Normally a comparison is a great opportunity for us to compare vehicles that sit within the same size or price category, with a CarAdvice-backed winner declared at the end.
Given the relative lack of competition within segments in the electric vehicle market, we wanted to do something a little different with a comparison of a cross-section of the passenger EV market – a group of cars from the cheapest to the most expensive.
We also wanted to tackle the issue of range anxiety, which is a common talking point amongst those skeptical of EVs and their place within society. The aim of our testing was to see how they fared against their manufacturers' range claims and how an equivalent internal combustion car would manage to meet its range claims.
Included in this test was the Hyundai Ioniq (full electric), Nissan Leaf (second generation), Renault Zoe, Jaguar I-Pace HSE and the Tesla Model S P100D. The BMW i3 or i3s couldn't be made available for this test.
We have also included an EV glossary at the bottom of the article with some of the most common terms associated with EVs.
So, with full batteries and a full tank of fuel, we hit the road for our first-ever EV mega test.
Pricing & specs
While EVs were once the domain of those with over $100,000 to spend (if you don't include the Leaf or iMiEV), most global manufacturers are now getting on board the EV or PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) train.
Our test kicks off with the Hyundai Ioniq EV. Pricing starts from $44,990 (plus on-road costs) for what can only be described as a very normal-looking car. It doesn't have the science project looks of EVs of a bygone era, and it aims to just blend in to traffic (well, minus that oddly coloured grille).
The Ioniq EV is available in two trim levels, Ioniq EV Elite and the Ioniq EV Premium (which adds $4000 to the price tag, along with a stack of standard features), while the wider range includes the Ioniq hybrid (starting from $33,990) and the Ioniq plug-in (from $40,990). Both the hybrid and plug-in versions of the Ioniq are available in Premium trim for an additional $5000 and $4500 respectively.
We have a full breakdown of the pricing and specifications for the Ioniq range here, but as you'd expect from Hyundai, the standard level of equipment is pretty impressive.
The Ioniq EV uses a 28kWh battery pack, which can be charged either by single-phase AC (up to 6.6kW) or fast DC charging (up to 50kW).
Using the fastest method, you can expect a 10–80 per cent battery charge of around 30 minutes at a rate of 270km/h. The NEDC energy consumption is 10.0Wh/km, which equates to an NEDC range of 280km.
The electric motor sits on the front axle producing 88kW of power and 295Nm of torque, and moving from 0–100km/h in 9.9 seconds.
Next EV off the rank is the Renault Zoe, which is priced from $47,490 (plus on-road costs) and is available in two trim levels, the Zoe Life and Zoe Intens. The Intens adds an extra $2000 to the asking price, along with extra features. You can check out our pricing and specifications breakdown here.
Core to the Zoe is its impressive 41kWh battery pack, which offers up 317km of driving range (WLTP) with an average energy consumption of 12.9Wh/km. Charging comes in the form of single- or three-phase AC charging (at a rate of up to 22kW) through a Type 2 plug, which means a 0–100 per cent charge rate of 110km/h or a charge time from empty to full of around two hours and 15 minutes.
This small Renault sends torque through the front wheels and produces 68kW of power and 225Nm of torque. It sprints from 0–100km/h in 13.2 seconds.
Powering along, next is the Nissan Leaf. The second-generation Leaf has been in Australia for a little while undergoing evaluation, but will soon be available to purchase publicly with a starting price of $49,990 (plus on-road costs) in one highly specified trim level. You can get the details on Nissan Leaf specification here.
Beneath its skin, the Leaf features a 40kWh battery pack that offers a 280km driving range with a WLTP energy consumption of 14.1Wh/km. Unlike the other EVs, the Leaf comes with two charge ports – a Type 2 plug and a CHAdeMO plug.
The Type 2 plug can charge on a single-phase at a rate of up to 6.6kW, while the CHAdeMO plug is capable of fast charging at up to 50kW. This results in a 10–80 per cent charge time of around 40 minutes.
Driving the front wheels, the Leaf produces 110kW of power and 320Nm of torque and moves from 0–100km/h in a brisk 7.9 seconds.
Leaping to the Jaguar, the Jaguar I-Pace HSE is the brand's first electric vehicle and aims to offer both range and handling as part of its proposition. The range kicks off from $119,000 for the I-Pace S (plus on-road costs) and the range tops out with the HSE First Edition tested here, which is priced from $159,700 (plus on-road costs). You can see the full Jaguar I-Pace pricing and specifications here.
It uses a 90kWh battery pack that offers a WLTP driving range of 470km and an energy consumption of 18.0Wh/km. It features both a Type 2 and CCS Combo Type 2 charging port that allows single-phase AC charging over Type 2 at up to 6.6kW, while the CCS port allows up to 100kW of DC charging. That means it can charge from 10–80 per cent over 100kW DC in around 40 minutes.
With a top speed of 200km/h, the Jaguar I-Pace uses two electric motors (one on the front axle and one on the rear) to produce 294kW of power and 696Nm of torque, and moving it from 0–100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
Finally, we have the tech-company-cum-vehicle-manufacturer, Tesla. The Tesla Model S P100D sits at the top of the Model S family tree, and while pricing for the Model S kicks off from $136,393 (plus on-road costs) for the Model S Standard Range, the Model S P100D (now called the Ludicrous Performance model) is priced from $165,529 (plus on-road costs). You can find the latest Tesla Model S pricing and specification details here.
It uses a 100kWh battery pack and offers an NEDC driving range of 613km and an energy consumption of 15.5Wh/km. Unlike the other manufacturers, the Model S uses a Type 2 plug for single- and three-phase charging, but combines its proprietary supercharger system within the same plug.
That means it's the only car here to offer single-, three-phase and DC fast charging. On single-phase AC it can charge at up to 7.4kW, whereas three-phase jumps up to 16.5kW and DC charging runs at up to 120kW.
This allows the Model S to charge from 10–80 per cent in 40 minutes. That will soon change with the recent announcement by Tesla of extra supercharger performance being rolled out across the global network.
The Model S Ludicrous Performance uses two electric motors (one on the front axle and one on the rear) to produce 451kW of power and 931Nm of torque with a quick 0–100km/h dash of just 2.6 seconds.
As a reference, our benchmark vehicle with an internal combustion engine is the Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander.
It uses a 2.2-litre diesel engine that produces 147kW of power and 440Nm of torque. It has an official driving range of 947km and an ADR combined fuel consumption of 7.5 litres of fuel per 100km. You can see the full Hyundai Santa Fe pricing and specifications breakdown here.
Pricing for the Santa Fe range starts from $43,000 (plus on-road costs), while the top-specification Highlander tested here costs $60,500 (plus on-road costs). The 71-litre fuel tank can be filled with diesel from 0–100 per cent in less than five minutes.
With range anxiety being one of the most regularly quoted concerns preventing people from EV ownership, we wanted to put the driving range of these vehicles to the test with a drive loop designed to include a mix of city, highway and twisty roads.
But, how accurate are 'normal' cars when it comes to range? It's not something we ever really take notice of beyond a passing glance every now and then, so we wanted to benchmark our electric vehicles against a 'normal' internal combustion vehicle to see how accurate it was when referencing driving range.
Each vehicle was filled to 100 per cent charge and fuel level, with fuel economy and trip meters reset at the CarAdvice office in North Sydney. Our benchmark ICE vehicle was our camera car, a turbocharged diesel Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander. Each vehicle had climate control set to 22 degrees with fan speed on automatic and air-conditioning on. Ambient temperature ranged from 27 degrees to 21 degrees over the course of our drive.
Our drive loop then set off from the CarAdvice office with an ultimate destination on the south coast of New South Wales near Wollongong. The loop included peak-hour city traffic, a brief highway run, and then a twisty loop through a national park and on to Wollongong. It's not the perfect drive loop, but at around 174km long, it was a good representation of a weekend drive.
There were four stops in total, and at each stop we logged average energy/fuel consumption, average speed and remaining range. We then compared the range left at the end of the drive to the range when the drive commenced, minus the actual distance driven.
And, the results were surprising.
We wanted a test route that would include a mixture of city driving, highway driving and some mountain roads. And as we mentioned at the outset, it's not a direct comparison between each car, but more a look at the cross-section of electric vehicles and how they drive.
