Can you afford to switch to an electric car?

Tesla has announced its new electric car will sell for $45,700. Will you buy one?

Should you buy an electric car?

The co-founder of electric car-maker Tesla, Elon Musk, released photos of the company’s first mass-produced electric car – the highly anticipated Model 3 – earlier this week.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s cheapest model to date, set to retail for $US35,000 ($A45,700). The Tesla cars currently on the market sell for an average of $US90,000 ($A117,000).

The new, five-seat vehicle will accelerate from 0kmh to 100kmh in just under six seconds, and can travel at least 345km on a single charge.

It also has autopilot capabilities including auto lane-change, smart summon (which brings your car to meet you) and automatic emergency braking.

Last week, Mr Musk noted that 100 Model 3 cars would be produced in August, before increasing to 1500 by September and no less than 20,000 produced a month by December.

Tesla has so far received 400,000 pre-orders for the new car with a delivery schedule set for some time late next year. There will be a further nine-month wait for the right-hand-drive version of the car.

Switching to an electric car not only helps the environment, it can represent a significant saving on fuel and other running costs.

The new Tesla Model 3 is being pitched at the luxury car market, alongside cars such as the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes Benz C-Class, which sell for around $60,000 locally. That is already a saving of around $15,000 before the costs are broken down.

Assuming you charge your car’s battery overnight when power is at its cheapest (conservatively 12 cents a Kilowatt Hour [kWh]), you can expect to pay about 1.7 cents per kilometre to restore your power pack, or $1.70 per 100km. That is about a quarter of what it would cost to fill up a fuel-driven car. Assuming a petrol price around $1.20 per litre, a modern petrol-based car has fuel costs a lot closer to $9 per 100km.

ABS figures show Australians drive on average 15,000km a year, which represents a saving of over $1000 a year when plugging in instead of filling up.

In terms of maintenance, it is hard to put an exact dollar value on the difference, but because electric cars have fewer moving parts, they are less likely to break down. Service packages should be cheaper, too, because electric cars don’t require oil changes or cooling system flushes. They also considerably less wear on brakes, as the engine is partly responsible for slowing the car.

One drawback of switching to an electric car, however, is replacing a battery. Over time, car batteries degrade, losing around half of their charge after around 10 years. Tesla offers an eight-year limited warranty on batteries, but they can cost as much as $10,000 to replace when out of warranty.

What do you think? Would you consider buying an electric car? At what price would you be likely to make the switch?



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    11th Jul 2017
    I have been watching the Tesla for ages and can not wait for the Model 3. There are other all electric cars but not here yet keep your eyes open on Hyundai Ioniq as they have an all electric version at around $27,000 Australian (approximately) if they bring them here. The biggest problem is most cars makers do not see Australia as a viable place for Electric cars, according to their marketing people. At least Tesla is bringing them here.
    13th Jul 2017
    Australia is hardly a viable place for electric cars apart from in the cities or perhaps Victoria. Once you start getting out into regional; areas of the other states they are left wanting.
    pedro the swift
    11th Jul 2017
    Electric cars! All very fine but I can't see me driving from Brisbane to Sydney in one. Where do I charge up and how long will it take.Maybe I could throw a lead over the power lines near the road
    Can you see someone going off road in an electric 4WD vehicle? What about towing a trailer or van.Electric trucks or road trains?
    Maybe these issues will be resolved but I can't see it happening in the next 20 years.
    11th Jul 2017
    Mercedes have a 26 tonne electric truck. Look it up.
    11th Jul 2017
    Hello, Hav a look at the Tesla charge stations as I can drive from Melb to Brisbane and plenty of charge stations. Each one takes about 20 minutes while stretching legs, toilet and coffee stop. Do a search for them, Gundagi, Melbourne, Sydney and lots os charges around for Tesla's.
    Also, the Model X can tow a Boat or Caravan, and landrover have an all electric under tests at moment, Australia is being kept in the dark about a lot of Electric cars as Dealers and their marketing departments do not want to sell them.

