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$12 for an 800km drive: Avoid soaring petrol prices and buy an electric vehicle

·4-min read
EV plugged into charger
There's been a huge surge in interest in electric vehicles since petrol prices started to climb. (Source: Supplied)

Will Wise has been driving an electric vehicle (EV) for a couple of months and says the car has saved him a lot of money, even before petrol prices started surging.

He recently road-tripped in his Hyundai Kona to Narooma, which is around 400 kilometres south of his home in Hornsby Heights in Sydney’s north.

Wise and his partner needed to take two cars on the trip, so the EV and his wife’s petrol car hit the road.

He said the trip to Narooma and back cost him $12.05. By contrast, his wife spent around $120 on petrol for the round trip.

“And it’s only a Mazda CX-5 - hardly a petrol guzzler,” Wise said.

The $12.05 was for a recharge at a paid charging station, he said. He was otherwise able to find free chargers along the way, and charge free at the Airbnb (you can now filter for EV charging through the platform).

He said the trip was before petrol prices soared above $2 a litre, with many experts predicting fuel prices would climb even higher.

A little more planning was required for a long-distance EV trip to find charging stations, he said, but this would become progressively easier as more infrastructure was installed.

He stopped to charge at three different public charging stations on the trip there and back, as well as charging at home before he left - which contributed a little extra to the total cost - and the Airbnb. The Hyundai Kona has a range of around 484 km.

Interest in electric vehicles exploding

Wise has been able to score an EV through his business, Vyro, which is trying to reduce the costs of buying the low-emissions vehicles in Australia.

While typically cheaper to run, EVs come in at a higher price tag than conventional combustion-engine vehicles.

One of the cheapest EVs on the market is the MG ZS EV, which costs around $41,841 for a 2021 model.

Monthly <a href="https://www.canstar.com.au/car-loans/how-much-does-an-electric-car-actually-cost/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:running costs for selected electric vehicles" class="link "><ins>running costs for selected electric vehicles</ins></a><ins>.</ins>

NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said upfront costs remained a serious barrier for buyers, as did the limited choice of models in Australia.

He also said charging infrastructure remained an issue. “But we're certainly making progress in that space.”

On the flip side, EVs are easier to service - which keeps down maintenance costs - and are much cheaper to run.

“Just speak to an EV driver and they’ll tell you,” Khoury said.

He also said the first few EVs trickling down onto the second-hand market were holding onto their value.

According to new data from Australian auction house Lloyds Auctions, Teslas are fetching more on the second-hand market than their original retail price.

“Right now, we have a 2022 Tesla Model 3 on offer with the current bid sitting at $71,000, where they actually retail for around $68,000 and the bidding is set to close in a few days time,” said Lee Hames, chief operations officer for Lloyds Auctions.

Hames said high petrol prices were a factor in the resale pricing.

Most second-hand cars are in high demand due to a global shortage of computer chips that has slowed car manufacturing, with many models being sold for more than their original sale price.

Electric car interest accelerates

Khoury said skyrocketing petrol prices had cemented in the minds of Australians that electric vehicles were the future.

“There's every likelihood that it will just be brought forward now,” he said.

However, he said the current energy crisis “won’t be solved overnight” by everyone buying an electric car immediately.

“There has to be more short-term solutions provided globally,” Khoury said.

Wise also said since petrol had ticked over $2 a litre, interest in EVs had exploded.

“We talk to a lot of our customers and what we're hearing from them is that petrol prices are just getting too high,” he said.

As well as sky-high fuel prices, the enthusiasm is driven by government incentives, including the Queensland government’s new $3,000 subsidy, as well as the arrival of several new models to Australia.

He expects to see a tipping point when family-friendly EV models reach price parity with a popular family car, such as a Mazda CX-5.

“So you're looking at the $40,000-45,000 mark, brand new,” he said.

Will an EV be cheaper for me?

Whether or not an EV will be cheaper for you will depend on your needs and your driving habits.

You can use the Electric Vehicle Council’s online tool to see how much it costs to run a typical electric sedan, hatchback, SUV and van, compared to a combustion model.

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