To reduce an overload of content in this comparison, with each of these cars we'll link through to our full review of the car if you'd like to get more detail. Here, we will offer a brief take on how it drives and how the vehicle coped from a power-consumption point of view.
Full review: 2019 Hyundai Ioniq range review
When you step into the Ioniq you really get a feel for the extra attention to detail paid by Hyundai at making this feel like any other car. The interior is spacious and most of the switchgear and controls are common to Hyundai's other products.
It's all led by an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen central to the cabin that allows configuration of EV controls and includes the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology.
There's a generous boot and rear leg and head room are more than adequate, which makes this a viable alternative for drivers after a daily driver that's efficient and functional.
On the highway it's quiet, but more importantly it's pretty brisk when you hook into the throttle. A 0–100km/h time of 9.9 seconds gives you an impression of just how rapid it is at lower speeds.
It's quick when it needs to be and throttle response on the move is excellent. It's quiet in and around the city, along with on the highway. Unlike the other vehicles here, it's able to switch regeneration modes on the move using the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
It can move through three regeneration modes, from barely any right through to an aggressive mode that recoups energy and decelerates the vehicle as rapidly as possible.
The Ioniq benefits from Australian ride and handling that really make the car shine in and around the city, along with on urban and country roads where surfaces can get a little choppy. It won't set a land speed record through corners, but it's capable enough to have fun in if you come across a winding stretch of road.
Adjustable drive modes calibrate throttle response depending on the mode selected, and that's good news for drivers that want a little extra control over the way the vehicle is delivering torque to the front wheels.
On that topic, it can be a little too aggressive in Sport mode if you jump on the throttle out of a corner. It causes the inside wheel to arc up and spin briefly before being shut down by the vehicle's traction-control system.
Brake pedal feel is also good and rates as the best of all cars here. Transition from regeneration to mechanical braking is virtually imperceptible and steering feel is excellent.
Our testers all agreed that the only thing that let the Ioniq down was the bland design and the offset coloured grille.
In terms of efficiency, the Ioniq won our test for using the least amount of energy to travel the total test distance. Average consumption over 174.4km came in at a pretty remarkable 110Wh/km, which is a little over four per cent better than the combined average claim.
Range accuracy is also where the Ioniq shines. After 174.4km and a starting range figure of 218km, the vehicle was displaying 120km remaining.
Full review: 2019 Renault Zoe Intens review
While the Renault Zoe may not be the quickest EV here, it certainly has enough pace at city speeds to keep up with traffic. The 0–100km/h time of 13.2 seconds doesn't tell the full story. Its acceleration from 0–50km/h tells the true story at just 4.0 seconds. That is more than enough for city driving, and means the narrow tyres aren't overpowered under throttle.
The cabin is basic but features a 7.0-inch infotainment system that contains vital vehicle information. This is also where the Zoe offers the bulk of its EV driving information.
In and around the city, the Zoe rides nicely, but the big asking price is ultimately let down by a cheap-feeling interior that lags behind both the Ioniq and Leaf despite sitting around the same price.
Once you hit the highway or find some twisty roads, the Zoe doesn't like crosswinds or bumpy sections of road hit mid-corner. The Zoe lacks sure-footedness at times and doesn't give you the confidence you're after at speed.
Brake pedal feel is great as the car moves from regeneration mode through to activating its mechanical braking system. This is often the area most electric vehicles fall down when it comes to drivability.
Steering feel isn't amazing, but ultimately this car will be used mainly for city driving where the light steering is good enough for low-speed manoeuvres.
Our four other testers also chipped in their thoughts and found the external low-speed whirring sound built into the car to warn pedestrians of the oncoming car a little annoying (it's required by European law at speeds under 30km/h). The testers also found the suspension too soft for anything other than low-speed driving.
While it may not be outstanding on the road, the Zoe ticks the boxes on the efficiency front. It bettered its official consumption by almost 23 per cent at 128Wh/km.
The range we started with also adequately covered our drive, presenting with 216km range remaining after driving 174.4km and showing an initial range of 317km.
Full review: 2019 Nissan Leaf review
The Leaf is the best-selling electric vehicle in the world, so it's safe to say that Nissan has form in this field.
