Tesla Opens Model Y Reservations in Australia!

From the 14th of March 2019, the day Elon Musk unveiled his new Tesla sneakers and then the Model Y at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne California, Australians have been wondering when the car that is destined to become the world’s bestselling passenger vehicle will become available down under.

Elon Musk sporting his new Tesla Nike sneakers at the Model Y unveiling at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California. Photo: mashable.com

It was great to see production begin in California’s Fremont factory in January of 2020 with deliveries following only a couple of months later on the 13th of March. We then had little choice but to spend almost the next year and a half eagerly watching YouTube videos of ecstatic new Model Y owners posting their reviews, and we were all buoyed when we saw right-hand drive orders open in countries like Hong Kong on 2nd of July 2021 and later in the UK on 15th of October last year. We were also glad to see the Model Y fully approved by Australian regulators in September 2021.

When the Australian order page briefly went live on 9th of April 2022, Aussie EV fans were on tenterhooks. Some Tesla enthusiasts such as TOCWA Chairman Rob Dean and his wife Robin got a chance to almost place an order before the reservation page was taken offline but not before they got a chance to take a screen shot. (As reported by The Driven, there was also at least one Australian who managed to pay a deposit that weekend, but their money was later refunded and the order cancelled.)

Rob and Robin Dean’s screenshot of the Tesla Model Y Order page on 9th of April 2022

Rumours and speculation ensued but finally this morning the well-worn ‘Stay Updated’ button was finally replaced with the long-awaited invitation to ‘Order Now’. So yes, it’s finally happening, Australians can now place their Model Y reservations!

 To begin with, Australians are being offered two variants. The entry level Rear-Wheel Drive (which used to also be referred to as the Standard Range Plus) but now known as simply the ‘Model Y’ and the top of the range Performance. Both versions will be made in Shanghai, and they’ll initially only be available in the 5-seat configuration.

The Model Y shares approximately three quarters of its parts with the Model 3 and to the superficial eye it looks almost identical but there are differences. Although both cars share the same platform and powertrains, being an SUV, the Model Y is heavier and bigger in all three dimensions. It is about 41mm wider, 56mm longer and 183mm taller with about 27mm more ground clearance at about 167mm. That said, the Performance with its 21’’ Überturbine wheels will ride a little lower.

Tesla Model Y and Model 3, dimensions comparison. Photo: Tesla Owners Online

As one would expect, the Model Y has more leg room and it’s easier to get in and out thanks to its higher seating positions. I found this to be a handy YouTube video with a real-world comparison between the rear seat leg room of the 3, the Y and the Model X. You can also refer to TOCWA’s very own Grumpy Old Man’s YouTube video at the 4’35” mark. Nigel is currently in the UK taking the Model Y through its paces.

There are also other differences, the most obvious being the Model Y’s hatchback versus the Model 3’s sedan boot design. Additionally, the Model Y’s three rear seats can recline into three positions, and they can also fold down individually compared to the 60:40 split in the M3. There’s also a handy button in the boot of the Model Y enabling the rear seats to automatically fold down and there’s also a hidden manual rear door release. The factory glass tinting on the Model Y is also different in that it runs all the way to the end while the Model 3 tapers off about 60cm from the bottom. Some of these features are demonstrated in this YouTube Video by Tesla Raj starting at the 9’35”mark.

Photo: Teslarati / Tesla Raj

The Model Y also has an additional smaller boot well or sub boot as can be seen in this video at the 5’30” mark and the front boot or frunk is about three inches deeper. There are also two side compartments in the boot as opposed to just the left one in the Model 3. As one would expect, the Model Y has considerable cargo volume, almost 50% more than the Model 3, with the M3 specified at 649 litres and the MY at 971 litres with 5 passengers, or 2,158 litres with just a driver and front passenger.

In terms of acceleration, the Model Y is only a little less lively at 3.7 seconds versus 3.3 seconds for a 0-100km/h sprint for the Performance models and 6.9 compared to 6.1 seconds for the entry level Rear Wheel Drive versions.

Being a larger and heavier car, the Model Y Performance is rated at 514km of WLTP range which is 33km less than the M3P. The Rear-Wheel Drive is rated at 36km less at 455km. When it comes to real world range, however, the EPA standard is a closer approximation with the MYP rated at 488km. Furthermore, this range will be reduced on rough country roads where there is little opportunity to use regenerative braking or when driving in the rain, in cold weather, going up hills, against a headwind or towing. Speaking of towing, the Model Y should be rated at 1.6 tonne braked or 750kg unbraked, as reported here by Bridie Schmidt in The Driven.

As one would also expect, the Model Y is more expensive, however, as I have touched on previously in this article, the Total Cost of Ownership is what is important rather than just the sticker price.

To check prices and delivery time frames see the Australian order page and if you like what you see don’t hesitate to reserve what in the next 3-5 years I’m tipping will become Australia’s bestselling car, first by revenue and then by volume. Considering that EVs account for only about 2% of Australia’s new car sales and the world is currently gripped by supply chain bottlenecks, I realise it’s a big call but to double down further and to be clear, I’m not saying it will just be the best-selling electric car, or the bestselling SUV, or the bestselling car in any other segment, I expect either the Model Y or the Cybertruck to become Australia’s best-selling car, period. With Australia accounting for less than a fraction of a percentage point of Tesla’s global sales volumes, the harder question is whether Tesla will have a global best seller before it tops the rankings in Australia or vice versa.

