The future of driving is electric

Electric vehicles (EVs), are more than just a way to get from point A to point B. They’re a revolution.

Run on electricity – completely or in part – they mark the start of our transition from fossil fuel powered vehicles to a cleaner, greener way of driving. They’re sophisticated and quiet, and despite their slow uptake in Australia, they’re here to stay.

The different types of electric cars are determined by the degree to which electricity is used to power the vehicle. While some people don’t consider hybrid vehicles EVs in the strictest sense, we’ve included them in our summary because they draw at least a portion of their power from electricity.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

These cars run strictly on electricity and don’t have a combustion engine. They don’t produce emissions and the battery capacity determines the driving range.  

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

Hybrids have an electric motor and petrol engine set up, which can work in two different ways. The first is a parallel hybrid where the two motor types can power independently of each other. The second is a series hybrid, where the petrol engine acts as a generator to charge the battery which in turn powers electric motors to drive the wheels.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)

Just like an HEV, a PHEV car uses both fuel and electricity. The battery is charged via a plug-in outlet as well as through regenerative braking. These cars typically travel purely on electricity before the combustion engine takes over the job, increasing the car’s range.

Fuel-cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)

Compressed hydrogen and oxygen from the air react in a fuel cell and generate electricity to power the car’s motor. FCEVs only emit water vapour and typically have a greater range than battery powered cars. On the flip side, hydrogen is expensive to produce and there are very few hydrogen refuelling stations in Australia.

Blue Tesla car driving in the city at dusk

In 2019 more than 2.2 million new electric vehicles were sold globally, a growth of 9% from 2018.1  While charging infrastructure and the upfront cost of purchasing an EV are still proving to be a purchase barrier in Australia, there are some clear benefits prospective buyers can’t ignore.

Think you need petrol to have a car with grunt? Think again. The benefit of an electric motor means you can reach maximum torque from 0 RPM.

You can help reduce air pollution from exhaust emissions by driving a battery electric vehicle. In fact, if you use solar energy to recharge your car from home, you can reduce your carbon footprint even further.

Did you know air pollution from motor vehicles kills over 1,700 Australians per year?2 Increased adoption of battery electric vehicles has the potential to significantly improve air quality and reduce strain on our health system.

Studies suggest BEV owners can benefit from lower running costs, thanks to fewer moving parts and the price to recharge with electricity less than the price to refuel with petrol.

Read Sofia Levin's review of how it felt to drive an EV for the very first time. 

Driving a battery electric vehicle takes a little more planning than driving a traditional fuel operated car. See, the car’s range (how far it can go) is determined by the capacity of its battery and how much charge it has left.

Although the network of ultra-fast charge stations is steadily increasing along highways, they’re not quite as ubiquitous as petrol stations are. This means EV drivers can’t be as spontaneous with their top ups as traditional car owners can be during lengthy drives. And, while the price to recharge an electric vehicle is cheaper than fuel, the typical time it takes to recharge an EV is a lot longer than the time it takes to refill a petrol tank, which could stretch out estimated arrival times.

As a result, the best way to counter range anxiety and ensure a smooth ride is to plan ahead, top up regularly, know your options and understand your driving patterns before starting your journey.

RACV can install a new electric vehicle charger at your home. Enquire now.

  • At home

    • Most EV owners recharge their car at home using a standard electrical power point.
    • Some home chargers can be integrated with a solar panel and battery solution as a sustainable and cost-effective way of charging.
  • On the road

    • There are a number of public charging stations around the country, located in workplaces, shopping centres, hotels and along major roads.
    • The public network is made up of different types of chargers, ranging from fast (100km range in 20 min) all the way to ultra-rapid (100km in 4 min).  

Find an electric charging station near you

Search for spots to top up your EV using PlugShare's database of charging stations. Simply enter your location, select the plug type you need and plan your next trip with ease. You can also filter charging stations by network. We recommend Chargefox if you're looking for a station powered by renewable energy. 

This service is provided by Recargo. Inc and RACV makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information or the security of the service. We recommend that users do not enter their exact home address.

  1. Solar panels work with an inverter to convert sunlight into electricity you can use in your home.

  2. Store excess energy generated from your panels to use on your terms, reducing your reliance on the grid.

  3. Use the power generated from the sun and stored in your battery to charge your electric car.

Find out more about RACV Solar.

The average Aussie drives between 40-60km a day, well within the range of most, if not all, EVs on the market today. However, if you do a lot of long weekend trips or your daily commute totals more than 200km, you might be more suited to a hybrid model than a BEV until more recharge infrastructure is built or battery ranges increase.

Alongside other motoring clubs across Australia, we invested in Chargefox to help boost public charging infrastructure.

In other countries, government policies have helped make EV ownership more attractive and affordable.

California offers rebates of up to $7000 to EV buyers. In Norway, EV owners are rewarded with tax breaks and incentives, such as free parking, free charging and the ability to drive in bus lanes.

In Australia, there are very little tax breaks or incentives, but you can save $100 off your car registration in Victoria. Still, a $100 discount feels a little inadequate against the upfront price tag of an EV, which is generally over $45,000.

While BEVs emit zero emissions on the road, they’re not entirely clean-handed when it comes to their impact on the environment. CO2 emissions still come into play when electric cars and batteries are manufactured, and in the generation of electricity to charge the vehicle when the power is sourced from fossil fuels.

If sustainability is your main reason for buying an EV, the greenest approach is to invest in a solar energy solution for your home so you can charge your car with power generated from the sun, or look for public charging stations powered by renewable energy, such as Chargefox and Evie Networks.

Electric vehicle, PHEV, and hybrid car reviews

1EV Volumes (2019). Global EV Sales for 2019 – Final Results. Accessed on 7 August 2020: