Why size doesn't matter with EVs

The argument that large electric cars don't fit with an energy constrained future misses the point that EVs, whatever the size, are the perfect customer for renewable energy.

Should all electric cars be small? That's the suggestion made by Ross Blade in his article published on Climate Spectator this week, "Why large EVs may cook the planet", which paints a dark picture of a future with big electric cars.

But the article misses the point that electric cars, whatever the size, are the perfect customer for renewable energy – they are a catalyst for change because they help make the grid green. The mass adoption of electric transport powered by renewables would help to smooth grid load and support investment in further renewable capacity.

For our part, Better Place is committed to using renewable energy in our EV network. We signed our first $60 million deal with ActewAGL in the ACT last year and we’ll sign more as we expand our network across Australia. We’ll use this energy to serve every electric car with a plug, whether it’s made by Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi, GM Holden, or Blade Electric Vehicles.

Renewable energy is the best option for electric cars because it delivers truly zero emissions driving. When combined with managed charging, renewable energy helps to smooth the demand curve and ensure drivers wake up every morning with a full battery. And in the case of wind power, often criticised for its intermittency, it is produced mainly at night – exactly the time that most electric cars will be plugged in to recharge. Right now many of these renewable electrons go to waste.

Renewable energy is available today, in ample supply, and as the proportion of electric cars on our roads grows, capacity will grow to meet the demand. Additionally, as our country moves further towards a low-carbon economy, there will be greater demand for renewable energy from a broader range of customers. The cumulative effect of more demand for renewable energy is likely to be more investment in renewable energy.  

On the point of large electric cars versus small, the Commodore was selected by EV Engineering because it’s been Australia’s highest-selling passenger vehicle for 15 years. When you’re investigating the technical viability and customer attractiveness of a large electric car, it makes sense to choose the car at the top of the list.

Developing a fully electric large car with a switchable battery enables the engineers to establish whether it’s possible to address some of the needs that aren’t met by small electric cars currently on the market.

A small electric car isn’t right for everyone, just as a small petrol car isn’t either. Fleets, businesses, families and individuals all have different needs.

There’s a place for small electric cars in our sustainable transport mix, but it’s not the only one available. We should remember that Henry Ford used to say “you can have the Model T in any colour you like, so long as it’s black”.

My car is silver. What colour is your car?

Alison Terry is Head of Automotive, Director EV Engineering at Better Place

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