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

(13 June’22: the range estimates in the 3rd last paragraph of this article were corrected to correctly reflect the figures as per the Tesla website.)

Rethinking the Design of EV Charger Configurations

Having recently come back from a 1,000km round trip, towing a trailer behind our Tesla Model 3, I’ve learned two things. Firstly, we need a denser network of reliable fast DC chargers in country Australia and secondly but equally importantly, we also need to rethink the design of electric vehicle (EV) charger configurations to allow EVs towing trailers to also be able to plug-in. We can refuel internal combustion engine (ICE) cars while towing a trailer, boat, caravan, or horse float, so why not an EV?

Plugging-in an EV while towing a trailer can lead to some creative manoeuvres under the existing reverse-park configurations

If EV demand figures are anything to go by, consumers love EVs, both around the world as well as in Australia and we also love towing our trailers, caravans, boats and even horse floats but how are we going to go combining the two? How are we going to go using our EVs for towing?

With EVs accounting for only about 8.3% of global new light car sales in 2021, there aren’t yet many two-EV households, therefore for the time being at least, when a two-car family buys an EV, it is mainly bought as a second city car, with an ICE four-wheel drive SUV or ute/truck usually the designated towing vehicle. As a result, most manufacturers have targeted their EV sales at this second car market but with EVs growing at a rapid pace, (the 8.3% global figure was a 108% increase on 2020 numbers), contrary to many projections, it may only be 3-4 years before one in every two cars sold around the world is an EV. Furthermore, with 89% of Tesla owners saying they’ll replace their car with another Tesla, many more two-EV households, such as ours, may not be that far away, which means at least one of the EVs may need to be a capable towing vehicle. To put it another way, as Tesla points out, “consumers do not buy cars that can meet most of their driving needs; they buy a car that meets all their driving needs.”

This fact is not lost on car makers several of whom have introduced impressive off-road and towing vehicles including the Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Tesla Cybertruck, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Hilux EV, Ram 1500, Lordstown Endurance, Bollinger B2, Fisker Ocean SUV, LDV Maxus New EV, Canoo EV Pickup and others.

Whether we’ll see any of these models in Australia anytime soon remains to be seen, however, in the absence of a national EV policy and with Australia having become a dumping ground for dirty and inefficient EVs due to a lack of vehicle and fuel emission standards, it is no surprise that car manufacturers have been slow in introducing their EV models to our shores. We’re therefore limited to only a fraction of the models available in other markets. As an example, Europe has around 120 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and over 90 pure EV (PEV or BEV) models on the market. In contrast, with less than 30 models available in our market of which only about a dozen are fully electric, prospective Aussie EV owners are confined to about a quarter of the PHEV selection and less than a sixth of the PEV options. That said, however, with deliveries having already began in some right-hand drive markets, the arrival of the Tesla Model Y in Australia seems imminent. The Model Y should be able to tow up to 1,588kg on the 19” or 21” wheels and when the Cybetruck becomes available here, it may well become the ultimate towing vehicle with an unrivalled 6-tonne towing capability. In the meantime, the Model X is also capable of towing up to 2,300kg.

With so many towing capable EVs inevitably hitting the market, we need to ensure these cars can conveniently charge when towing. At the moment, the majority of EV chargers are mounted against a curb requiring most EVs to reverse up against the curb or some to drive-in forward. Neither method works if towing a trailer. There were technical and economic reasons why some sites were initially configured this way, but one can’t help think that many other sites were designed in this manner for no other reason other than because this is the way things have been done in the past. Five examples are pictured below.

12-stall South Lamar Boulevard Supercharger in Austin, Texas
12-stall Kemptthal Supercharger in Switzerland
6-stall Tesla Supercharger at Shanghai International Metropolis in Shanghai, China
6-stall Tesla Supercharger in Modi’in, Israel
6-stall Tesla Supercharger in Hartshead Moor, UK – Westbound

I can’t see the above configurations being any more cost effective than what I call a “drive-through” layout. A drive-through configuration as found in most petrol and gas stations doesn’t require the cars to reverse or forward park against a curb or wall but instead allows them to enter at one end and exit at the other while also allowing for EVs towing a trailer to plug-in.

Existing vs Tow Friendly Charger Configurations

As can be seen from the graphic above, in contrast to how the stalls are mostly configured now, there are numerous advantages to a ‘drive-through’ configuration. Apart from a more efficient design, a drive-through configuration makes for easier parking when towing while also giving non-towing cars a choice to either reverse-park as is the case now or forward park, particularly when two or more bays are free. If there is at least one towing vehicle being charged, the drive-through layout allows for more towing EVs as well as non-towing EVs to be charged simultaneously. As figure #2 shows, and as can be seen from the photos below, a car with even a small trailer needs to block-off four other charging bays in order to awkwardly manoeuvre into a position where an almost fully extended charging cable can reach the towing vehicle.

Tesla Model 3 towing a trailer awkwardly charging at Williams Woolshed Supercharger in Western Australia
Tesla Model 3 towing a trailer awkwardly charging at Eaton Fair Shopping Centre Supercharger in Western Australia
Eaton Fair Shopping Centre Tesla Supercharger with proposed location for future drive-through style chargers

As the photo above shows, had the Superchargers been installed at the location indicated by the red marking, the stalls could have been configured in a ‘drive-through’ formation. As the graphic illustrates, and as summarised in the table below, a drive-through configuration can accommodate the same number of non-towing EVs as the usual reverse park configuration shown in figures #1 and #2, however, while a reverse park configuration can only accommodate a maximum of one towing vehicle and two non-towing cars, a drive-through layout such as the one in figure #7, can accommodate up to four non-towing vehicles in addition to one towing vehicle.

