Sales of electric vehicles will accelerate next year

Rocco Zito, from UniSA’s Barbara Hardy Institute, said electric cars were currently expensive, and few models were available. But he said by 2012 the range of vehicles on the market would grow. ‘Next year is going to be a big one for electric vehicles because companies like Nissan are going to make their electric car available at a competitive price,’ Dr Zito said in the latest UniSA magazine.

‘Manufacturers are saying that fully electric vehicles will make up 20 per cent of their production by 2020. ‘The biggest factor so far is price, so as soon as you start to get some price parity between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles, electric cars will really start to become a larger portion of the fleet.

‘It’s also about peoples’ mindset – if petrol was $5 a litre then all of a sudden these very economical electric cars would quite obviously become more efficient in terms of total cost of ownership.’

Dr Zito said UniSA research found that running a fully electric car was anywhere from half to one third of the cost of running a similar petrol-fuelled vehicle.

He said they had also ‘busted the myth’ that electric vehicles were not suited to driving in Australia because of their limited range. He said while electric cars could only travel between about 100 and 150 kilometres on a single charge, this was more than adequate for most people.

In Adelaide 97 per cent of all trips were found to be less than 100kms while in Sydney this dropped, but only to 91 per cent. ‘So, while electric vehicles can’t replace all journeys, they really can be used for a significant amount of the travel that’s happening in our major cities.’

But Dr Zito also warned that electric cars were not necessarily more environmentally friendly with their green credentials dependent on how their power was generated.

Electric cars recharged with electricity generated by from non-renewable energy were responsible for about the same emissions as conventional petrol models of a similar size. ‘Just because it doesn’t come out of the tail pipe doesn’t mean it’s not coming from somewhere else,’ he said.