Nissan's new Leaf has ditched the rather space-age design of its predecessor in favour of a slightly more 'normal' look. It has grown in size too, now offering a generous amount of room inside the cabin (both front and rear), while technology has received a boost with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
While the infotainment system is a big step forward, it's still a pretty poor system that is desperately in need of a major overhaul. It can be slow and finicky at times, while the voice-recognition system struggles with basic command inputs.
The other confusing element is that half the controls are located on a digital cluster in front of the driver. This cluster controls the modification of vehicle settings and the vehicle's trip computer, as opposed to the centre screen that logs separate content.
Put those points to one side briefly and the Leaf excels in the luxury department. The specification we receive in Australia picks up a bunch of high-end features, such as seat heating in the front and rear, along with a steering wheel heater.
The Leaf can also be used to power your home, which is a great idea and very handy feature.
Nissan's Leaf is also unique in this segment by not only offering a two-stage regeneration system when you roll out of the throttle, but it also uses a function called the 'e-pedal'. This feature allows the car to enter a maximum regeneration mode, but then also automatically applies the mechanical brake system to bring the car to a complete stop.
You could theoretically drive the car entirely without touching the brake pedal. A great feature that only takes a little bit of time to get used to.
The Leaf's suspension tune errs on the side of comfort with a soft ride that soaks up all the bumps with ease. It also manages to behave itself nicely at highway speeds where it's not affected greatly by crosswinds or sudden direction changes.
It's surprisingly quick too, moving from 0–100km/h in just 7.9 seconds. The throttle pedal features a kickdown switch at the end of its travel that unleashes the full complement of torque. It's enough to spin the wheels if you hit the throttle hard enough on the move.
The Leaf isn't as nimble as the Ioniq through corners, but it makes up for that with the quietest ride here. It's virtually dead silent on the move and barely transmits any sound into the cabin on coarse-chip roads.
Brake pedal feel is excellent, but the steering is fairly vague. That's not an issue if you're going to be spending most of your time getting around the suburbs or the inner city. There's also a host of parking sensors and a 360-degree camera to make parking easier.
Our testers weren't as impressed with the Leaf. They thought the interior was a bit underdone and that the seating position wasn't quite right. Having since (following this comparison) spent a week behind the wheel of the Leaf, I found it easy to get used to – despite the lack of reach adjustment.
On the economy front, the Leaf is leaps and bounds ahead of its official energy consumption claim, consuming an average 136Wh/km over our journey, which is around 34 per cent better than the official consumption figure.
The range variation was also remarkable showing a start figure of 277km. After the 174.4km trip, it showed a remaining range figure of 152km.
Full review: Jaguar I-Pace review
There's a big step up from the Nissan Leaf to the Jaguar I-Pace, but there's also a big step up in terms of performance, handling and range. With a 90kWh battery pack on board, the I-Pace aims to deliver a more luxury motoring experience with the ability to accelerate quickly and handle a set of corners.
Inside the cabin it looks and feels upmarket. If you were to replace the electric motors with an internal combustion engine, the look and feel would still be the same.
The exterior looks to crazy angles and shapes to bring about an image of green motoring. While it's not the most aerodynamically efficient vehicle here with a coefficient of drag of .29 (compared to .235 for the Zoe (in concept form), .24 for the Ioniq, .28 for the Leaf and .24 for the Model S), Jaguar employs clever techniques such as a flat rear to improve the way it cuts through the air, and a roof-mounted spoiler that directs air down the rear window to the spoiler, which eliminates the need for a rear wiper.
While Jaguar's interior looks pretty amazing, it's slightly let down by a buggy infotainment system that can occasionally lag when the car is first started, and doesn't provide efficient transitions between screens like the rest of these systems do.
It's backed up by a great voice-recognition system, though, and offers remote connectivity via a phone application. The only catch here is that the vehicle has its own internal SIM card for communications with the application and Jaguar HQ, but an additional user-supplied SIM card is required for traffic management and user personalisation. It seems like a somewhat redundant step.
Leg and head room in both the first and second rows are great, with the hatchback boot providing plenty of storage and further underfloor storage for the Type 2 accessory cable.