Table comparing the simultaneous charging capacity of the three main charging stall configurations

While not as efficient as the drive-through design, a parallel park layout can still work for towing EVs. We were lucky to find one such charger in Nannup, Western Australia where we had a very convenient seamless charging experience.

Tesla Model 3 towing a trailer conveniently charging at the parallel park configured 50kW DC charger in Nannup, Western Australia

The reverse park, parallel park and the drive-through configurations constitute the three main layouts, however, these can be combined into numerous variations to suit a specific site, such as illustrated below.

Example of a charger stall configuration utilising a combination of layouts
Example of a charger stall configuration utilising a combination of parallel park and reverse park layouts at the Tesla Supercharger in Aiea, Hawaii

Naturally, one solution open to towing EVs is to unhitch the trailer, boat, caravan or horse float in a nearby parking space and to then drive the EV to the charger and plug-in as per normal. An ICE car towing a trailer doesn’t have to unhitch just to fill up with petrol or gas and an EV driver shouldn’t have to do so either, as there can be many disadvantages to this approach including the following:

  • It can be prohibitively inconvenient to unhitch a trailer,
  • it can be unnecessarily time-consuming to unhitch a trailer,
  • EVs that are towing will consume more energy resulting in a shorter range which means they’ll need to charge more often. This in itself can potentially be seen as a small inconvenience, so it doesn’t need to be further exacerbated with unnecessarily unhitching and hooking on the trailer at each charging station,
  • when a trailer is unhitched from a car and parked elsewhere it needs to be secured to prevent another car simply pulling up, attaching it to its tow bar and stealing the trailer, caravan, boat, or horse float,
  • it’s not uncommon for particularly older trailers to have no brakes requiring the wheels to be manually chocked on anything other than the most level surface which exacerbates the inconvenience of unnecessarily hitching up and unhitching a trailer,
  • the jockey wheel near the point of the A-frame of many trailers doesn’t reach low enough to attach to the towbar of some cars such as the Model 3 without an adapter, requiring a minimum of two people to hook-on or unhitch a trailer, 
  • it’s not uncommon for some trailers to have finicky electrical connections requiring extensive jiggling of the connection in order to get it to work properly, requiring at least two or three people to establish a stable working connection.

As outlined above, unhitching a trailer, boat, caravan or horse float just to charge, is unnecessarily time consuming and there are numerous impracticalities and inconveniences to this approach and as mentioned earlier, an ICE car towing a trailer doesn’t need to unhitch just to fill-up, therefore, neither should an EV.

A drive-through configuration such as that found in most petrol / gas stations is the logical solution having the following benefits:

  • It is designed to cater to electric vehicles towing a trailer, caravan, boat, horse float or anything else,
  • it is a more efficient design allowing more EVs to be charged simultaneously,
  • it is a more convenient design allowing particularly towing EVs but also non-towing EVs to get in and out of the charging bays faster and easier,
  • it doesn’t require unnecessarily fully extending the DC cable to reach the towing vehicle,
  • notwithstanding the fact that the Tesla Semi or other electric semitrailers will have their own dedicated charging networks and assuming they will have a plug that is backward compatible with CCS2 and perhaps also a Type2 (Mennekes) connection for trickle charging, a drive-through layout may be the only way these trucks will be able to charge at regular charging stations.

As noted earlier, due to economic constraints in augmenting the existing network infrastructure, and as not all sites are the same, naturally, every site won’t lend itself to a drive-through layout, however, in situations where it is possible to achieve a more logical, more efficient, user-friendly design at little or no additional cost, a better thought-out configuration such as the angled drive-through design should be considered.

Below are some examples of tow-friendly Tesla Supercharger configurations:

Tesla Supercharger in Hitra, Norway
12- stall Tesla Supercharger at Morongo Trail in Cabazon, California with dedicated charging stalls for towing EVs
16-stall Tesla Supercharger in Ystad, Sweden
10-stall Tesla Supercharger in Rudshøgda, Norway
20-stall Tesla Supercharger in Malung, Sweden
16-stall Tesla Supercharger in Fåvang, Norway

Most petrol and gas stations have a convenient drive-through design so why should EV owners have to reverse-park against a curb to plug-into an EV charger? From the perspective of an EV owner towing a trailer, the current reverse-park layout is a major oversight requiring immediate rectification.

This concludes part one of a two-part article. Part two can be found herehttps://www.tocwa.org.au/2022/04/20/major-parts-of-australia-in-desperate-need-of-reliable-fast-dc-chargers/

[This article was edited on 22nd of April 2022, to add the second (right) image of the Morongo Trail Cabazon Supercharger in California which better shows the dedicated charging stalls for towing EVs. Thank you to Steve @rexjamo for supplying this photo.]

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

Major Parts of Australia in Desperate Need of Reliable Fast DC Chargers

Having recently come back from a 1,000km round trip towing a trailer behind our Tesla Model 3, I’ve learned two things. Firstly, we need a denser network of reliable fast DC chargers in country Australia but importantly we also need to rethink EV charger design and configurations to allow EVs towing trailers, caravans and boats to also be able to charge. This is part two of a two-part article. I address the need for more efficiently designed EV charger configurators in part one.

