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Australia, like America, is a large country.

But, unlike America, we have vast areas of our nation that are largely uninhabited or uninhabitable. Anyone who has driven into the Outback knows that it is a long way between watering holes. And petrol stations. And charging stations. In fact, most Roadhouses use diesel electricity generators for their power source, so no advantage to EV emissions situation out there.

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I could not cope with EV range limitations and recharging times or anxiety over finding a working recharger ahead. Especially when towing a trailer, recovery would involve a flat bed tow truck with towing equipment, and probably a very long wait for it to arrive, if my mobile phone is in range of a tower. Or maybe ask a truck driver via UHF radio and hope that he passes my help message on.

I am not opposed to new technology including EV but until the prices are competitive, until I receive value for my 4WD trade-in on a new EV 4WD with the same capabilities, until recharging stations are as easy to locate as fuel stations and time taken to recharge is similar I am not interested.

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As a regular around Australia traveller since retiring, and in business but most often by air, my 2013 SUV travelled 200,000 km by 2017 and my present 4WD has travelled 110,000 km despite me being a grounded carer from mid-2018 to early 2020 and restricted by COVID until recent times.

That pointed out I would welcome the end of liquid fossil fuel and ICEV servicing expenses, my reasoning includes reducing pollution (not CO2 that is essential for life on Planet Earth) and reliance on importing liquid fuel and oil. 

But we must maintain coal fired power stations and maybe add some faster to start natural gas power stations, hydro where practical and cost-effective and as soon as the governments come to their senses (big ask) nuclear power stations even in the small modular design, possibly also reactors with thorium and molten salts fuels.

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To cope with essential baseload power constant demand, peak period demand  and a growing need when the time comes EV fleet power stations are necessary.

 However, Hybrid Technology is the most promising right now I believe, maybe with hydrogen fuel cell generators instead of fossil fuel engine power.

Then again, maybe “Field Propulsion” - magnetic field power. There are now “MagLev” or magnetic levitation trains operating. 

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Who knows what the future will provide, Cobb & Co Coaches ended their journeys in 1925 in Queensland first and then Australia wide, and QANTAS Airways commenced commercial air travel from Longreach Queensland Base, consider those aircraft compared to the latest Joint Strike Fighter F-35 and other modern aircraft, and flights into space.

Electric motors are reliable technology and have advantages including producing torque constantly, unlike an internal combustion engine that has a torque band of revs per minute to produce the most usable range of torque. Electric motors are used in numerous applications from tools to diesel-electric railway locomotives.

And during the late 1800s electric cars were produced for sale and purchased by many buyers, in New York USA they were used as taxi cabs and the City provided recharging points at various locations around the CBD.

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The first electric vehicles were out and about in the late 1800s, at about the same time Daimler, Maybach and Benz made their first automobiles. Electric vehicles were popular then because they weren’t as noisy, smelly and shaky as their petrol counterparts, nor did they require hand-cranking to start or gear shifts; “electricity” was also a newfangled trend back then.

But then Henry announced his Model T Ford with a gasoline/petrol fuelled internal combustion engine that could be refilled from cans at the roadside quickly enabling drivers to venture into the countryside and on long drives. Very quickly the EV sales declined and production was discontinued. There have been various EV designs since including milk delivery trucks in the UK and other examples.

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So why has it taken so long for EV to penetrate the passenger car and light commercial vehicle markets, late 1800s to around about 2010, and then less than 1 per cent of the world fleet are EV. In some EU nations and some US states EV have done better but with government/taxpayer subsidies and penalising ICEV (Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles). Why so?

