Australia still lags behind the developed world when it comes to the number of electric vehicles on its roads, around 6000 at last count. In Norway, with a population around five times smaller than Australia, more than 62,000 electric vehicles were sold in 2017 alone.
Okay, 62,000 electric vehicles. Are you serious?
Seriously serious. Norway's generous tax concessions for buyers of electric vehicles together with a policy decision that by 2025 only new cars with zero emissions will be sold in the country, has deepened that nation's love affair with electrically powered vehicles.
But Norway is not alone.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts, there will be 125 million electrical vehicles on the world's roads by 2030. China, France and the Netherlands lead the charge for the strongest orientation to pure battery electric vehicles, while Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom have the highest share of plug-in hybrid cars.
The Chinese Government has long encouraged the purchase of electric vehicles through subsidies and incentives so it's hardly surprising that more than 1.3 million New Energy Vehicles (electric and hybrid) were sold in 2018.
So why are Australians slow to surf the electric wave?
Well, a few reasons really, with price probably the most prohibitive factor. Until Hyundai introduced the long-awaited Ioniq Electric this year, it was nigh on impossible to get an electric vehicle for under $60,000.
Add on the luxury car tax, import duties, and stamp duty and suddenly the price of saving the planet seems an insurmountable one.
Then, there is range anxiety. Although research tells us that the average Australian daily commute is less than 20km each way, buyers remained reluctant to trust that they could do the school run, get to work, pick up the groceries and get back home again on a single charge.
Also, our poor, well almost non-existent, rapid electric car charging network failed to offer the same convenience or confidence enjoyed by drivers of petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.
Times, however, are ev-changing. While the federal and state governments dawdle over electric vehicle-enabling policy and wring their hands over a further drop in revenue from the fuel excise, car manufacturers and industry are taking charge.
We now have a larger number of somewhat affordable and luxury electric vehicles available in Australia, or we will by the end of 2019. And not only are they more affordable but their driving range, too, is better than ever with the Kia e-Niro for example, claimed to be able to travel more than 600km on a single charge.
Industry has also taken steps to try and combat range anxiety by investing in a high-speed charging highway powered by renewable energy across the country.
The Australian Government recently boosted that initiative with a $6 million injection of funds to help ensure a charging station at least every 200km. High-speed charging stations can now also be found in some shopping centres, hotels, airports, tourist attractions and places of business.
How do I choose an electric vehicle?
It probably goes without saying but its best to opt for a vehicle that best suits your needs. Consider things like the distance you travel each day, whether your route is flat or hilly, city or suburbs, how many people you will be carrying and where you intend recharging your electric SUV or sedan.
As mentioned previously, the average Australian commuter puts around 40km on the clock each day, mostly around city streets. Driving through city traffic is actually an advantage in an electric vehicle with the energy harvested from hard braking used to regenerate the battery.
The electric cars available in Australia, generally have a real-world range in excess of 200km (not all BMW i3's though) so in theory you should manage most of the working week without a recharge.
It pays to note that actual range depends on a number of factors including how aggressively you drive, how flat your route is, how much energy can be regenerated through braking and coasting, your temperature settings on the climate control and if you are using the radio and satellite navigation.
Where, and how often, you need to recharge your vehicle is also something to consider. Charging at home or work is usually through a normal 240-volt/15 amp electricity supply. The rate of charge depends on the vehicle's onboard charger, so usually 2.5kW – 7.0kW, and can take between four to 10 hours.
You can also have a dedicated EV charging unit installed at your home which will cut down on the charging time. Publicly accessible super chargers provide power to the battery at a faster rate (25kW-135kW) which means that some batteries can be charged in 30 minutes.
How much will it cost to charge my vehicle?
The recharging cost at home, if you are not using solar, depends on the electricity cost in your area, the tariff you are on and whether you recharge at peak times.
The average cost of electricity in Australia is $0.30 per kilowatt, and it takes around 18kW to travel 100km, so it will cost you an average $5.40 to travel 100km, less if you are on a lower tariff.
In comparison, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it will cost an average $16.65 to travel 100km with petrol in your tank and $7.50 per 100km with diesel.
EVs are also cheaper to own as service costs are reduced because you don't have to have items like spark plugs, engine oil and filters changed.
Electric vehicles are also easier on the brakes as regenerative braking fuels the battery rather than wearing out the brake parts.
Okay, so talk me through my choices
Australia has a wide range of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles on offer, but until recently, if you were in the market for a pure Battery Electrical Vehicle (BEV), your choice was limited to the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3 or the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (until 2013).
But 2018 signalled the start of a processions of new arrivals from Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Tesla with the run expected to gather pace as car manufacturers the world over let us in to their electric delights.