With almost 70,000kms on the clock in a little over two and a half years, I drive almost twice as much as the Australian pre-Covid average of about 15,000km a year. As I can charge at home, if I exclude long road trips, I’ve never come anywhere to even close to running out of the Model 3 Performance real world city range of approximately 500km (the car is rated at 530km at the WLTP standard).   

That said, while our M3P, may have considerably more than sufficient range around town, once you add a persistent headwind, higher average speeds, bigger payload, fewer opportunities for regenerative braking, a rougher coarse road, rain, colder weather, HVAC use, not to mention a fully loaded trailer, the usually more than sufficient 450-500km range starts to take a considerable dive to closer to 250km or less. While in theory, the 250km is more than enough to still stay within the recommended no more than two-hour drive legs in between at least 15-minute rest breaks, in practice, things become a little more challenging when EV chargers are more than 250km apart or in our case, when the only DC charger along a 320km route ceases to work.

CCS2 port unavailable at Kojonup 50kW DC charger

While a large battery with increased range would obviously help on the occasional long road trips, at all other times, it would add unnecessary extra weight thereby reducing efficiency and handling while increasing the embodied energy, not to mention the price and hence the economic payback period of the car. A better solution is a denser network of reliable easy-to-use fast DC chargers particularly in country areas.

Unfortunately, the coverage of most EV charging networks in Australia is still very limited and the reliability of non-Tesla chargers is far from optimal.

With only a few hundred public DC chargers in Australia, primarily centred around the eastern states, there are vast uncovered areas in Australia compared to the full coverage in New Zealand Source: Plugshare
The USA map can only show some DC chargers. With over 65,000 public DC chargers in the USA, it is too resource intensive for the website to load all the DC chargers.
The map of Europe can only show some DC chargers. With over 25,000 public DC chargers in the EU, it is too resource intensive for the website to load all the DC chargers.

While Tesla can boast near-perfect Supercharger reliability and the largest EV charging network in the world, the fact is that we still have large gaps in many parts of country Australia, particularly in WA, NT, SA and northern and inner parts of QLD. As demand for Tesla Superchargers is only increasing around the globe, jurisdictions with lacklustre EV policies understandably rank lower on the priority list. Not only do we have no real national EV policy to speak of but with Australia becoming a dumping ground for dirty and inefficient cars, due to our lack of vehicle and fuel emission standards, it is no surprise that Australia is not a high priority.

Tesla Supercharger reliability, Source: Tesla Impact Report 2020
Map of Australian and NZ Tesla Superchargers Source: Plugshare

Australia no longer manufactures the Commodore, the Falcon or any other mass-market cars, so we have no choice but to buy what the world sells. Apart from a couple of exceptions, with virtually all manufacturers ceasing the production of fossil fuel vehicles either by 2025 or before the end of this decade, our DC charging networks will need to expand, fast.

(This was part one of a two-part article. Part two is available here: https://www.tocwa.org.au/2022/04/20/rethinking-the-design-of-ev-charger-configurations/

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

Portable Power Packs are Wasted on Recharging EVs.

A portable power pack (also referred to as a solar generator) is sold in a variety of storage capacities from 150Wh up to and beyond 2000Wh. At this stage they are generally very expensive in terms of dollars per Wh of storage, if you purchase a unit that fits your needs and plan to use it on a regular basis it’s a useful product, otherwise they’re a waste of money and battery resources.

A big gripe I have is many of the power packs on the market are advertised as being useful for recharging an EV, no doubt the larger units can charge an EV but making this part of a purchase decision is poor thinking. Why? A fully charged larger unit could potential add 8 to 10kms of range to a Model 3, handy in absolute desperation but with a Model 3 Standard having at least 330kms of range at 110kmh no one who adheres to the ABCs of EV ownership should be getting stranded. If you think you may be 8kms short of range, slow down by 5-10kmh, you may arrive 15 minutes later than planned but that’s better than sitting on the side of a road while trickle charging from a 27kg device that costs $2000 or more.

So how is a power pack useful- As I said if you’re going to use it on a regular basis away from home they can be very convenient, despite most cars having multiple 12v power outlets they’re never always close to hand, having the flexibility of multiple phone, iPad, Laptop and Camera/Drone battery charging outlets away from the car when a 240v outlet is too far away is fast and convenient, they’re also very handy keeping a portable freezer operating away from established power.

There are two main types of power packs, the larger ones have a built in inverter and one or two 240v outlets capable of running appliances such as TVs, power drills or kettles for short periods of time, the extra internals needed add to the purchase price and the overall weight. The smaller power packs rarely have a 240v capability so are generally less cost per Wh or storage. If you can get through a few days without a 240v outlet that makes your choice easier.

Testing a portable power pack

To run the test I purchased a Coleman 40Ah power pack as this was readily available at a wide variety of camping stores throughout Australia, it currently is the best value per Wh of storage and most importantly contains LifePo4 batteries. These are heavier but are more likely to survive the expected 2000+ cycles before storage capacity is down to 80% of original. The 40Ah power pack has 512Wh of capacity and could potentially power 8 devices at once.