The most obvious short list is as follows, not necessarily in this order;

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  • Retail price for an EV is considerably higher than an equivalent model ICEV.
  • Convenience of refuelling/recharging handicaps EV owners, 80% recharge takes 30-60 minutes on a fast charger.
  • An 80% recharge cuts range short by 20% off theoretical maximum achievable.
  • A 10% cut off monitored by the EV battery management system protects the batteries, so another 10% range loss.
  • Recharging points are few and far between and/or often are not operating which can be a disaster for drivers. 
  • There are exceptions, Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane now has many recharge stations, but 30-60 minutes waiting time.
  • Trade-in value of ICEV will fall considerably if EV sales are forced by governments.
  • Why should we taxpayers pay for EV recharging stations, we did not pay for fossil fuel service stations?
  • Free market capitalism is based on market forces deciding winners and losers, EV should compete for sales.
  • Home charge 240V can take many hours or a 415V system several hours, but the local grids cannot cope with many of these installed, local grid upgrading and new sub-stations will be essential, so who pays for this upgrading work? Even commercial premises face this supply problem.
  • And what do we gain, IF emissions reduction was needed, driving expensive EV here when most of the electricity is generated by fossil-fuelled power station generators, eg: coal supplied EV energy? 

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And consider the danger of EV, maybe not a major threat but given the tiny fleet worldwide of EV there have been too many reports of fires for my comfort … Exothermic Reaction: potential for an inferno taking hold quickly caused by batteries over-heating during charging, battery pack in the vehicle floorpan being bumped hard (speed bumps) or a road accident with another vehicle or a stationary object such as a tree roadside.

The EV fire required huge amounts of cooling water before the fire can be extinguished, and can re-start later without warning, example while in a wrecking yard.  Yes this might be a rare event but I would not like to be inside if an inferno commenced. ICEV also catch fire, not often, but those fires are able to be extinguished quickly and rarely result in a crisis.

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In my view the future for EV is coming, probably with emphasis on city and suburban driving and owners would have an ICEV for family holidays and weekends away, country people will stick with reliable long range ICEV transport. 

On the other hand Hybrid Technology is a better than EV option I believe, that is an EV that has a fossil fuel engine driving a large generator that charges a small battery set and will supply the electric motors directly when more power and torque is needed. City taxi cab drivers claim that Hybrids are good. They can usually travel 25 kms or so on battery power alone at lower speeds and fuel consumption can be about 25% lower than the ICEV equivalent model.

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a hybrid combines at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to move the car, and its system recaptures energy via regenerative braking. Sometimes the electric motor does all the work, sometimes it's the gas engine, and sometimes they work together. The result is less gasoline burned and, therefore, better fuel economy. Adding electric power can even boost performance in certain instances.

However, fuel cost saving comes at a premium retail price, much higher price for EV. Hybrid payback fewer years than for an EV ….. consider an EV costs about twice the price of an equivalent ICEV and how much petrol or diesel plus recommended maintenance services that extra cost would buy. EV is for high wealth individuals in my opinion, and including virtue signalling woke people who are well off and/or drive a company supplied EV.

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You know about company cars don’t you? They can be revved hard, driven hard regardless of the expenses incurred that the boss pays.

But when we are paying, it is a different story. 

Towing with EV presents another problem for owners, a road test video covering a diesel Toyota Land Cruiser V8 ICEV and a Tesla SUV AWD EV was conducted from Penrith, a western Sydney suburb close to the “Blue Mountains”, to Bathurst on the other side or western slopes on the Great Western Highway. Why Bathurst? Why Penrith and not City of Sydney? Answer: the EV fully charged 100% could not cover more distance, but the Toyota could and drive to Dubbo further west or more.

https://www.carsguide.com.au/adventure/tesla-model-x-74243

Check it out. 

They both owned identical single axle caravans and as I expected both performed well on the road test, the EV constant torque pulling power matched the V8 diesel. But the EV is about $60K more at retail price. And with towing range for EV about half of what it could achieve with no trailer.

Of course the V8 used more fuel towing than without a trailer but still had far greater range and much faster refuelling time. 

So where does this leave us?

Probably with an electric shopping car to buzz around our local neighbourhoods.

But, for the open road?

It has to be the solid reliance of an internal combustion engine. 

After all, Australia is a very big country and we do love our open roads. 

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