Range? Charging? Spare tyres? What prospective EV drivers want to know about electric vehicles

Local EV expo shows that talking to EV drivers and driving an electric car are the best way to learn about them.

The Moruya EV Expo – held on October 28 – was organised by the South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) in the NSW coastal Shire of Eurobodalla, southeast of Canberra. It drew well over 2,000 attendees, not bad for a Moruya population of 4,500!

SHASA is an incorporated registered charitable community organisation run by volunteers to benefit the Eurobodalla community, one focus being to create a more resilient sustainable community with a low carbon economy, part of which involves promoting the use of electric vehicles by educating our community about them.

It is the third EV Expo that SHASA has organised. The focus is predominantly on EVs but there were also exhibits and videos of e-bikes, e-mopeds, electric tools, solar energy, house electrification, EV charging and home battery upgrades to round out the information available, all in line with our slogan of Electrify Everything.

Private local owners of EVs presenting their vehicles for inspection and themselves for questioning are the most important part of and make SHASA’s EV Expos.

We had 18 private local EV owners with 16 vehicles covering 12 different models and with the three EV dealers present there were 17 different models of electric cars present, including the most recently released BYD Dolphin.

There was an A1 size corflute information poster on a stand in front of most privately owned cars giving details, price and the owner’s comments.

We find attendees don’t take handouts nowadays, but they read and take photos of the corflute posters instead, and owners commented on this and how they prompted attendees’ questions. A listing of EVs by price garnered a lot of interest.

Nearly 20 people test drove either a BYD Atto 3 or a Nissan Leaf in the town and on the highway to experience first hand the power and fun of driving electric.

To illustrate how important private owners are to the education role of our EV Expo, here is a report by one of our attendees who was also a volunteer:

“As a prospective future EV owner I have been reading and researching all the various models, prices, range and the viability of obtaining a charging station at points I would need while travelling long distances.

“Despite all my research I still wasn’t sure that an EV would be viable for us anytime soon. I could have gone to a dealer and asked some questions, but my hunch would be they are mainly in the selling something to me and I might not get the brutally honest and insightful answers I really need.”

And that’s where the SHASA Moruya EV Expo fills a gap like nothing else. I wandered around and had a look at a range of different brands and models all in the one place, then chose to talk to the owners of ones that caught my eye.

I could not imagine anything more helpful than talking to somebody who owned an EV, had driven it for some time, and encountered the problems I would anticipate and figured out ways to deal with those issues.

It was fantastic. I learned first hand how to research recharge stations, the different types of EV charging, the viability of home charging, the cost, benefits and shortcomings of owning an EV vehicle, and the first hand experience of several people who have been proud owners of an EV for some time.

I must admit I was won over. I was able to ask all my naive and tricky questions to EV owners who were most likely to give me completely honest answers from their first hand experience.

The EV expo fills a really important gap between the polished information of motoring writers and the sales pitch of EV salespeople. Where else could I possibly find such gold nuggets of essential information to help me navigate the decision to lurch into a completely different and (to me) unknown form of family transport.

Typical common questions asked of most local EV owners were:

Range? Not what was advertised, but for highway driving. Effects of terrain and air conditioning on range. Driving and charging experiences to and from Canberra and Sydney.

Charging—how often? What did it cost? How long does it take to charge?

Typical further questions asked of/comments made to the owner of a 2023 BYD Atto 3 Extended Range model were:

How long had we had it, were we happy with it?

How many solar panels were needed for charging at home? How long did it take?

Spare tyre—interest in buying a spare, fitting it into the boot. This car has a full size third party spare wheel added which elicited much interest.

Boot capacity—good that the back seats fold down, but otherwise it was just average. Price—thought to be good value for money.

Typical further questions asked of the owners of a 2023 Hyundai Ionic 5 Dynamic model were:

How did we obtain the car, did we have to wait long and how much did it cost?

How comfortable is the car?

Is it easy to get in & out of?

How easy or otherwise is it to drive?

What is the boot size, and is it big enough?

Does it have a spare tyre?

Given the instrumentation is a graphic display, how easy is it to use? (Some attendees sat in the car with it powered up to see that.)

How easy is the head up display to use and is it distracting?

Does it have connection to the internet?

How do you go about planning a trip? This then led into: how do you use PlugShare? (A few were aware of that app but didn’t know much or anything about it.)

According to one particular attendee the most important question influencing the purchasing decision of most Eurobodallian citizens was ensuring your dog fits in the electric vehicle! That person had brought their dog to test!

Finally, the most important requirement for running such a local event—sponsorship!

You need money to pay for the advertising and promotional material, for the A1 corflute posters and stands for the EVs and other information, for the cut lunch and refreshments for the EV owners, stall holders and volunteers, for paying your contracted Expo coordinator, for a small reward to your EV owners, and so on.

So you need to be on good terms with your local business owners, clubs and council because that’s where your money and permissions to place signs and use grounds for the Expo comes from. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors!

Peter Haughton
December 4, 2023
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