Test one – See how long a 100% charged battery would last while cooling a 45-litre fridge/freezer down from 18C to -15C, this was done during the day in an outside but shaded area in temperatures between 23C and 30C. The pack supplied enough power to allow the freezer and the originally room temperature water containers to reach 0C within 95 minutes, this consumed 16% of the available battery. I stopped the test after 10 hours with the battery down to 5% and the internal freezer temperature -15C. The test was run entirely during daylight hours.

Test Two – See how long a 100% charged pack would maintain the fridge freezer at -4C. This test commenced at 8.05am and continued through two full days and one night, the maximum temperature during that time was 30.6C, the overnight minimum was 21.6C. I concluded the test after 35 hours with the battery level down to 4%.

Test Three – See how much charge my old fold out 100Watt solar panel can add to the power pack without shifting the panel to follow the direction of the Sun. Considering there was early morning tree shade and a small amount of cloud cover in the late afternoon the 80% added to the battery was very handy. The Coleman 40Ah power packs inbuilt MPPT was a significant advantage. A 120W solar panel or shifting the panel once during the day would have provided a 100% charge.

Test Four – Can the solar charging keep up with a Fridge/Freezer set at -4C? Yes, the F/F requires around 65% of the battery over 24 hours, the 100W solar panels replaced 80% during daylight hours.

To summarise: portable power packs can be a handy accessory if you purchase the correct size for the planned tasks and use it on a regular basis.

Rob.

Fuel prices are fuelling the switch to electric vehicles, but will an EV still be worth it if fuel prices drop?

With petrol and diesel prices at the pump rising to astronomic levels are you thinking of switching to an electric vehicle?

If so, you’re not alone. As can be seen from the Google Trends search data below, Australians are increasingly thinking about making the switch to EVs.

There is a long list of reasons to switch to an EV but if it’s the cost of owning and running a car that’s your main motivator, you’ll want to know how the figures compare to your current car and you’ll also be interested to know how this may change as petrol prices rise or fall.

The chart below illustrates the relationship between fuel prices and how much better off you are likely to be, owning what is by far Australia’s most popular EV, a Tesla Model 3 versus owning an average Australian internal combustion engine (ICE) car. The calculations are based on a short 3-year period of ownership but the longer you hold on to the Model 3 the better off you’ll be.

As the chart above shows, at a petrol price of $2.00 per litre, you’ll be at least $14,193 better off with the Model 3 after 3 years, but even if the petrol price was to halve to $1.00 a litre you would still be $9,198 in front. Incredibly, even if fuel was completely free, the Model 3 would still put you in front to the tune of $4,203 over 3 years. In fact, the petrol price would need to be at a negative 84 cents for you to be at break-even point. Yes, you read that correctly, the petrol station would need to pay you $84 for every 100 litres of fuel you pump into your car and owning the Model 3 for just three years would still put you a dollar in front.

In case you’re wondering what is the affect of the cut in the fuel excise tax announced in the federal budget on 29th of March, it would work out to $1,099 over a 3-year period but the Treasurer has announced it will only be put in place for 6 months, so it works out to about $183. Therefore, the difference is a benefit of $14,093 vs a benefit of $13,910 for the M3 over an ICE car, but that of course assumes that fuel prices don’t go up any further.

The table above provides some insight into the calculations which are based on Australian averages and if anything, are a little too kind towards the petrol car. For example, it assumes that the Tesla Model 3 is charged from the electricity grid 100% at average standard electricity tariffs. Once you purchase an EV, you’ll quickly realise there are various EV-friendly lower cost tariffs offered by electricity retailers. Furthermore, most EV owners charge their cars using a solar PV system which, can produce more than enough power to cover the electricity usage of an average Model 3 several times over. For example, assuming a typical residential system with a 6.6kW solar panel array and a 5kW inverter, one would expect it to produce anywhere from 23-24kWh a day in the least sunny parts of Australia such as in Melbourne or Hobart to around 26kWh in Sydney, 28kWh in Adelaide or Brisbane or about 29kWh a day in Australia’s sunniest cities like Perth or Darwin. A Model 3 driving the average amount driven by an Australian car will use between 6 and 6.5kWh a day. Therefore, a typical residential solar system in Perth will produce enough free energy to power four and a half Model 3s and even in Melbourne a typical solar PV system will power about 3.75 M3s leaving surplus energy for another EV and the rest of the home.

The great benefit of solar power is its predictable cost. With the cost of petrol and diesel being based on fluctuating prices determined by world oil markets, it’s anyone’s guess what the prices may be at the bowser in the next few weeks let alone in the next few years, making household or business budgeting a challenge. In contrast, once an appropriately designed solar PV system has paid for itself, usually in about two to five years, the price of its solar generated electricity is exactly zero as the power it generates comes from the sun which has cost the exact same amount of zero cents for the last 4.603 billion years and will likely cost the same for a further 5-7 billion years. (Some will argue that there is an opportunity cost in the form of foregone feed-in-tariffs, however, these have been declining over the years and they generally represent only about a quarter of a standard residential electricity tariff.)

While it’s hard to argue with the economics of owning Australia’s most popular electric vehicle, there are many other important aspects of car ownership. I would argue that when it comes to an EV such as the Model 3 or Model Y, there are only two factors that one could argue to be inferior to a petrol car. These are the upfront cost in the form of the sticker price and the time to refuel, however, as you will see these are largely irrelevant in the vast majority of situations for most Aussie car owners.

