Common electric vehicle questions answered

Back of electric vehicle with station pump nearby

Danny Baggs

Posted January 19, 2024

Thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle? Here are the answers to your common electric vehicle questions.

Electric vehicles have charged ahead in recent years. More car manufacturers are launching electric vehicles (EV) in Australia and the public charging network is expanding. All this makes EVs a very real consideration for more motorists.

But EVs are still surrounded by plenty of questions that make potential car buyers hesitate. We've enlisted the help of RACV EV Manager Liam Brady to answer your top EV questions.

Popular electric car questions answered


Are EV sales strong in Australia?

Sales of brand-new EVs are increasing in Australia. 2023 saw the highest number of EV sales so far, with 87,217 battery electric vehicles sold making up 7.2 per cent of the total market. The Tesla Model Y was last year's best-selling EV in Australia and sixth best-selling vehicle over all. The Tesla Model 3 sedan was Australia's best selling medium car, while new EV-only brand BYD sold six times as many EVs in 2023 as 2022, including its popular BYD Atto 3 medium SUV and new arrivals, the Seal and Dolphin.

red Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y was the sixth best-selling passenger vehicle in Australia in 2023. Image: Supplied

What are EV driving ranges like?

"An EV's driving range depends on the size of the car, the capacity of its battery, and where you drive it," Brady says. "That's very similar to a petrol-powered car's possible driving range, except it uses a fuel tank rather than a battery."

Most battery electric EVs are capable of achieving a range of at least 400km per full charge with long range models such as the Polestar 2 long range promising distances up to 655km. The newest EV from Chinese manufacturer NIO recently achieved a range of 1000kms.  Range figures are derived from government standards that aren't always representative of the real world; you can usually knock about 10 to 15 per cent off these claims. That said, each new generation of battery has generally increased capacity and efficiency, which improves travelling distance.

Outside temperatures can also influence an EV's driving range because electricity is used to heat or cool the batteries for optimal performance, users in cold climates have reported diminished range during winter.

Does Victoria have a good public charging network?

More public EV charging stations are being opened every month. RACV, the government, and businesses are all installing charging networks on major routes, including the Hume Highway north of Melbourne.

Chargefox aims to open more than 5,000 EV plugs across the country by the end of 2025. The charging stations can be used by all modern makes and models of EVs, with some that can charge to 80 per cent or more in 15 minutes. The network is supported by large-scale solar and battery installations.


Kia EV6

The Kia EV6 can last more than 500km from a single charge. Image: Supplied

Do EVs take a long time to charge?

How fast an EV charges depends on the car and the charging station. It depends on the power of the charging station, how much electricity the car can accept, and the ambient temperature. Batteries don’t like extreme heat or cold (20 to 25 degrees is considered ideal), so in certain circumstances the EV will reduce how much charge it can accept. EV software may also throttle back charging power as the battery approaches its maximum levels to prolong the life of the battery.

"That’s why many brands quote charging times for an 80 per cent fast charge," Brady explains. "That 80 per cent charge can often be done at full power, but beyond that it may take an hour or more to top up the last little bit."

That said, most modern EVs can be charged up to 80 per cent within about 40 minutes, provided you’re using a DC charger that delivers the car’s maximum charging capacity. AC chargers used at home are much slower than you’ll find at a charging station and will usually require a few hours or overnight.

It will, of course, take a long time to charge an EV from a household power point. "It makes much more sense to install a home EV charger," Brady says. A household power point puts out 2.4kW of power, which for an 80kW/h battery means 33 hours of charging. A 40-65Kw/h battery would take about 15-24 hours to charge. Fitting a 15-amp outlet would bring the time down to around 11-17 hours.

Some EV owners are choosing to install a home EV charging system. These systems typically provide between 7.5-22kW of power, significantly reducing that charge time and making overnight charges feasible.

Are fast chargers that much quicker?

The more power flowing into the batteries, the faster it will charge. Ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging systems can provide up to 350kW of electricity.