Where the I-Pace really shines is on the performance front. It moves from 0–100km/h in 4.8 seconds and is capable of a top speed of 200km/h. It ultimately excels when it's thrown into a corner.
The dual-motor set-up allows the car to stick to the road like you wouldn't believe, utilising accurate and fast electronic torque vectoring to deliver torque on demand at each wheel.
Steering feel is also on point with stacks of feel through the wheel as you round bends. Despite its weight – around 2200kg – the I-Pace feels sure-footed and is easy to place. The low centre of gravity also ensures that it has ultimate roadholding deep into a corner.
The ride is also exceptional when optioned with air suspension. The ride on coil springs is on the firmer side of comfortable, matching the I-Pace's sporty persona, but the air suspension set-up with adaptive dampers rounds out the ride and suits it to both city and country driving conditions.
Unlike the Tesla Model S, throttle response stays on point even if you keep assaulting the go pedal and demanding torque from the drivetrain. Jaguar has engineered a rugged system that's capable of handling constant abuse without limiting torque delivery, regardless of how often you chase that torque rush.
One of the key things that lets the I-Pace down slightly is brake pedal feel as the car transitions from regenerative braking to mechanical braking. The transition can be a little sloppy and rigid, but it's only noticeable at very low speeds.
In terms of autonomy, the I-Pace can be optioned with a self-steering feature. It aims to use its sensors and cameras to direct the car along the freeway with no driver intervention. For the most part it works very well, but when it finds a lack of information to continue driving within its lane (could be broken lines or rain for example), it just switches off without any warning. While you're meant to be in control of the car the entire time, it can be a little surprising and unnerving.
Our testers all enjoyed driving the I-Pace and agreed that the ride really shines with air suspension. They had few complaints aside from a slight tapping sound developing over our drive near one of the suspension components. It's a noise that's exacerbated due to the lack of 'engine' noise inside the cabin while driving.
Being a bigger and heavier car, the I-Pace managed to just squeeze in under its energy consumption claim with an average power use of 203Wh/km, compared to the official 230Wh/km, bettering it by almost 12 per cent.
The range was also on point with a starting range showing 440km and then showing 300km after our 174.4km drive.
Full review: Tesla Model S P100D review
The Tesla Model S is the car that really kicked things off for the Tesla brand. It billed the brand as a luxury-focussed EV-only company that brings tech to an industry that was sometimes seriously lacking it.
But, the Model S has been on sale now for seven years with only a minor facelift since its launch. It's starting to date, but we wanted to see how it would perform amongst a batch of the latest electric vehicles.
Unlike the other vehicles in this test, as the Model S dates it gains more features. Since its launch, Tesla has rolled out various power increases, new features and new software across the range.
The interior remains a pretty nice place to be seated, but the old Mercedes-Benz switchgear doesn't go unnoticed, likewise the tinny-sounding doors and occasional build-quality issues – such as the seal around the doors constantly coming off, or the water leaking in through the window surrounds.
Central to the cabin is a giant 17.0-inch screen that is quick and easy to use. It features internet connectivity that pairs with Google Maps, and it can also integrate charging locations into your journey if required. The latest update includes games built into the screen to keep you busy while you're waiting for a charge.
Leg and head room in the first row are great, but while leg and head room in the second row are good, there's very little toe room beneath the seat in front, which makes it pretty uncomfortable to sit for longer journeys. Tesla makes up for it with masses of cargo room under the bonnet and under the cargo floor in the rear.
Driving the Model S is all part of the experience. Featuring three drive modes – Chill, Sport and Ludicrous – the Model S manages to offer three very different levels of excitement. While Chill is good for getting around the city and taking it easy, Ludicrous takes it to the next level with performance that will peel the eyes out of your head each time you hit the throttle.
Running on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, there is an incredible amount of traction due to the inbuilt torque-vectoring systems and the grip on offer from the tyres. The only letdown here is the tyre noise that comes into the cabin when driving on coarse surfaces. They are noisy tyres to start with, let alone when the car makes no other noticeable noise as you drive.
Riding on height-adjustable air suspension, the ride itself is pretty good, but is on the firmer side of comfortable. Again, this is partly due to the optional 21-inch alloy wheels that add a slight punch to each bump you encounter as you drive over rough surfaces.