As I hope I have made evident in the first part of this article, it doesn’t make financial or any other sense to look at a car’s sticker price in isolation. One should take all the costs of car ownership into account and make decisions based on the difference in the total cost of ownership because if you don’t you could fall into the trap of buying a $50 printer only to later realise the print cartridges will cost you $100 each. With that said, the only time the sticker price becomes relevant is if one is unable to stretch the budget or the loan. While I would never advocate for anyone buying a car they can’t afford, there is a phenomenon called the “Tesla Stretch” where aspiring Tesla owners have stretched their budgets and / or borrowing capacity to afford their dream car. The Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia (TOCWA) conducted a recent poll on its Facebook page which which showed that almost 88% of the 139 respondents spent more on their Tesla than on their previous car with a staggering 69% paying $30,000 or more.

As with the sticker price, the time to refuel argument is only relevant in rare circumstances. With a highway range of approximately 350 – 400km the Tesla Model 3 RWD has the shortest range of any Tesla but even with this model the time to refuel will only be a factor on long road trips with legs of more than three and a half to four hours at a time. It should be noted that to avoid driver fatigue the recommendation is to have a 15-minute break at least every two hours. At all other times, an EV is actually much more convenient than a petrol or diesel vehicle because, similar to a smartphone, you recharge it when you’re at home which means that most of the time you hop in the Tesla you’ll have about 10 days of driving waiting and ready to go without the inconvenience of spending time searching for and driving to a reasonably priced service station, then standing there with your hand on the bowser inhaling the petrol fumes for five minutes, then lining up to pay and so on.  

Having focused on the two factors where one could argue than an EV is inferior to an ICE car, below is a list of some of the other factors where Australia’s most popular EV excels including:

Furthermore, unlike most cars which are the best they will ever be the day they are driven off the dealership lot, the Model 3 continually improves via mostly free over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

Does this mean that a Model 3 or a Tesla for that matter is the right EV or even the right car for everyone and for every situation? No, of course not, but it’s hard to deny that it presents a very compelling proposition and once Full Self-Driving (FSD) becomes a reality in the not-too-distant future, driving anything other than a Tesla may as Elon Musk explained feel like riding a horse. Furthermore, with there being no end in sight to the volatility in fuel prices Elon may have also have been right when he said that it would be “financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla”.

(This article was first published on 26th of March. It was edited on 29th of March with the only change made being the insertion of the paragraph above the saving table relating to the fuel excise cut.)

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

A Quarter of a Million Kilometres in Seven Years and the Tesla Model S is Still Going Stronger Than Ever

Having waited nine months for their Model S to arrive, it’s no wonder Rob and Robin refer to their Model S P85D as their “baby”. Back in 2015 Tesla deliveries in Western Australia were fairly rare, there was no delivery centre, no showroom, no service centre or local Tesla employee to hand over the cars. Each delivery experience was unique. In Rob and Robin’s case, Tesla sales requested they collect their Model S from a transport depot in Canning Vale a suburb in Perth, Western Australia. The car was clean, charged to 90% and the key fobs were handed over with little fuss. There was no one trying to sell window tinting or seat protection, less talk and more driving, the way it should be.

The car had plenty of features but only two they really cared about, firstly it was insanely fast, and second, they could charge it from their excess home solar power. In those days the Deans “couldn’t care less about supercharging, software updates, autopilot or the massive touchscreen on the dashboard.” They also weren’t bothered by the fact that in 2015 Tesla was a very small car company, living on the edge, with no service or support within 3,000kms of Perth, but to them it was worth the risk to support the only car maker taking EVs seriously.

The plan for the car was fairly simple, have some fun, take a regular weekend drive camping and attend a few car shows, maybe clock up 20,000 kms per year. The only long trip Rob & Robin had initially planned was in winter of 2016 when they were preparing to drive from Perth to Broome and back, but that trip turned out to be so enjoyable it became a catalyst for many more trips to all parts of Western Australia and eventually a visit to every state and territory including:

Home (Mandurah) -Exmouth-Broome return, 4,900kms June 2016 AC charging only

Home-Shark Bay return 1,800kms November 2016 AC only

Home-Albany-Esperance-Kalgoorlie-Perth return 2,000kms April 2017 AC only

Home-Adelaide return 5,600kms December 2017

Home-Tom Price- Newman-Marble Bar-Port Hedland-Onslow-Exmouth return 4700kms April 2018 AC only

Home-Kalgoorlie-Leinster-Yalgoo-Shark Bay return 3,100kms October 2018 AC only

Around Australia clockwise including Tasmania 19,620kms Sept-Oct 2019

Home- Exmouth- Yardie Creek-Kalbarri- return 2,800kms June 2021

Home-Eucla-Esperance return 3,000kms January 2022

More than a dozen other trips between 700 and 1,800kms at 140 overnight destinations.

Seven years and 250,000 kms later they still love the car as much as they did the first week they had it, so much so, they can’t wait to buy another Tesla. This time it will be the Model Y which they plan to use as their second car, because they say they’ll never sell the Model S P85D.

To hear more about Rob and Robin’s experience with their Model S click on the video below or try the following URL: https://youtu.be/7uvoFdJsmDM

I interview OG Tesla owners Robin and Rob Dean to get the first-hand account with their 7-year old Model S after they recently competed 250,000 kms in the P85D.

Q&A:

How has the battery held up?

