Drive electric, go solar

Petrol, diesel and gas-fuelled cars are a significant contributor to global warming via their carbon emissions. Every day, cars using fossil fuels emit toxic pollutants which reduce our air quality,  affect our respiratory systems,  add to climate pollution and climate change. Countries such as China are now fast-tracking low emission solutions to reduce chronic smog from traffic.

In Australia it’s now possible to choose not to pollute and switch to zero emission electric vehicles – charged via solar power – instead. There are three such 100% electric cars available in Australia for purchase or lease – the Nissan LEAFMitsubishi i-MIEV and Tesla models – and four plug-in electric hybrids with range extenders: the Holden VoltBMWi3, BMWi8 and the first plug-in hybrid electric SUV Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Five of the EV options now available in Oz - the 100% electric Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MIEV, and electric hybrids Holden Volt,  BMWi3 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Five of the EV options now available in Oz – the 100% electric Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MIEV, and electric hybrids Holden Volt, BMWi3 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

The PHEV is half the emissions/twice as fuel-efficient as the Prius hybrid.  It’s also possible to import Tesla electric cars from the US – the new Model S with 500km on a single charge available this autumn. There’s an increasing number of hybrids on the market in addition to the three Prius models such as the Honda CR-Z, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry hybrids. (Further offset your car’s carbon emissions via www.carbonneutral.com.au.)

The Bendigo Bank offers green loans for both EV purchase and solar panels for your home.  Also check out www.financemysolar.com.au or investigate a redraw on your mortgage. Solar-charging an electric vehicle during the day, or via battery storage connected to your solar panels, means you can drive ‘free’ on sunshine – saving several thousand dollars each year on petrol. You’ll also save thousands on electricity bills per year by going solar – in fact combining an EV with solar can halve your payback time and significantly reduce your household’s emissions.

Climate-friendly EVs on display at the recent test drive day organised by the Australian Electric Vehicle Association included one of Perth's two Tesla Roadsters, and a converted MR2, RX7 and Mustang.
Climate-friendly EVs on display at the annual test drive day organised by the Australian Electric Vehicle Association included one of Perth’s two Tesla Roadsters, and a converted MR2, RX7 and Mustang.

It’s also possible to convert a car to electric – see EV Shop Perth and EV Works and in Balcatta for costs and sales of already converted vehicles (from $20,000). There are also electric scooters and bicycles available for even cheaper transport – check out the new Australian-made electric Fonzarelli. If you’re on a farm, large property or resort, it’s possible to buy off-road EVs (including solar-powered ones) made by electric golf car companies – see ADH Golf & Utility Vehicles in Wangara.  Several Perth universities use these EVs as campus security vehicles to reduce their emissions.

In addition to saving thousands off your fuel bills, EVs are far cheaper to service and the RAC now offers discounts to environmentally- aware motorists.  There are charge points located throughout the city, including free charge and park electric car bays at the Elder St City of Perth carpark (12 solar-powered bays), and at Queensgate Car Park in Fremantle (2 bays).

EVs on show at Electrikhana: a hand-built Toyota SERA, a Voltron EVO superbike, the new BMWi3 and an RAC Nissan LEAF.

Watch the Today Tonight story on EVs. Watch the ABC 7.30 TV report on Perth EVs and the creation of an electric highway down south.  Also read about the plan to electrify the Perth to Bunbury route on WA Today and in the Bunbury Mail. See EVs being put through their paces online – watch 2014 episodes of the Fully Charged UK electric car show via YouTube.  Perth also has its very own electric racing car venture  – check out Top EV Racing, which has just launched its Kickstarter campaign.  Formula E electric car racing began in 10 cities in 2014.

Busting the myths about electric cars;  Going electric: NASA greenhouse gas reduction program thrives;   Fremantle Mayor drives electric-hybrid Holden Volt;  China is growing its electric car market;  Bhutan chooses to go all electric with its cars;  World is ready for electric cars;  AEVA – the Australian Electric Vehicle Association; Household solar saving all Australians money;  Why is the Renewable Energy Target so important?;  Protect the Renewable Energy Target; China is subsidising green new energy cars to reduce pollution;  Read Perth’s ‘My Electric Car’ blog by Daniel Booth

There's an app for that - climate control your zero emission Nissan LEAF remotely.
There’s a blue tooth app for that – climate control your zero emission car remotely.
A smart Perth company, e-solar, runs an electric car on its solar energy for free motoring powered by Perth's abundant sunshine.
Smart Perth company e-solar runs an electric car on its solar energy for free motoring powered by abundant sunshine.
Electrikhana2015
New hybrid plug-in BMWi8 on show in Perth – along with new Australian-made electric scooter Fonzarelli.

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Based in Perth, EV owner and solar power user Tanyia Maxted writes on the climate crisis, divestment from the fossil fuels causing climate change, and solutions such as solar-charged electric cars.  She previously worked in water science communication for an Australian Government-funded national research centre, and in science communication for two Perth universities. See archived articles for ScienceNetworkWA and her UK-published books via Amazon.