Electric vehicles (EVs) seem destined to become a big part of our future. Our panel of experts share their thoughts on how to make the switch to a greener driving option.

Consider your environmental impact
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki - author and science commentator

Climate change is real, and it is happening. But everything that’s happened, so far, is reversible. EVs are part of the package for reversing conditions and bringing them back to something better.

People probably have the image of Australians as rugged outdoor types, but we are more urbanised than the United Kingdom. We have a vast concentration of people in the cities, and we have got real estate to burn. So, we can easily get all of our electricity very cheaply, entirely from two major renewables: solar thermal and wind. We’ve got the easy capability to do it.

The role of EVs in all of this is that cars account for, depending on where you are in the world, approximately 5 to 25% of a country’s emissions. That’s a significant number, so it’s an easy one to target - a low-hanging fruit. The state of play is moving very quickly. So, we’ll get the old technology, while in Europe the major car manufacturers have all stopped research and development into internal combustion engines. They're still making them. They’re still selling them. But they’re not investing research and development - it is going into EVs.

I am moving down that pathway towards buying an EV. We’ve got an internal combustion engine car, it’s glorious, we love it - and we’re going to get rid of it. It’s part of the schedule of what we’re going to do: getting rid of the solar cells we have on our roof because there are more efficient ones, getting a couple of batteries, then getting ourselves an EV.

Hear more from Dr Karl Kruszelnicki:

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki - author and science commentator

Bring the right experts into your team
Peter van der Westhuyzen - executive director, Macquarie Personal Banking

Just like you would with a petrol or diesel car, it’s really important to think about what you’re going to use your new car for every day. Do you need it for short trips to work? Do you need more space for the kids’ weekend activities? Deciding what the use of the EV is will help you to decide what the right car is for you.

Being armed with information is a very good thing. There’s a lot of information online, so you can very quickly get an idea of what’s out there. You can also talk to dealers, you can talk to car manufacturers, you can talk to friends and family members. You can also, of course, look at online car reviews.

To be confident in buying a car, you do need to have a good level of understanding of what this all means. That includes new terms such as charging speeds, kilowatts, battery range and charging infrastructure. Also, the layouts of the cars are new and different. What does that mean? How does that improve your vehicle experience? Ultimately, it comes down to: what does it mean for me in the real world in my day-to-day driving?

The other option is to use a car buying service such as Macquarie Vehicle Select. Our customers who have used the service tell us they valued having access to an expert during their buying journey - with Macquarie Vehicle Select, you get to talk to a team that is full of motoring industry experts, and you can talk about your needs. It’s a dynamic conversation where you can ask questions along the way. Once we know what your needs are, we’ll go away and do the research and come back with some options for you. That means you can make a really informed choice.

Hear more from Peter van der Westhuyzen:

Peter van der Westhuyzen - executive director, Macquarie Personal Banking

Take a serious look at what you really need
Doug McNamee - CEO, Jolt

There are a number of factors that have traditionally been barriers to EVs - cost, range anxiety and availability of charging - and they’re eroding. Another thing that’s been an issue has been availability in Australia. But there’s been a lot of investment in the industry at all of those points to reduce the barriers to ownership.

The first thing you want to do is understand your vehicle use habits. What are you actually using your car for? Once you’ve done that, it will be clear that there are going to be a lot of vehicles available to you. Then, it’s choosing brand, speed, price and luxury. 2021 was a great year because we saw EVs coming into almost every category. You can now get a small SUV, you can get a van, you can get a small runabout, and from next year, you’ll start to get large 4WDs as well. The full market is covered, depending on your trip type.

Secondly, there are probably a lot more charging options than you realise. There have been some great programs out there to build a lot of regional charging - government-supported programs and so on. Having some generalised mapping is helpful, and more widespread adoption of EVs will quickly change that perception as well, because people will be seeking them out.

Also, EVs are significantly cheaper to run and they’re really, really good to drive. It’s going to be better for the consumer - you’re going to have a better driving experience from a car that’s got better technology and is going to be cheaper to run. In the long term, they’re going to be cheaper to buy. The consumer is always going to prefer things that have benefits for them. We’re really excited about what we’re seeing from the industry at large.

There’s been no time in history where we’ve had such disruption in the motoring world. It has hugely disrupted how motoring companies think about cars. It’s disrupted how they make them, and how they create exciting experiences for customers. That’s all happening in the electric space. Why would you want to miss out on that?

Hear more from Doug McNamee:

Doug McNamee - CEO, Jolt

Go wide with your research and ask plenty of questions
Amelia Johns - EV commentator and former NRMA EV division manager

We’ve got a whole bunch of people that are early adopters, so they’re already on the road. Then, there’s this huge group of people now who are kind of ready to go. The technology is so far advanced, and manufacturers aren’t investing in the older combustion engines any more, so it makes sense that people are moving more in this direction.

When you’re in that research mode, check out the online communities that are out there. There are some fabulous ones on social media and through different websites, where, especially if you have a model in mind, people share their challenges and what they’re thinking through.

I would also recommend reaching out to local motoring bodies. They’re producing tons of reviews on vehicles and content. They can usually help with understanding what happens once you’re on the road in the car as well, because a lot of people do have questions like, what happens if it does break down, or my tyre blows?

Check for incentives - your local state is where I would start. In New South Wales and Victoria the rebates are pretty chunky, and there are also sweeteners, such as no stamp duty, and moratoriums on road-use taxes.

From the research I’ve been involved with, more and more, the environmental benefits are wonderful and people are really glad that the choice they’re making has that outcome, but it’s not necessarily what makes them hand over the money.

There are things that are familiar about EVs: you open a door, you get in and you sit behind the wheel. That feels familiar. When all the things around that are new, it can be a bit overwhelming. But a lot of thought has gone into making them still easy and intuitive to drive. In fact, they’re probably more intuitive to drive than a petrol car.

Hear more from Amelia Johns:

Amelia Johns - EV commentator and former NRMA EV division manager

Find out how Macquarie can help you transition to an electric vehicle.

Finance is provided by Macquarie Leasing Pty Ltd Australian Credit Licence 394925 (“Macquarie Leasing”), a subsidiary of Macquarie Bank. T&Cs apply. Macquarie Vehicle Select (“MVS”) is a registered business name of Macquarie Leasing. Use of MVS does not guarantee finance will be provided by Macquarie Leasing. Vehicle sourcing is independent of any application for credit. Macquarie Personal Banking is a division of Macquarie Bank. Opinions expressed in this article by third parties are not representative of Macquarie and no member of Macquarie accepts liability whatsoever for any direct, indirect, consequential or other loss arising from any use of this article and/or further communication in relation to this article.

Photograph of Dr Karl by Ross Coffey

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