In short, it’s not an issue, it’s all been as expected. After 250,000kms the car’s range is 420km in the city and 370km on the highway which is roughly 10% less than new, but as expected, the first 5% of battery degradation was much faster than the last 5% which is now barely noticeable.

What are your total out-of-pocket running costs? I just had the 4th set of tyres fitted, the average lifespan has been 81,000kms per set. I’ve kept with Michelin’s paying between $350 and $410 per tyre fitted. All up including two minor repairs it’s added up to $4660.

How much do you think you’ve saved on fuel?

Who cares? Well okay, put it this way, if the bloke up the road had the time to drive his less powerful and slower high performance V8 250,000kms over the past 7 years he would have consumed $39,000 worth of fuel at city prices. If I paid full grid price for the electricity consumed the cost would be $11,500, the fact is charging has cost us virtually nothing as most charging has been free from our home solar system. The car also comes with free lifetime supercharging and most of the AC charging we’ve done around Australia has been complimentary and the few dollars spent on DC charging is immaterial.

What about servicing?

It’s often incorrectly claimed that Teslas don’t need servicing; it all depends on how much the owner values their vehicle. As this car spends a large amount of time far away from a service centre, I’m happy to spend some cash making sure it’s in the best possible condition. $1,300 over 250,000kms is money well spent.

Any warranty repairs?

At 160,000kms Tesla replaced the rear drive unit due to the milling noise showing up in some early Model S vehicles, the car was in the care of Tesla service for just a few hours. The MCU was replaced at 220,000kms under a recall due to a potential eMMC failure, this took half a day at Tesla service.

What don’t you like about your Model S?

The paint appears soft and has suffered more than previous cars have from loose stones (chip seal) on country roads. Tesla also make unnecessary changes to the charging screen via software updates. At one stage, the Tesla charging screen was perfect, but not anymore. Some bored tinker-man in California adds complexity for no reason.

What has turned out to be surprisingly good beyond your expectations?

As I said earlier Supercharging didn’t interest me, and to be honest if it didn’t exist I’d still be just as supportive of EVs, but after experiencing the simplicity, reliability and convenience of Tesla Supercharging on both sides of Australia I can see how important the Supercharging network is to encouraging everyday Australians to change from petrol to electric transport.

Explaining the Nullarbor EV Chargers

As you may have seen in recent news retired engineer Jon Edwards has designed, built and installed a Biofil DC charger at Caiguna on the Western side of the 1200km drive between Ceduna and Norseman, this provides a handy boost for the adventurous EV owners crossing the Nullarbor when border openings allow. Before I continue let’s make one thing very clear, you’re under no obligation to drive across the Nullarbor, commercial air travel is faster, safer and probably cheaper, but as Ferris said “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it”.

Below I’ll discuss the charging available at the locations that are spaced evenly apart.

Before attempting to drive an EV across this part of Australia remember that Plugshare is the only app with the accuracy to plan charging stops, also don’t rely on apps to predict your energy consumption and arrival times, the road surface and wind direction plays a major part in how far you’ll get on a charge, play it safe and always plan to arrive with at least 30kms of range remaining. If you wisely plan your daytime and overnight charging stops the less time you’ll spend topping up the batteries.

Balladonia 22kw CCS2 DC charger

Departing Norseman and driving East the first well spaced charging stop is at the Balladonia Roadhouse, 190kms from Norseman, which has a 22kw CCS2 DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet. Compared to the latest 250-350kw DC chargers popping up close to Australia’s populated areas 22kw appears prehistoric, but in reality they’re a pretty handy short term solution that doubles the charging speed a model 3 can get from the existing 3 phase outlet and better still triple the charging speed available to a Hyundai Kona.

Caiguna, 181kms drive from Balladonia, has a 50kw DC charger powered by a Biofil generator, politely ask the counter staff to start the charger then go and enjoy the air conditioned Cafe.

Madura 22kw CCS2 DC charger

Madura, 157kms drive from Caiguna, has a 22kw DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet, payment is a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service tin located in the dining area.

Eucla, this location is 182kms east of Madura, charging is via a 32amp 3 phase outlet in the Laundry of the Eucla Motor Hotel. Be aware that this outlet is not available between 9.00am and 3.00pm, if you expect to arrive at this time maybe use the Border Village charge point, 12kms to the East.

Nullarbor Roadhouse 32amp 3 phase

Nullarbor Roadhouse, 197kms drive from Eucla, has a 32amp 3 phase at the rear of the building close to the motel units.

Penong Caravan Park, 223kms east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse, has a 32amp 3 phase (it has been prone to tripping at 28amps so plan accordingly). Penong is part of the South Australian grid so is likely to get a reasonable speed DC charger before too long.

Cocklebiddy, Mundrabilla and Border Village also have handy 32amp 3 phase outlets if you want to shorten the driving distances between charge sessions or wish to try different accommodation on the return journey.

Why You Should “Ruin” Your Weekend in an EV

Many of you may have heard about the cheeky Facebook group “I ruined the weekend“. For those that haven’t its a full of photos and reports on how Electric Vehicle owners have made use of their vehicles going on long outback trips, visiting a country Vineyard, towing a Boat, and generally going about business as usual whilst driving electric rather than petrol or diesel. The Facebook group was a clever idea by long time West Aussie EV owner Ant Day, who like myself and hundreds of owners across Australia are thoroughly sickened by the continual fear campaign aimed at EVs. Politicians Scott Morrison and Michaela Cash claiming that Electric Vehicles will ruin your weekend was an audacious slogan that needed countering.

