While uptake of electric vehicles has been slower than some would like in Australia, attention is slowly turning towards them. With a stronger focus on reducing carbon emissions, Australians are coming around to the idea of going electric. The recent surge in fuel prices also plays a major factor in this, with many people struggling to fill up their cars each week.
One of the biggest barriers to electric vehicle ownership is the ability to easily keep them charged. So, should strata buildings start preparing for a rise in EV ownership now? Here’s what you need to know.
Types of electric vehicles
There are three common types of EVs in Australia currently:
- Hybrid vehicles: These feature an electric engine with a small battery as well as an internal combustion engine (ICE). The battery is charged by the ICE during operation, making hybrids cheaper to run than a traditional car, but they do still require petrol or diesel. Hybrid cars can’t be plugged in and charged.
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs): Similar to hybrids, however, the battery is a bit larger. This means you can make short trips purely on battery power. The battery is still charged via the ICE, but it can also be plugged into a charging port. Essentially, if the battery is full, you can run the vehicle on the battery, and the petrol or diesel engine is more of a backup.
- Battery electric vehicles (BEVs): These cars are completely free of petrol or diesel engines and operate purely on a battery that is larger again than the PHEV. As a result, they are far cheaper to run, however, you need to ensure the battery is charged appropriately as there is no other engine to fall back on. BEVs have a recommended driving range that you’ll need to be aware of, especially for long trips.
How are electric vehicles charged?
There are different EV chargers available, and they each charge the vehicle at different speeds. Also, smaller batteries (such as PHEVs) will charge faster than a BEV. Chargers are graded into levels based on the speed of charge they provide, but as the levels increase, so does the installation cost. For example, a Level One charger has no setup costs because it plugs into a standard household power point. Level Three chargers, however, are far more expensive (up to $25,000) and are usually reserved for public charging stations.
So, you can use public charging stations to top up your vehicle, but the most economical and easiest way to charge an EV is at home.
What can Owners Corporations do to prepare?
In strata apartment buildings, owners usually have a designated car space. Here are some ways that Owners Corporations can prepare for the EV revolution.
- Install power points in car spaces: A standard power point on the wall is enough for a Level One charger. If the power in the car spaces is metered to individual apartments, a lockable case around the power point may be required. If not individually metered, there may be issues around equity of power use.
- Install higher-level chargers: Level 2 chargers could be installed in car spaces, but the cost can be up to $3000 each. This isn’t necessarily affordable in most strata schemes, but they could be installed as common property that everyone can use. This also may cause issues with access and usage.
Ideally, Owners Corporations should speak to EV charger companies who may be able to offer solutions. Whether you install shared-use chargers or look for other individually metered options, you should sit down and come up with a plan. At the very least, EV charging should be a consideration when any works are done in the car park.
As the technology is relatively new, there are always issues, but there are also solutions. If you need further advice on how to prepare for EV charging, contact More Than Strata today for assistance with all aspects of strata management.