Fairfax Tech Column

Fairfax Tech Column

30.11.2018 Fairfax Tech Column 123


I am an unabashed fan of electric cars. I also believe that if you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. To that point, I am currently driving number seven electric or electric hybrid car since 2005. In order: Toyota Prius; Toyota Camry Hybrid; Holden Volt PHEV; Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV; Nissan Leaf; Lexus NX300h Hybrid and Tesla Model S (seven vehicles from six different manufacturers). In addition, my wife; daughter and business manager all currently drive hybrid vehicles. I won’t go into detail on the relative merits of all of these models but I will talk about the upcoming choices we are about to see in Australia as there are a plethora of models coming soon.

The Hyundai Ioniq will be available within several months and comes in three versions. Hybrid; Hybrid Plug-In and purely electric. The electric version will have a range of 230km from its 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack and it will take 9.9 seconds to reach 100km/h from a standing start. The best part is the price. Less than $45,000 for the all-electric version.

My favourite value for money car from my personal usage was the original Nissan Leaf. You could pick one up for just over $30,000 and it drove sedately and had a real-world range of just over 100km. That last stat was what delivered very poor sales in Australia. Nissan learned a lesson from that and they are reintroducing the Leaf – but this time with a range of 240km from a 40kWh battery with a 60kWh battery option coming which will push the range to 360km. Expect a resultant increase in price – but I expect it will be competitive with the Ioniq. Don’t expect any chest compression issues with the acceleration – with a ten second time to reach 100km/h.

Hyundai will also be bringing in a small SUV all electric vehicle. A 300km range and 470km range version will be available from a 39kWh and 64kWh battery respectively with a 7.6 second acceleration time to the century mark. Pricing will be very competitive in the SUV space with the base model starting at the $50K mark.

The Tesla Model 3 is the world’s most anticipated vehicle ever with 500,000 orders placed for the car despite the facts that people had no idea of the price or the timeframe. Those pre-orders included a $1,500 deposit meaning Tesla generated three quarters of a billion dollars in deposit revenue. Details are a little sketchy but it is estimated there will be a model with a 355km range and version with a 500km range. The 5.6 second sprint time is slower than their flagship Model S but the pricing from $50,000 is also much gentler than the Model S pricing.

The Kia Nero is not quite an SUV but a CUV – Compact Utility Vehicle. This model has an acceptable acceleration time of 7.8 seconds and is offered with two different battery packs of 39kWh and 64kWh for a range of 310km and 480km respectively. The price will be in the vicinity of $60K to $65K. 

The BMW i3 has been available since 2015 but a new version will be released early in 2019. It is available in all-electric and range-extending petrol in both standard and sport versions. Pricing starts from $70,000 and the all-electric has a range of 200km.

The Jaguar I-Pace is another all-electric with Tesla-like acceleration with 4.8 seconds to 100km/h. It has a rated range of 480km from its 90kWh battery pack. Glance the other way when you look at the price tag though - $120K plus some.

The Audi e-tron quattro further demonstrates that just about every manufacturer is trying to keep their models current (excuse the poor pun). This car has generated significant discussion amongst car enthusiasts with a luxury car maker tackling Tesla head-on (and another pun). With the 95kWh battery giving a range of 500km and acceleration time of 4.6 seconds, the Tesla Model X has a serious competitor. No definite pricing is available yet – but expect it to marginally eclipse the Jaguar.

For a country that has traditionally been an early adopter of technology, our sales figures are lagging behind the rest of the world. It has been widely reported that a lack of direct government incentives has led to a reluctance by manufacturers to bring their vehicles down under. Despite the government’s reluctance to embrace the technology, we are finally starting to see the manufacturers bring variety to our shores.

Mathew Dickerson