Electric Cars: The Ultimate Guide – SolarQuotes TV Episode 10

Sales of electric vehicles should overtake ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles within just a few years. In SolarQuotes TV episode 10, Finn explains why the EV takeover is inevitable and how solar power will play a crucial role in helping make it happen.

Also, from testing range anxiety on a long Tesla road trip to checking out a perfect EV and solar power pairing; plus Ronald crunches the numbers on EV costs and we take a glimpse into a fully electric future. All this and more in this month’s episode of SQTV!

Common EV Questions And Answers

00:23 – As a driver of an electric car, Finn has quite a few conversations with people about it – and there are several recurring questions; including:

  • How far can it go before the battery is flat?
  • Can you charge it at a servo?
  • What car do you use if you want to go on a really long trip?

Finn answers these questions and estimates how long before it’s game over for internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. It’s probably a lot sooner than most people think.

Can EVs Go The (Long) Distance In Australia?

03:23 – The short answer to the question about whether electric vehicles can travel long distances in Australia is yes.

For the longer answer, check out this segment where Finn takes his electric car on a 928 kilometre (each-way) trip to pick up a puppy.

While a long trip may take a little extra planning depending on where you’re heading, the good news is things are only going to get better as more charging infrastructure pops up around Australia (and there’s always a wall socket around if need be).

Big Savings From “Solar Powered” Electric BMW i3

08:28 – Chris in South-east Queensland shows us his fully electric house and electric car – a BMW i3. Chris started out with a 10 kW solar system a few years ago – which is still pretty large by today’s standards. But after seeing the great value it provided, Chris upgraded the house to 3-phase power and now has 28.8kW of panels – a very big system for a residential installation.

Chris says key to making the most of his monster system is moving loads such as the pool pump and EV charging to the middle of the day. He talks about his Zappi Charger, which has the ability to charge the car as fast as his system would be exporting surplus energy.

Chris estimates he’s saved around $18,000 on fuel and servicing since acquiring the i3 and “the car drives as good, if not better than when it was brand new”.

“Basically, I don’t have a power bill any more, I don’t have a fuel bill any more, I get paid roughly a thousand dollars a quarter from my power company – and I’ve got the best car I’ve ever driven!”

Finn points out while Chris paid $72,000 for his BMW i3; based on his numbers he’s arguably still well ahead – and electric cars are only getting cheaper.

Installer Profile – EV Charge Australia

11:14 – Sasha Stella is a solar installer who has jumped into EVs in a big way, setting up a dedicated charging business (EV Charge Australia) in preparation for the electric car revolution. Sasha shows us some of the gear he’s installing for commercial and residential markets, outlines the costs for setting up a home charger and provides some handy tips.

“I don’t believe my children will drive a combustion engine,” he says. “They’re five years away and we’ll push them towards an electric vehicle.”

Solar Tech – Chargefox

14:08 – Chargefox is an Australian company that has been going gangbusters as interest in electric cars in Australia starts to really ramp up. The company has ultra-rapid EV charging stations from Brisbane all the way through to Adelaide, plus a couple in Perth and one in Tasmania – and the network will continue to grow. All Chargefox’s ultra-rapid chargers are powered by 100% renewable energy.

ChargeFox’s Evan Beaver talks about some of the company’s activities, shows us charging setups and connectors, and how he handles charging of his Nissan Leaf,

Single vs. Three-Phase Power For Charging EVs

16:30 – Another question Finn hears a lot:

“Should I go for three-phase or is single phase enough to charge an EV?”

Finn runs through the options for home EV charging, how each performs and their pros and cons.

To summarise:

“If you’re building a house or running a wire from your garage to your switchboard for an EV charger – run three-phase. Three-phase cables aren’t that much more than single-phase cables when you take into account the cost of labour. The expensive bit’s the labour.”

Ned’s Review – Electric Mini

20:03 – Ned takes SolarQuotes’ Chantel’s Electric Mini for a spin, which he likened to riding in the Millennium Falcon.

