A quiet future with electric cars

Plugged in: Jon Dee charging his BYD electric car, the only one of its kind in Australia. It can go up to 400 kilometres on a single charge.
Plugged in: Jon Dee charging his BYD electric car, the only one of its kind in Australia. It can go up to 400 kilometres on a single charge.

He can get from Katoomba to Sydney and return on one charge and in the quietest way possible.

Jon Dee, local environmentalist and Sky News TV presenter, is test driving the only Chinese electric car in Australia.

It’s a BYD E6, made by the same company that makes large-scale batteries for buses and cars.

And he’s very impressed.

“It’s cheaper than a Tesla, there’s no pollution and it’s silent,” he said. “It can also go up to 400 kilometres on a single charge.”

During the trip down the M4, the peace inside his own vehicle reminds him of how much noise pollution goes on around him.

“When you’re driving down the freeway you’re hearing everyone else’s noise… and you realise that emissions pollution isn’t the only issue – vehicle noise pollution is a big issue as well,” he said.

In comparison, when he’s driving around quieter Mountains streets with the windows open, “you can only hear the tyres on the road”.

Mr Dee is hoping electric cars are the way of the future. The signs are there: Volvo has announced that from 2019 it will only manufacture electric or hybrid cars and the French Ecology Minister last week announced a proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040.

Mr Dee believes technological improvements will make electric cars a viable proposition.

At the moment, there are not many fast charging points – in Sydney Mr Dee uses a fast charger at Sydney airport, which is utilised by the Carbridge electric buses that operate from there. 

Here in the Mountains, he can also charge up at the Fairmont Hotel at a 7kW public Chargepoint station.

But he mainly recharges at home in Katoomba, where his solar panels reduce the car’s costs enormously.

However, he cites the case of Norway, where recharging points are in almost every shopping centre and on many streets. As a result, nearly a third of the cars sold in Norway are now electric cars.

Another great advance with the BYD is that it has a bi-directional battery, with the energy able to go in and out – it essentially means he could use the car’s huge 80kW battery to power his house for days at a time. 

With the appropriate connections, he could use the car’s power to provide his house and home office energy needs. Then, when the late night off-peak cheaper power kicks in, he would charge the car battery.

“What’s been holding back electric cars is the cost of the batteries but that cost has been plummeting,” he said.

The BYD electric car is about to become available in Australia via Carbridge. It is used as a taxi in China,  Colombia, Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and the US.