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EV’s: choice and affordability? A local dealer shows how


In the second of his series on electric vehicles, Graham Franklin-Browne gives the Bulletin readership an exciting glimpse of what possibilities on the pre-owned market. Read on.

HAVE YOU EVER wondered how you might get your backside into the driver’s seat of a reasonably priced electric vehicle?

Around the world the EV revolution is rapidly gathering pace. Nearly every major manufacturer is releasing at least one new EV model this year and rapid advances in battery technology, and faster rollout of charging infrastructure around the world is helping to make the switch to clean transport an easier choice for motorists.

Even in Australia, despite a policy-challenged federal government, and a wardrobe full of fossil fuel lobbyists, some of our motoring journalists are beginning to articulate the signals needed to get our EV market moving in the right direction. It is frustratingly slow, but there are signs of change.

This year for example, in addition to the relentless march of Tesla Model 3’s, we will see the arrival of an additional eleven new EV models, including the excellent Chinese BYD EA1, which is new to Australia and may come close to being our first sub $35,000 EV.

All of this is great if you can afford it, but how do you get into a quality electric vehicle without having to sell your grandmother to a science lab?

Although it is obvious to most EV owners that the whole of life cost of an EV is far cheaper than a fossil banger, the sticker price can still be a slap in the face for most of us. So, what do you do?

Fyshwick dealership move into pre-owned vehicles

Well, Rob Ogilvie of Ion-DNA in Fyshwick may have the answer.

Rob opened his electric vehicle dealership in Fyshwick ACT in 2018, ahead of what is expected to be a significant rise in interest for plug-in battery powered transport across the ACT region and beyond.

Ion-DNA provides purchasers with real choice and affordability through a comprehensive and unique range of pre-owned zero emission vehicles.

Rob compares the purchasing experience at Ion-DNA to ‘buying off a plan’ with Ion-DNA sourcing and acquiring the vehicle at auction houses according to the requirements of the purchaser.

Rob prides himself on bringing a relaxed, hassle free, no pressure approach to the purchasing experience and will consult the buyer extensively to get an idea of their requirements and budget. For example, do they want an electric vehicle for performance; for commuting only; or for long-distance travel; or even for commercial reasons such as local delivery?

The most common questions asked by newbie purchasers include:

  1. Range and suitability
  2. How will it fit with my lifestyle?
  3. Affordability?
  4. How far will the vehicle travel on a full battery?
  5. How long does the battery last?
  6. Where are the local chargers?
  7. What warranties are available?
  8. How long do I have to wait, and can it be delivered?

Ion-DNA then looks at reputable online auction listings in Japan and the UK and locates a right-hand drive electric vehicle based on customer requirements. Rob has people on-site who will thoroughly investigate the condition of the vehicle and most importantly check the State of Health (SOH) of the battery before a bid is made.

The conversion to English of the infotainment system and any warranty and recall repairs are arranged in the country of purchase before the vehicle is shipped. The vehicle is landed at Port Kembla, checked over and transported to Sydney for final compliance.

So, what vehicles does Rob have on offer? Let us start with the Nissans.

The Nissan Leaf AZEO

The Nissan LEAF AZE0 is still arguably the most well-known EV, being the first mass produced zero emissions vehicle on the market. Affectionately known as the 1st Gen LEAF the AZEO has a 24-kWh battery powering a front wheel drive electric motor. The motor produces 80 kW or 107 horsepower which gets it to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds with a top speed of 150 kmh. While range is modest compared to newer generation electric vehicles, it is still plenty for daily commuting around Canberra and the Queanbeyan-Palerang region.

The Nissan Leaf ZE 1

The ZE1 is capable, practical and efficient, and with 320Nm of torque it will easily do 0–100km in 7.9 seconds. The vehicle has an impressive list of advanced driver-assist technology including e-pedal, Pro-PILOT and programmable regenerative braking.

It has a range of 270 km which would easily get you up the Hume to Sydney with one charging stop, and maybe a quiet coffee, and a quick muffin.

The Nissan e+

The Nissan e+ offers substantially more range than the ZE1, and with a 62kWh battery it will get you up to 385 kilometres on a charge.

It could even ferry Mr Morrison and a boot load of brown coal down to the South Coast without spoiling his weekend.

The Nissan e+ also has vehicle to grid and vehicle to house capability and with the correct inverter it will power your house for a couple of days during a prolonged blackout.

The Nissan e-NV200

The Nissan e-NV200 has a range of 135 kms and a top speed of 144 kph. With a rather brisk acceleration (for a van at least) of 0–100 kph in 11.5 seconds and a commercial-sized cargo space it makes a nippy and useful urban delivery van. Incidentally, Nissan has recently released a luxury camper conversion kit for this vehicle.

The VW ID 3 Pro

With a range of just over 400 kms, the ID 3 Pro is a serious contender for longer distances. It produces 143 bhp and will charge to 80% in around 35 minutes. 

It is significant that Volkswagen is one of the few manufacturers which has committed to replacing its entire product range with battery electric vehicles over the next ten years. The ID 3 is a great looking vehicle and most definitely a step in the right direction. Rob is currently sourcing a supply of these vehicles from the UK.

The Honda e

The Honda e is a cute and cheerful little city car. It has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution which makes it nippy and easy to park. Battery capacity is 35.5kw and with a respectable range of 220 kilometres it is great for getting you to work and the kids to school.

It also has range enough to get you down to the South Coast or around the wineries in our region. A trip to Sydney via the Hume for example is very do-able via existing charging networks at Goulburn, Mittagong, and Picton.

Barriers to EV uptake in Australia: lack of will

If governments and media were serious
about a safe and clean motoring environment,
change could happen within six months.

After reviewing the various EVs that were on offer at Ion-DNA I asked Rob about the major barriers to a faster uptake of zero emission vehicles in Australia.

Apart from misconceptions about how far most Australians drive in their daily commute (not as far as you would think as it turns out), Rob cited anti-competitive behaviour on the part of state and federal regulators, slow rollout of charging infrastructure, and extremely low standards of press coverage, especially within the Murdoch “media swamp”.

“If the government were serious about providing a safe and clean motoring environment, change could easily happen within six months,” he said, “the demand is there, we just need to convince our government to actively play its part or step out of the way and let the market respond.”

I asked Rob what EV drivers and those businesses associated with electric vehicles could do better to spread the word.

Rob suggested that EVs require more aggressive marketing­­ — effective marketing of EVs by Australian motor vehicle dealership organisations for example, has been practically non-existent.

What about an electric ute?

“I do believe that the arrival of a serious electric ute will be a game changer in the Australian market,” he said. “They are out there, and they are coming; the Cybertruck, the Rivian, the Bollinger, and large electric pickups from established automakers like Ford and GM.”

“When electric utes get here, at a competitive price, tradies and ute lovers around the country will be able to see how well they drive and tow, and how cheap they are to run. Then we will see the pace of change really accelerate,” he said.

So, if you are in the market for a reasonably priced electric vehicle, get in touch with Rob at:

…and maybe, just maybe, despite an egregious lack of policy, and an ongoing and vicious anti-EV narrative from the fossil fuel lobby, the EV market may finally be able to start kicking fossil bangers off our streets and letting all Australians give zero emissions a go.

After all, as Saint Scomo the Sanctimonious loves to say, “If yer give a go, yer’ll get a go”.

IMAGERY: Author Supplied.

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