The question then becomes how much electricity the EV can accept. For reference, the Kia EV6 has a maximum DC charging rate of 235kW. The  Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Porsche Taycan have a maximum DC charging rate of 225kW. The Polestar 2 can accept a maximum DC charging rate of 205kW, while the Mercedes-Benz EQC has a maximum DC charging rate of 110kW.

For now, the Mercedes-Benz EQC would take roughly 40 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 per cent at an ultra-rapid electric vehicle charger. However, charge the EQC at a regular AC (22kW) plug and you’re looking at almost eight hours, because the EQC is limited to an AC charge power of 7.4kW.


Learn how to charge an electric vehicle on the go with Chargefox.

Can I charge my EV at home?

More Australian households are investing in home charging systems to power their electric vehicle.

A dedicated EV charger at home allows owners to fully charge their car overnight or during the day, so they won’t need to leave the house for top-ups. You can even use renewable electricity generated from solar on your rooftop to charge the EV.

How do EV service costs compare to petrol and diesel cars?

RACV’s 2022 Car Running Costs Survey, which highlights the cheapest cars to own and run, found that EVs were the cheapest type of car to service and power.

Average EV monthly servicing costs accounted for just two per cent of total monthly out-of-pocket expenses, compared to a survey average of three per cent. That's because they are far less complex than an internal combustion engine, and the electric motors don’t usually require regular maintenance, generally outlasting other components of the car.

EVs are also typically cheaper to power than petrol/diesel vehicles, with charging costs accounting for just six per cent of the total monthly spend - well below the survey average of 13 per cent.


person charging an MG ZS EV

Charging an EV is simple and can be done on the go or at home. Image: Ben Weinstein

What unique features do EVs have?

Many EVs offer a unique driving experience that can be just as fun and involving as your petrol- or diesel-powered car.

Silent operation is a key bonus for EVs. Without the rumble of an engine, your driving experience will be a lot more serene. If you like to play music or podcasts in the car, expect a much purer listening experience.

Smooth one-pedal driving is another unique EV feature of some cars. While EVs have both an accelerator and brake pedal, it's possible to use only the accelerator pedal for speeding up and slowing down. Some EVs will slow and even pull to a complete stop without you having to press on the brake.

EVs often have a low centre of gravity by mounting the battery under the floor. This may offer smoother handling and a surprising amount of nimbleness both in urban city traffic and on the freeways.

Electric motors can also deliver their maximum torque (pulling power) much more quickly than a petrol or diesel car, making for quicker initial acceleration.

Can you get an EV in Australia for less than $50,000?

The price of EVs is falling in Australia, with less expensive EV models available in Australia now or soon to arrive. Some EVs under $50,000 include:

  • BYD Dolphin, from $41,405 driveaway
  • GWM Ora, from $38,583 driveaway (until 31 March 2024; then from $42,583 driveaway)
  • MG4, from $43,131 driveaway
  • MG ZS EV, from $44,173 driveaway.

Two more popular BYD cars are just over the $50,000 mark including:

Low-interest Green Car Loans can help you purchase an EV. There are also EV rebates being offered by Australian federal, state and territory governments that can reduce purchase prices, stamp duty, registration fees, and more.

More: Tesla Model Y compared to the BYD Atto 3



The MG4 EV hatch is priced from $42,127 driveaway. Image: Supplied

Do all EVs run on electricity only?

"There are actually three main types of electrified vehicles, according to the definition accepted by most car makers and both major Australian political parties," Brady says.

The first is a pure EV, or Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), referring to cars that run only on electricity.

The second is for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs), which can run for shorter distances - usually about 40 kilometres - on electricity alone, but have a petrol engine for longer distances and/or higher speeds.

The third type of EV is Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs), which have a hydrogen fuel tank rather than a battery. This tank performs a chemical reaction in the fuel cell to create electricity, which then powers the electric motor/s.


Learn more about buying, owning and charging electric vehicles.
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