Ned’s not much of a car guy per se – this is more of a casual review. He found it didn’t take long to get comfortable with the vehicle, everything was really intuitive and it was fun to drive.

“If this was a solar installation review like I normally do, that’s easy – 5 out of 5; or if Mini Cooper want to sponsor my segment – wink – that’s a 6 out of 5”

But Finn says if you see Ned in new electric wheels to let him know.

“There’s no car for comments here at SolarQuotes!”

If you’d like to read more about this vehicle, check out Ronald’s in-depth review of the Electric Mini from last year.

Petrol Vs. Electric Car Costs And Savings

22:23 – Ronald’s crunched the numbers and found buying an electric car can bring big savings.

“I’m very excited about electric cars … It’s very hard for anything to excite my ancient, blackened heart. So, this is a very positive sign.”

To read Ronald’s calculations and commentary, see his new article: Electric Cars Vs Petrol Cars: How Much Can You Save?

Finn also springs a surprise on Ronald, who is in Queensland. Finn will only pay for his air fare back when the SolarQuotes Youtube channel subscriber count reaches 15,000. Help bring Ronald home and subscribe today!

The Future Is Electric – And Very Soon

27:20 – Renowned author, speaker, educator, angel investor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tony Seba believes EV disruption will totally remake our cities, transportation and the world’s emissions profile. And it will happen a lot sooner than many believe; as few understand just how fast disruptive technologies can take hold as technology adoption is not linear.

Finn cites a couple of previous examples, including solar power.

“The International Energy Agency has consistently and massively underestimated solar panel uptake every year for the past 10 years – and that’s how EVs will play out.”

Among the many advantages of electric cars that will accelerate their uptake is their fewer moving parts – 20 or so vs. an internal combustion engine’s 2,000+

Seba says the EV is close to zero maintenance and makers will be able to offer infinite kilometre warranties. And of course, in addition to near zero maintenance is zero emissions.

“Seba predicts a 90% reduction in emissions in transport by 2030 – not because of governments, but in spite of them.”

For a bunch of videos on everything solar energy related and other SQTV episodes, check out and subscribe to the SolarQuotes Youtube channel!

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Yolanda Rojas says

    Good information generally. However it failed to give more information on batteries. That is, how much do they cost to replace? How long do they last? and more inportantly What’s happening with their disposal?

    • From Ronald’s recent post:

      “Most EVs have battery warranties that last 7 or 8 years with normal use, and I think few people will want to replace theirs before 10 or more years have passed. I expect many EVs will keep their original battery packs for 15 years but we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.

      So far, none of the people I’ve talked to who are interested in buying a new electric car is much worried about the cost of replacing the battery pack.

      At the moment, the price of EV battery packs is around $140 per kilowatt-hour. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years electric car manufacturers couldn’t source them for half that amount.

      At $70 per kilowatt-hour, a 50 kilowatt-hour battery pack would cost $3,500.”

      • George Kaplan says

        Finn, of those interested in buying a new car you’ve talked to, are they more the BMW set, more the Joe Average inexpensive Toyota etc, or more the cheap secondhand car type?

        Folk who can afford a BMW obviously won’t be worried about battery pack replacements. Those who think in terms of an inexpensive new ICEV will definitely factor that in. Those wanting the absolute budget option will doubtless avoid EVs simply because of all the costs.

        Your point about costs in 10 years is interesting. How many folk presently opting out of solar batteries and EVs expect costs to have fallen radically next decade? If that happens then the paradigm could change radically – next to no fuel tax being collected, far less bothering with a grid connection etc.

    • The ABC published a good article recently about the status of battery recycling in Australia. The overall storyline was that the car manufacturers are teaming up with specialist recyclers and that there is a lot of value in recycling EV batteries.
      Very interesting read.