So why should you “Ruin your weekend”?

On one side of the fence we have a small but vocal group of EV owners supporting the electric transition, on the other side are the naysayers who believe EVs are not the answer, in reality this second group are people who know the electric transition will be detrimental to their business. In the middle are the fence sitters, the vast majority of Australians that have an interest in Electric Vehicles but struggle to separate fact from opinion from all the mud being thrown around, these are the potential owners that need to be convinced. It’s far better to do this with facts rather than opinion.

The best way to achieve this is prove it can be done, get out for a weekender to the country, tow the boat down to the ramp, go camping at some secluded location, go for an interstate trip, but most importantly leave the petrol car at home. Taking your EV to a place it’s apparently not supposed to be is a great conversation starter, it gets fence sitters attention and the conversation around the BBQ gets changed in a positive way. It’s no longer opinion, it’s fact, pessimism has been replaced with optimism. This is something the naysayers will never have, they can never show it can’t be done but you can show it can.

A Charge of Teslas holidaying in Kalbarri, Western Australia

Why AC Charging is Still Vital

When most people refer to electric vehicle charging they discuss the DC variant, and without doubt DC only charging is useful in three EV charging scenarios.

  • DC charging of at least 100kw power output is critical on highways between Australian towns and cities, the vast majority of non EV owners firmly believe fast charging times that are closer to petrol refill times are essential if they’re going to purchase an EV, these future new owners will soon realise that a 15 minute stop every 250kms is nowhere near the issue they expected.
  • There’s a small percentage of car owners that live in multi story buildings with no electricity outlet near their allocated parking spot, when these residents purchase an EV they’ll rely on public charging, for many DC charging will be the preferred choice.
  • The third EV charging scenario is the Taxi industry, to make the day to day operation as smooth as possible they’ll need the easy access to reliable DC charging.

So why is AC charging still so vital?

Despite what the EV naysayers would like to portray, the vast majority of Australian car owners have the ability to charge an EV at home or work. It doesn’t need to be 3 phase power, 10, 15 or even 32amp single phase is more than sufficient to replace the average days driving.

Compared to DC charging an AC charging set up is extremely cheap and fast to install. Public DC chargers are currently very expensive to install, sometimes expensive to maintain and often attract a lot of red tape that drags the build time out for months on end. At the moment there’s a very low number of electric vehicles on the road compared to the rest of the vehicle fleet so having EVs charging at their local DC charger is handy advertising, as the transition to plug in electric drivetrains rapidly increase this may very well cause issues if the DC charging infrastructure in built up areas can’t keep up with demand.

Those EV drivers mentioned earlier in the scenarios above will heavily rely on local DC charging, so getting as many owners as possible with the ability to charge at home or work from AC charging is vital to making the nationwide EV transition as smooth as possible.

Model 3 USA build v China build

Energy efficiency and charging speed comparison

This test was scheduled to compare the different supercharging speeds between a USA and China built model 3 standard range, we also took the opportunity to test the energy efficiency of both cars. The energy efficiency test produced some unexpected results but nothing that would make one car far superior to the other over its whole life.

Conditions for the day were fine and dry, with the outside air temperature starting at 19C and creeping up to 26C over the next 4 hours, the roads had light to moderate traffic allowing for both cars to stay visible to each other, there was no tailgating each other or drafting larger vehicles.

We attempted to drive a combination of suburban and highway routes although a significant section of the journey was at 110kmh on a fairly coarse road surface that has a negative effect on range, I’ve driven the same Forest highway dozens of times in a model S in the past 6 years and it’s certainly chews up the energy as much as any West Australian road I can think of.

To make the test as tidy as possible both cars had the same cold tyre pressures (45psi) using the same brand and size tyres, both climate controls set to 22C throughout the full test when driving, 2 occupants each. Both cars preheated their batteries on approach to the supercharger. We had the good fortune to have the Eaton V2 Superchargers to ourselves avoiding shared cabinets.

The Supercharging Speed Test

Not really a groundbreaking surprise here but more of a reminder that the USA installed NCA batteries have a slightly different charging profile to the China installed LFP batteries, the good news is both cars had a reasonable good charging speed between 20% and 90% on a V2 Supercharger capped at 135kw, USA build taking 33 minutes, the China build taking 32 minutes.

Note: 97Kw figure at 40% was double checked and is correct.

The Efficiency Test

The Trip A south in temperatures between 19C and 22C was a total distance of 129kms  via a detour through Pinjarra, this produced a small surprise that we initially put down to a margin of error, the USA car had a trip average of 153Wh/km against the China car of 157Wh/km, I didn’t expect the China car to have any advantage on such a mild day, a cold day would have certainly given it a win.

The Trip B north was a more direct 103kms with temperatures between 23C and 26C, this did throw up an interesting result, the USA car averaged 145Wh/km, the China car 158Wh/km, that sort of gap wasn’t expected.

So why such difference? It wasn’t driver behaviour, we swapped passengers at the supercharger so I spent time with both drivers, there wasn’t any significant difference in accelerating or braking. As the cars had been matched as close as possible the only difference was the age of the tyres, although the China model 3 had 1200kms on its tyres it appears they need some more age and distance before the tyres produce their best efficiency.

Many thanks to Nigel and Alex for giving up their Saturday morning to conduct this test.

Rob.