When you look at how heavy the Model S P100D is – around 2200kg – it's surprising that it sticks to the road so well. It also pulls up nicely thanks to the big stoppers at the front. Body roll is kept to a minimum as you push it through corners, and it's all followed by an immense amount of torque as you lean on the throttle out of them.
Steering feel isn't amazing, but the rack is quick enough to change direction whenever required with little fuss. The best part is the relaxing regeneration mode (you can switch between two levels of regeneration) that works a charm mid-corner as you ease out of the throttle. It's a really fun car to drive.
Built into this package is AutoPilot that allows the vehicle to be driven on its own (with driver attention still required). It's easily one of the best semi-autonomous driving functions we've come across, and it shows the future we're heading towards in terms of vehicle autonomy.
Our testers were split down the middle with the Model S. Some loved it for its modern technology and drivability, while others weren't as impressed with all the whiz-bang technology and felt that it was a little 'heavy' on the road, despite it weighing in around the same as the I-Pace.
How about efficiency? Tesla has been playing this game for some time, so it's positive to see the Model S hit its official consumption claim almost perfectly, consuming 201Wh/km on average compared to the official claim of 200Wh/km.
Range at the outset of our trip was showing 446km, and after 174.4km of driving there was 354km remaining.
Full review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander review
The Santa Fe Highlander is one of the go-to SUVs for families after a seven-seat luxury SUV on a budget.
We've included it in this test solely for the purpose of seeing how close it gets to its advertised range and fuel consumption. Given how critical some are about range anxiety in an EV, we wanted to see whether a vehicle with an internal combustion engine helps ease the mind.
After travelling the same test route as our EVs, we came up with some interesting numbers. The combined average fuel consumption figure of 9.3 litres of fuel per 100km was around 24 per cent off the official figure of 7.5L/100km.
The range, on the other hand, looked a little better with a starting figure of 707km, and completing the 174.4km trip with a range displaying 649km.
After logging all the results, we sat down to have a look at what the numbers mean. It's worth considering first up that with an electric vehicle, remaining range is calculated through a number of factors.
Before setting off, an EV will look at ambient temperature because this data will dictate how much cooling is required for the battery systems. Requested cabin temperature will also be taken into account, and from there the vehicle will monitor the types of roads being driven on to calculate the speed at which the battery will decline.
A vehicle with an ICE will look at things a little differently. Future range will take into account a set amount of previous driving history to determine an estimate on remaining travel. Drive hard for 10 minutes and the range will drop because the vehicle assumes you will keep driving like this.
Drive gently for 10 minutes and the range will increase. An EV shares this philosophy, but given the power-zapping energy required to run cooling systems for the cabin and propulsion systems, the calculation needs to be a lot more accurate and a lot more reassuring.
So with that in mind, we had a look at the numbers to see how accurate our EVs were in comparison to a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.
Official range v actual
You can see in the graph below that at 100 per cent charge or fuel level, most of our cars were at or around their claimed full range. The exceptions to that were the Tesla Model S and the Hyundai Santa Fe. The Model S, Zoe and Ioniq factory claims seem highly ambitious given our vehicles were sitting at 100 per cent charge when we set off, and likewise the Santa Fe was almost 20 per cent off its factory full-range claim when full.
The closest vehicle to its manufacturer claim at 100 per cent charge was the Jaguar I-Pace, which was very closely followed by the Nissan Leaf.
Official consumption v actual
These are the numbers that really surprised us. We compared average energy/fuel consumption at each of our intervals against official figures. Each car managed to meet its average energy claim (the Tesla was .5 per cent out) with the exception of the Santa Fe. Our ICE vehicle was out by a considerable 24 per cent.
Our best performer was the Nissan Leaf, which beat its official energy-use claim by a whopping 33.98 per cent.
Ultimately, what these figures show is the EVs benefited greatly from regeneration opportunities during our drive. There was ample opportunity for them to regenerate energy and pump that surplus back into the batteries.
Our tests have shown that real-life range in modern electric vehicles is better than it has ever been. WLTP testing virtually eliminates any ambiguity about driving range and the distance you can realistically expect to cover from the car.
Variables such as extreme weather (either extreme heat or extreme cold) invariably affect range and will ultimately cause the greatest headache for EV buyers.