  2. There is a big topic that never gets mentioned directly when it comes to renewables and EV’s seem to be no different.

    Our economic foundation needs growth to sustain itself. It’s been the best model to deal with population growth and lift people from poverty into something better.

    It comes with a big downside: Any reduction in economic activity is evil and will have all elements in society fight to prevent this from happening. No one wants a recession. That’s the definition of overall savings in our economic system by the way – Recession. Let that sink it for a second.

    My professor for energy management pointed this out and gave us the task to find out how much fossil fuel is saved because of renewables.
    We couldn’t find any savings.

    Instead, we found that the placement of offshore wind farms was actually increasing the consumption of coal as the placement made the existing (old) coal power plants nearby operate even further away from 100% which in return made them consume more coal for less electricity.
    This is also reflected in macro-economic data of the EU’s annual fossil fuel consumption even though we factored out economic and population growth.

    He himself was a big advocate of renewables. He just wanted us to be aware that creating net savings on a macro-economic level basically makes you an enemy of society.

    What does this mean for EV’s? They are currently cheaper but as soon as they go mainstream there will be a push and reasoning to keep the annual costs of car ownership on the same level or higher. And if it’s not possible to do this, then costs somewhere else will rise.

    Think of the 300,000 full-time car mechanics that will have no meaningful income with EV’s taking over and the dealerships losing business on a big scale. The cost savings that we currently see will bite us somewhere else.

    Or the fact that the big manufacturers like VW and Toyota are already planning and lobbying for becoming energy suppliers with the car they sell you. Probably their strategy to counter the loss of the lucrative service business.

    My next car will definitely be an EV. But I won’t expect to have more money left at the end of the year when they become mainstream.
    This also leads to the conclusion that you are better off getting one sooner than later 🙂

    Please keep up the good work. Love your newsletter.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      The idea that coal power stations operated efficiently before renewables is an odd one. They would chug up and down and when they couldn’t meet demand it would be supplied by oil, gas, and hydro generation. There’s also not much difference in efficiency a coal power station operating at 60% and one at 100%. Those boilers are pretty big so increased waste heat per kilowatt-hour doesn’t amount to much. It’s generally a few percent decrease in efficiency. Note, that’s a few percent and not a few percentage points.

      Check Opennem for to see what renewables did to coal power in South Australia this century:


      Note: Purple imports from Victoria in the past were almost all coal power.

      • Hi Ronald,

        They never did and thanks for pointing this out.
        Especially not the super old ones that are still running in Australia 🙂
        No matter what you do with them, they are simply inefficient.
        Different story with supercritical plants that achieve okay efficiencies but only in a narrow band and have a steeper efficiency drop.

        In Europe, you have a different grid composition that is very different to Australia.
        The example I gave was a finding in data that showed how a great technology applied in not so great ways can lead to a net gain instead of savings.

        We were bummed, to say the least. And it was just one of many where the gains were offset in one way or another.

        In hindsight, I should have taken an example that relates to Australia. Thanks for the link by the way. Very interesting.

        Looking at how the grid will transform to charge mainstream EV’s we will most probably not see the most efficient technical solution implemented like the one you have shown us.
        Plant a solar panel on a roof, car park,… close to the vehicle so you save on transmission cost and integrate the batteries into the grid management.

        I’d be amazed if that is the way EV charging will be implemented on a scale.

        Or we’ll see charges on every W charged or discharged measured via smart meters in the car and automatically billed to our account.

        In any way. What about we keep this topic in mind and return to it in a few years when EV’s are mainstream.
        Will the average car owner pay less, the same or more for mobility then?

        At the moment let’s enjoy the savings.

  3. Would love to see an article on how and when we will have widespread ability to use an EV as a home battery? As far as I’m aware there is only one supplier of bi-directional chargers here in australia?

