Do The Economics On Electric Cars Add Up?

Petrol prices make going electric look increasingly attractive

If you drive, you’ve probably noticed a little hip pocket pain at the bowser recently. Petrol prices are soaring to record highs, with prices of around $1.70 a litre now becoming commonplace.

So perhaps it’s a good time to look again at the economics of electric cars. Up until recently, they’ve mostly been out of the price range of the average car buyer. But major manufacturers including Nissan, Renault, Hyundai and a cheaper Tesla model are all due to hit the Australian market in the next 18 months – and with more competition is coming a big fall in prices.

“So where the only electric cars on the market were north of a hundred thousand dollars, now we’re seeing cheaper options around the 50 thousand dollar mark,” says Paul Maric from review and comparison website Car Advice.

But what does that money save you in fuel costs? According to Canstar, the average Australian driver spends around $140 per month – or nearly $1700 per year – on fuel.

Whereas energy companies are now offering prices as cheap as a dollar a day to charge an electric vehicle – a saving of around $1300 per year. So if you’re looking to keep a car for 10 years, that’s an extra $13,000 you could spend to go electric.

Together in electric dreams
Together in electric dreams

But the petrol industry’s peak body, the Australiasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, says that petrol would need to hit a price of around $3.15 per litre in order to break even on the cost of buying an electric vehicle.

And there’s one big hiccup. Australia is well behind the curve when it comes to infrastructure for electric cars.

A recent study found that Australia had the lowest number of public charging stations of the 30 member nations of the International Energy Agency – and the highest ratio of cars per charging point (15.42).

So unless you have a charging station at home or work, you might find it hard going to find somewhere to recharge.

But with some manufacturers saying that they’re shifting to a fully-electric range by 2025, the pressure is on for the government to offer more support for what’s looking like a very electric future.