    Have a look in Europe and you will be amazed what we do not get here
    11th Jul 2017
    It's great that Tesla are bringing their cars out here and the Model 3 looks like it should be great. For people living on the eastern seaboard and not travelling great distances, they are brilliant vehicles. However, I just towed my caravan out to Cobar to do some work out there. There's no way I could do 700 kms, towing a van (1 day's travel each way), with the current electric vehicles available. I also have an issue with the green credentials. Sure, the cars don't produce much in the way of emissions, but what about a replacement battery, what happens to the old ones? What rare earth mining and environmental damage is done to produce the Lithium for the batteries? How is the electricity for recharging, being generated? I don't know the answers to these questions, so it's hard to make a definitive judgement call. So whilst electric vehicles certainly seem to be better for the environment than petrol/diesel vehicles, once all the factors are taken into account, I'm not too sure that they are a whole lot better. Once I give up the caravan and long distance travel, then I might look into an electric vehicle, but for now with my travels around Australia, towing a caravan, I'll stick with my 8 year old diesel wagon.
    11th Jul 2017
    Have a look at long range electric vehicles in Europe that tow. Also, teh batteries are recycled as they recover they recover the rare earth minerals. Do a google search you will see it is happening already. As far a charging them in Australia we are closing more and more Coal and use Wind or Solar or Hydro so will benefit in long term. Look for Cleantech site as it keeps you informed as to what is really happening outside Australia and in Australia as well.

    The first Tesla's are still going after 10years with their original batteries, do not listen to the Car industry as they are looking to protect their interests in you not buying one....

    11th Jul 2017
    $10,000 to replace your battery every 8 years.
    There goes your savings in fuel costs right there
    11th Jul 2017
    Hello, If you have a look at the TESLA cars in USA they have been on the road for over 10 years with the original batteries. The 10 years is spoke about as warranty and car makers using it as that incorrectly.

    As Tesla cars in USA and Europe have batteries over 10 years old still going. Do some research and you will see. It is a Car maker push to stop people buying Electric cars.

    After all a Car engine warranty is only for a few years... and you do not replace it either.... DO some research on Goole about Tesla Batteries life beyond 10 years
    11th Jul 2017
    Just one small problem in all this fellers.

    To get the cars down below all the others, Tesla is depending on the hundreds of million dollars a year that Obama was pouring into them in subsidies. It will be surprising if Trump does not tell them to start standing on their own feet a bit, & dramatically reduce those taxpayer handouts.

    Even the Chevy thing had many thousands of subsidies from the US taxpayer poured into it, & GM still lose a lot of money on each one sold. Perhaps those subsidies don't apply to export sold cars, which may explain why they are not interested in export.

    I suggest you do some research before laying out any money on these things. You could end up with a very young orphan car, with no service or parts available.

    Oh & the old adage still holds true with any car. Never buy one in the first couple of years of a new model. Wait for all the bugs to be eliminated, rather than be a test driver for the company, fixing the problems for them.
    11th Jul 2017
    Have a read of TESLA, as Tesla has repaid the original startup loans. Check with various reports online from Tesla and Government in USA.

    Also Tesla has been on the road for over 15 years.. with Model S and 5 years with X... Model 3 will be here to stay... can not wait to off load my Car and get one.

    After all why did they sell 400,000 before the first one was on the road. I have never seen GM or Ford etc see thousands let alone hundreds pre car release for any model.

    Do your research to read about what is happening overseas.
    11th Jul 2017
    Did you forget the tax subsidies Oz Brown

    And you have to replace the battery after 10 years anyway. unless you want to run mainly of petrol

    don't be a schmuck
    11th Jul 2017
    There is no Engine in the car it is totally Battery powered. The battery last more that 10 years. It is not a Hydrid with Engine and battery. Just a battery, have a look a GM Bolt and Volt sold here 100% battery (although can added an Engine if needed) Tesla is 100% battery only. BMW i3 and i8, also a battery with Hybrid available. Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery and Engine.

    Do your research about the life of Lithium Batteries. after 10 years they are at around 80% capacity still.

    In USA there are state Subsidies and also in Europe, similar we have for some cars here.
    11th Jul 2017
    Well after reading the article and comments I am very happy to be sticking with my 4 litre Fairmont Ghia with its petrol and LPG.
    Knight Templar
    11th Jul 2017
    I would recommend reading Matt Ridley's commentary in the Times (published in today's Australian newspaper). He points out that building an electric car generates considerably more carbon dioxide than creating a comparable petrol model because so much energy is required for the mining and processing of lithium, nickel and other materials for the battery. He argues that the battery accounts for more than half the cradle-to-grave emissions created by an electric car. Fuelling that car from a coal-fired grid like China's or India's make the emissions even worse. Another salient point he raises is the question of where the extra electricity is to come from. In recent years we have struggled to build enough power stations for existing users, let alone adding all cars. The electricity grid (note the blackouts in South Australia) would not be able to cater for the extra demand without increasing the base load resulting in even higher electricity charges.
    11th Jul 2017
    To help clear the comparisons of Electric cars and Internal Combustion Engines Please search for a show called Fullycharged on youtube by Robert Llewellyn's, (England) he does a full comparison of the cars for CO2.