  4. Leanne Hampshire says

    Hi Finn et al,
    Thanks for the EV video, especially the tip about 3 phase power! I’m after your thoughts on buying a used EV: I’ve signed up to emails from Good Car, a Tasmanian-based group selling used EVs. I, like many people, am really excited about EVs. They’re obviously the future. I think the only way I could afford to purchase an EV is to buy a used one. I live in Darwin and our nearest “large” town is Katherine, 327kms away. The car I need must be able to tame my range anxiety. My concern is the cost of replacing the battery of a used vehicle. I have no idea 1. How long the battery of a used vehicle will last and 2. How much a new battery would cost. I also don’t really know which vehicle will suit me best. Do I forget about long road trips for now and get a used Leaf or a Mini and just use the EV around town or would this be a bad investment? I might add that we first need to get our solar panels installed before I purchase an EV!
    Thanks again for the excellent and easy to understand research that you do on our behalf,

  5. Michael Hermann Kraemer says

    Your observation that dealerships will lobby to preserve car ownership cost and preferably increase it is sadly true. The billionaires run the economy. They can bribe their way to any result they want. 3D printed houses are only half the cost of currently built houses but the construction industry will oppose the switch and young home seekers will be deprived. As a former patent attorney I saw invention ignored because the established methods were filling the pockets of the wealthy

  6. Brian Taylor says

    Personally, I would be careful about buying an EV at this time, for two reasons:
    1. Battery tech – almost all current EV models use battery chemistry Lithium-Nickel-Cobalt, but there is a better one coming on the market now: Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP). The newer ones last twice as long, are cheaper, do not catch fire and do not degrade like the older tech when charged to 100%. Today, the new type batteries are only made in China, so a Shanghai built Tesla Model 3 (or Y) has them, but no other Tesla – yet. BYD vehicles have them, but the Chinese MG does not.
    I expect that this will be the preferred type in future, so I will wait for a LFP vehicle.

    2. Cost. During 2022 and 2023 there will be a large number of cheap EV’s coming on the market at prices not too different from an ICE vehicle. Most of these will be made in China, and some will be from Chinese brands (BYD will be one EV maker to watch), but of course now MG, Volvo, Polestar are all Chinese owned. Expect several good choices available at around AUD 35K.

  7. Nick Meadows says

    All this talk about how ev are going to become mainstream won’t happen, as long as the nay sayers conservative liberal/national party remains in power and I expect them to be in power for years because the majority of the Australian voting population are conservative voters.

    • Brian Taylor says

      The Australian Government will be essentially irrelevant. EV’s will dominate because the will be cheaper than ICE, and because worldwide auto makers will stop making ICE passenger cars.

      Countries are now banning the sale of new non-EV’s quite soon, for example: Norway – from 2025, UK and EU – from 2030
      See the Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase-out_of_fossil_fuel_vehicles

      The current support systems will decline – Dealers, car servicing, spare parts, petrol stations.

      Good luck in selling a non-classic ICE vehicle after 2030.

    • Norbert Reni says

      No problem with me. Happy to declare publicly that I’m a CONSERVATIVE. With a PV system on the roof. And a compost bin. And a garden that doesn’t have one exotic plant in it. That’s cos’ I’m a CONSERVATIVE. ;- )

  8. Dose of reality salts following…

    The (industry standard guide Redbook) depreciation cost of the BMWi3 over 7 years is ~$550/month and would cost $28,000 more than a top spec Corolla (a larger car) and over $30,000 more than a similarly sized top spec Suzuki Swift.

    Kind of blows away any claim to be “arguably well ahead” on the basis of petrol and maintenance savings.

    We all love the idea of EVs but can we not feed bullshit about the actual cost of ownership? This sort of flakey analysis is seriously lacking and misleading.

  9. Replacing a towing ICE car with an EV seems to be still a while away. The cost of EVs that tow is very high and the extra weight of a boat, caravan or tradie trailer will draw so much power. Have you got any thoughts of how Australia and the rest of the world will cope with this ?

  10. My concern is with battery fire. Have read about the recall on a couple of well known model vehicles here in Australia, and the companies battle too have them replaced within a short time frame.

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