Australian Electric Vehicle Buyers Guide

Electric cars are fast becoming more available in a variety of designs to Australian drivers. The electric vehicle revolution means that several plug-in vehicles are available exponentially every year with new models ready for release. This guide will let you know everything you need to know about electric vehicles to their cost, the benefits of driving one, how much it costs to charge and the overall benefits of choosing this vehicle.

Plug this into what?

Electric vehicles or EVs are cars or motorcycles which use a sizable battery pack and electric motor in order to store energy. Pure EVs use only batteries while plug-ins use small petrol engine to extend their range (the time needed between charging). Most moderately-sized EVs have a 16-24 kWh battery, while a full-sized sedan (like the Tesla Model S) has either a 60 or 85 kWh battery. The bigger the battery is, the further you can drive, the more expensive it is.

Perhaps the best thing about these vehicles is their maintenance schedule, check their brakes once a year and rotate every 20,000 km. There is only one moving part, the rotor, making electric vehicles simple and robust. PHEVs however have a more extensive and expensive service schedule requiring oil and air filter changes.

Electric Vehicle Types

The different types available will depend on your area. Hybrid vehicles were once favored over the electric vehicle, but with new battery technology, more people are interested in these vehicles.

  1. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs): This vehicle uses petrol as their sole external energy source with electric energy supplemented by the braking system while stored in batteries. HEVs start with an electric motor with the petrol engine cutting in as load and speed increases. Operation of the two motors is controlled by a computer internally. They usually use fuel-saving tricks from regenerating braking, idle stops, low drag bodies and low rolling resistance tires. The best options in this class are the Honda Civic Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Toyota Prius.
  2. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) or Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs): These vehicles use both electrical energy and petrol. The type of car depends on their primary energy source. The Holden Volt favors electricity while the Toyota Prius favors patrol. With EREVs, the petrol engine doesn’t drive the wheels directly and the range in the car extends as the battery gets low. However, this type requires plugging in to change the battery directly.
  3. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): These vehicles are fully electric. Both BEVs and PHEVs (previously mentioned) are plug-in electric vehicles as they use plugs to source their electrical energy in order to operate. Some BEVs include the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan Leaf.

Cost of Buying Electric Vehicles


Make and Model

Upfront Cost

Annual Fuel Cost

Tesla Model S



Nissan Leaf



BMW i3



Ford Focus Electric



Mitsubishi i-MiEV



Honda Fit



Chevrolet Spark



Kia Soul



BEV Electron


Holden Volt



How Far Can Electric Vehicles Travel?

Some things influence the range between charging including how you drive, what conditions are likely, high speeds, high winds, amount of luggage and passengers and even terrain. The Australian Electric Vehicle Association breaks down the approximate range for some of the most popular vehicles for sale in Australia.

1. Tesla Model S

500 km

2. Nissan Leaf

170 km

3. BMW i3

160 km or 300 km with range extender option using petrol

4. Kia Soul

148 km

5. Honda Fit

132 km

6. Chevrolet Spark

132 km

7. Ford Focus Electric

122 km

8. BEV Electron

120 km

9. Mitsubishi i-MiEV

99 km

10. Holden Volt

87 km without petrol / 600 km with full charge and petrol generator

Ultimately, electric car ranges are improving as newer models continue to hit the market. If someone drives a large distance, EVs are the best options as they allow the most range meaning less charging (less inconvenience and less cost for charging).

As a bonus, any electric vehicles that are registered in the Australian Capital Territory are exempt from vehicle stamp duty and EVs registered in Victoria receive $100 less in annual registration fees.

Talk about a win-win --- help the environment and your pockets!