Big ideas at Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival

The future is here: BZE's new report on the feasibility of Australia converting to an electric car fleet will be discussed at the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival.
The future is here: BZE's new report on the feasibility of Australia converting to an electric car fleet will be discussed at the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival.

JUST as solar power is not longer just a dream for Australian households, electric vehicles are longer just a science fiction scenario.

This year’s Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival includes a dinner symposium on Saturday, August 13, that will include presentation of a report by climate think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) on the feasibility of converting Australia to 100 per cent electric vehicles within the next 10 years.

The event, at Club Macquarie in Argenton, has been organised by BZE and the University of Newcastle’s Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment.

The BZE electric vehicle research report will be presented by the organisation’s CEO, Dr Stephen Bygrave, who was a principal researcher on the project.

With the rapid improvement in battery and vehicle technology, the report notes that while electric vehicles will cost about $20 a week per capita more in purchase price, the final operating cost could be no more than traditional vehicles.

A recent story in the Australian Financial Review recounted Jo Hume’s maintenance costs for her BMWi3 electric car. It noted Hume and her husband would drive about 18,000 kilometres over a year and pay $260 to charge the vehicle. They buy their electricity through Mojo Power.

The Humes put about $6 of petrol into the tank of the range extender, which adds 100 kilometres to the 150 kilometre range of the vehicle.

Powershop, another relatively new competitor, offers new customers green power for their electric vehicle for a year after signing up at the same price as regular power.

Origin offers owners of Porsche and Audi electric cars Green Power for their first 10,000 kilometres.

Vehicle owners need a smart meter to take advantage of such deals, which can cost $200-$300, and a car charger - costing about $1000. Mojo Power rolls up the cost of the smart meter into its $35 a month standing charge.

AGL Energy recently unveiled an “all  you can eat” offer to charge electric vehicles for a dollar a day, or $365 a year – fully carbon offset.

The BZE report notes the obvious: urban car travel is well suited to a transition to electric vehicles. The report states “typical urban Australians have a daily driving distance of only 35km, with almost half the trips taken being less than 5km, and more than 99 per cenet of trips being less than 120km, which is within the range of  a relatively modest electric vehicle.

“It is therefore expected that most drivers will take advantage of the convenience and low cost of charging their vehicle at home, most of the time.”

Other members of the symposium panel at the event at Club Macquarie will be Dr Gary Ellem, Future Industries, University of Newcastle; Dr Alice Howe, executive manager business development, Lake Macquarie City Council; Hee Loong Wong, general manager product engineering, Hyundai and Kymberly Noronha, director, Recharging NSW.

The Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival includes activities on Saturday and Sunday at the Newcastle Kart Racing Club track on Cameron Park Drive at Cameron Park.

There will be vehicle displays and a full schedule of competitive racing on Saturday involving vehicles made by students and privateers.

Sunday will feature more racing and various electric vehicle demonstrations (including hybrid, fuel cell and hydrogen), including motorcycles, on track.

Approximately 8 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse emissions are attributed to the operation of passenger vehicles.

Tickets to the symposium dinner are $40 through eventbrite.com.au