? I hope not.

Yet this is akin to the trip your author undertakes in a low-range EV from Hobart to Launceston, using the wrong settings (not using the regenerative battery for half the journey). And then he concludes that Tasmania has deficient infrastructure for uptake of EVs. The Hyundai IONIQ is unfit for longer distances without recharging, particularly if not driven as it was designed.

I drive my EV from Melbourne to Hobart without recharging, and maintain maximum highway speeds and whatever air conditioning is required for comfort. But then my vehicle (a four-year-old Tesla S) is fit for purpose. 

No mention in your article was made of EVs with appropriate range for long-distance driving, as though all EVs would struggle as did your correspondent.

Alan Gregory, Yolla

According to the 2018 readers survey, as described on page 12 of Journeys April/May 2019, one of the challenges preventing take-up of EVs in Tasmania is running costs. How can this be? Fuel costs are very low, especially if charged from solar power, and our Nissan Leaf service costs amount to less than $100 per year. 

Not listed (strangely) is the fact that no new fully electric cars were available in Tasmania during 2018, which is surely the biggest deterrent of all!

Sue Berger, Beaconsfield

The best way any driver can help when they see a zero emission car is by being patient with our speed.

We might be going slow. Perhaps too slow and it might irritate you to be behind a slow vehicle. My request here is for people in this situation to be patient.

Let me explain. When a zero emission driver finds themselves low on charge, the situation can easily be a case of a power point being too far away to get to in time. This can happen unexpectedly if there’s been a lot of highway driving, for instance. The draw is heavier. All of a sudden, the driver needs to travel a distance further than the fuel gauge says there is charge for.

So we slow down. We let the regenerative braking do its job and put more charge in the battery. We look for hills that we can coast down, for instance. The point here is we can easily be in a situation where we need the regenerative braking to give us charge.

To everyone else on the road, we’re just a car that’s travelling slowly. I ask that you cut us some slack. 

When it happens to me, I’m happy to pull off the road and let cars past. I understand I’m slow and that it’s irritating and it is genuinely embarrassing for me.

However, I cannot pull off the road if there is someone behind me, up close to my rear bumper trying to hurry me along by staying really close. I need distance behind me in order to blink, slow down and pull off the road when conditions allow. Sitting on a slow car’s rear bumper is quite prevalent in Tasmania, I’ve found. And while drivers do it, it stops me from being able to pull off the road. I need space.

Drop back. Allow me to slow down enough to pull off the road. Us zero emission drivers are coming to terms with a new system of driving. It’s a steep learning curve. Forget monetary incentives, give us patience and time!