There's no real single winner here. While each of these cars has its own positives and negatives, they collectively show a greater spectrum of vehicles to choose from in a much wider band of affordability.
Granted a $44,000 starting price is still well and truly out of reach for a number of Australians, it's a good start and will kickstart early adoption of electric vehicles.
Those with more cash to splash will love the normality on offer from cars like the I-Pace and Model S, in the sense that they don't feel any different to an ICE car inside.
The biggest hurdle we now face in Australia is continuous adoption of green energy and a greater focus on public charging infrastructure rollout throughout the country. As it stands, most of Australia's collective energy generation comes from black and brown coal, which when used to create electricity for an electric vehicle creates a logic hole in the whole EV equation.
Who's going to pay for public infrastructure and what steps are the government taking to generate energy from clean sources? Those questions all need answers.
Below you will find an EV glossary that covers the basic EV terms associated with an electric vehicle. If there's anything we've missed, or if you have any thoughts on electric vehicles, let us know in the comments below.
The EV glossary
W: A Watt is a measurement of power equivalent to one joule per second, corresponding to the rate of consumption of energy in an electric circuit. A kilowatt (kW) is 1000 Watts.
kWh: A kilowatt hour is a unit of energy consumption (in Watts) per hour. So 1kWh is equivalent to consuming 1000 Watts for one hour. It's the method used to describe capacity of electric car battery systems, i.e. if you were to draw 1000W of power from a Tesla Model S for an hour you would consume around 1kWh of battery capacity. Do that for 100 hours and you would deplete the battery.
Wh/km: When we look at energy consumption in EVs, we use the electric equivalent of litres of fuel used per kilometre of distance travelled. So Wh/km refers to the energy consumed on average to travel a kilometre. It can also be represented as kWh/km (1000Wh/km) or sometimes it can be represented as km/Wh or km/kWh.
AC charging: AC stands for alternating current. Without going into too much detail, AC is the type of electricity available within a domestic application. Most EVs offer an AC charger on board, which means you can use compact chargers to deliver AC directly to the car, and the car then has an onboard converter that changes it to DC (direct current) to charge the vehicle.
Single/three-phase AC charging: Again, without going into too much detail, a home can be supplied with single- or three-phase power. Generally speaking, three-phase power allows for a greater amount of current to be delivered to the vehicle, which reduces charging times. It's normally more expensive to install three-phase charging in a regular home or business.
DC charging: DC charging uses a large device external to the car that converts electricity from AC to DC and then allows a direct DC feed into the car. This method allows much higher current charging, and it's DC systems that are used for fast charging applications (like the new 350kW chargers compatible with the Audi e-tron and Porsche Taycan).
Power plug types: Like any new technology, a power struggle in the early stages meant there are a stack of different plug types available. Without delving too deeply into the how and why, the standard that seems to be winning at the moment is the Type 2 (also known as IEC 62196 or Mennekes). The single Type 2 plug can be used for AC charging (single- and three-phase) up to around 22kW.
The CCS (Combined Charging System) plug is commonly used on vehicles with AC and DC charging ability and integrates an AC plug at the top, while the lower portion is used for DC charging. It's a simple and elegant method to block the AC charging port while the DC port is in use.
Regenerative braking: This is common to all electric vehicles. It allows the vehicle to use its kinetic energy to regenerate energy for the battery systems while decelerating. This energy would otherwise be wasted or emitted as heat due to friction as brake pads rub against rotors.
Charging: Manufacturers will often quote charge rates from 0–80 per cent, because from around 80 per cent onwards charge rates reduce exponentially until the battery system is full. You could liken this to filling a bucket with water – as you near the top, you slow the fill rate to prevent the water from spilling over the edge.
WLTP/NEDC: Just to add to the layer of confusion around measurement of range, a new test method has been adopted for the measurement of electric vehicle range. WLTP (World harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure) uses a far more stringent and realistic test method to verify range on offer from an ICE and EVs. NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) is the old method last updated in 1997 that was used to test the efficiency of ICE vehicles and EVs. In this comparison where a WLTP figure isn't available, we have used the NEDC figure (or in the case of the Tesla, the less common USA-only EPA figure).