Just like owners of petrol, diesel or LPG-powered vehicles, some electric car owners like to ‘fill up’ when they see the battery getting low, while others prefer to charge their vehicle wherever they park, to ensure they’re always ‘topping up’ the battery.
To charge an electric car, you’ll need to plug the vehicle in at a charging point. In Australia, there are four main places you can find these charging points: at home, at work, at public locations (such as shopping centres, supermarkets and dedicated public charging stations), and at some petrol stations.
The most convenient way to own an electric car is to plug it in at places that you visit often. So, it’s best to ask yourself “where do I visit or park regularly?” and research all of the charging options that are installed at these places.
There are four main kinds of batteries used in electric cars: lithium-ion, nickel-metal hydride, lead-acid, and ultracapacitors.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery: This is the most popular type of rechargeable battery used in electric cars and a number of portable electronics. These batteries have a high power-to-weight ratio, high energy efficiency and good high-temperature performance, which means that the batteries hold a lot of energy for their weight. This is vital for electric cars – less weight means the car can travel further on a single charge.
Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery (NiMH): This type of battery uses hydrogen to store energy, with nickel and another metal (such as titanium) keeping a lid on the hydrogen ions. These batteries are currently less expensive than lithium-ion batteries, but they are also larger and heavier, which can adversely affect the car’s performance. The NiMH battery is typically used in hybrid cars, such as the Toyota RAV4 PHEV.
Lead-acid batteries: These are only currently being used in electric vehicles to supplement other battery loads. These batteries are high-powered, inexpensive, safe, and reliable, but their poor cold-temperature performance and short lifespan make them difficult to use in electric vehicles.
Ultracapacitors: Ultracapacitors, like lead-acid batteries, are primarily useful as secondary storage devices in electric vehicles because ultracapacitors help electrochemical batteries level their load. In addition, ultracapacitors can provide electric vehicles with extra power during acceleration and regenerative braking.
Charging at home:
Yes, absolutely. This is the most common form of charging, with more than 80 per cent of all electric car charging happening on driveways and in garages across Australia.
Charging your electric car from home is much cheaper and more convenient than any other other form of charging. Check out “How long does it take to charge an electric car?” to see all of the options that are available to charge at home.
Charging on the road:
Absolutely! Just like any traditional ICE vehicle, today’s electric cars are suitable for longer road trips, it just takes a little more pre-planning.
Plan your route around fast chargers and be mindful of range
You’ll want to recharge along the way. When planning out your road trip, find fast charging stations that are on the route – consider where you might stop for lunch, or for a hike, or to explore a new town.
Look for accommodation with EV charging stations
A great way to save time on charging is to stay at hotels or motels that offer a car charging station in their parking lot. These are becoming more and more common across Australia, and are often either free of charge or included in the accommodation price. They’re generally level 2 chargers, though, so they’re best suited for charging overnight.
Use apps and charging networks to find public chargers
The Electric Vehicle Council of Australia has put together some great resources on all of the available charging networks across the country. You can check it out here.
Looking for some inspiration on where to go this year? Check out our top 10 road trips across Australia.