    And clears the miss information on CO2

    The link if allowed here
    11th Jul 2017
    OzBrown No1 shareholder in electric cars. What about the new problem of "battery charge rage " when there are five people in front of you at the charge station ?? LOL Its a novelty and will never happen.
    11th Jul 2017
    Let's get back to question of the topic, is it worth to buy an electric car for a retiree. The cost of the electric cars are getting cheaper and will over the next few years for 100% electric, the cost of charging them will be minimal. Based on current power cost will be around $5 to $7 dollars for 300kilometers.

    For most of us running around for shopping, visiting family, going out and short drives up to say 300Klm round trip will be suitable. compared to the present $60 a fill for the same range. No more Oil and grease changes either.

    I know I would like the extra savings in my pocket each week or fortnight and like your mobile phone can be fully charged overnight as you sleep off the House or the Energy company subsidised power connection some are offering for overnight charging.

    More Money in my Pocket to use as I wish :)
    11th Jul 2017
    All these comments about long distance travel seem to ignore the fact that most journeys are relatively short, ie taking the kids to school. shopping, visiting family and friends, going to work; ideal for an electric car. If one needs to go by road from say Brisbane to Sydney or Perth to Melbourne then a viable alternative would be to hire a fossil fuel car. It's not rocket science. When the electric car is parked in your driveway/garage you would connect up the home charging system so at next use the battery is fully charged.
    12th Jul 2017
    Thanks for your informative comments, OzBrown. Don't be put off by the naysayers here on this blog - I believe they are paid trolls, or maybe they just troll as a hobby.

    And Eddy, also a great comment. I am told there's an Australian in Germany who's developing car panels with built-in solar cells. You wouldn't even have to stop to recharge on a long journey or if you're camping, presuming there's sunlight.

    The other thing to mention is that if you have plenty of solar generation on your rooftop and battery storage (and you're off the grid completely), you can charge your electric car up overnight FOR FREE, and better still, NO FOSSIL FUEL power generation NEEDED AT ALL!!!

    Presently, many people with excess solar generation from their rooftop are selling their clean energy back to the grid for peanuts and helping to deliver green credentials to otherwise dirty power providers. I'll name them, also known as the "Dirty 3". They are: AGL, Energy Australia and Origin. They've started making Green noises of late, in regard to actually investing in their own renewable power generation. By going off the grid, their customers will force their hands on this matter. In the meantime, consider switching to any of the many alternative, pro-renewable power companies. For example, I'm getting 12 cents per excess kilowatt from Diamond Energy.

    I can't wait for cheap battery storage, then I'm cutting the umbilical cord and keeping my approx. $1.60 per day for the poles and wire "access" charge, which was also been increased on 1/7/17.
    13th Jul 2017
    Using the Tesla 3 as our first example, No, there is no saving in going electric. Simply put, there is quite a choice of conventional cars priced in the mid $20K's. Saving $20K immediately. That buys a lot of premium petrol. At this point, Tesla cars do not have a reputation as good handling cars, offering instead rapid acceleration and good top speeds, but not many are talking about dynamic handling and road holding. Buying a car without actually test driving it can be a big mistake.
    As far as the "green" credentials, in the Australian environment, unless you live in Tasmania at least 90% of the power used to recharge your electric car will be coming from either coal or gas. If overnight at home, usually this will be at least 95% from conventional generation. A week ago I did a trip with my elderly mother where the distance each way was in excess of 550 km with few opportunities for recharge enroute. Nissan and Mitsubishi have each had pure electric cars on the Australian market with sales histories that have seen the models disappear after quite short periods, These are dedicated models in their own right. Honda has an all electric Jazz on their home market. All of these electric cars use battery chemistry that is suited for casual city work and not performance highway sprints. Their chemistry should be good for up to 5,000 duty cycles, the performance oriented batteries used in the Teslas may give a few as 600 duty cycles when used enthisiastically.

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