According to the 2019 Nielsen report ‘Caught in the Slow Lane,’ only 16% of Australians believe they are adequately informed about electric vehicles. That’s a lot of people in the dark when it comes to adopting a sustainable technology that can lessen their impact on the environment.
BMW Group Australia CEO Vikram Pawah recently told Business Insider Australia that the company plans to address this knowledge gap by “supporting our dealer network through extensive staff training on electric vehicles,” as well as “enlightening the public around the topic of electromobility,” which covers both battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).
When it comes to the perceived shortfalls of electric vehicles, there are three main points Australian drivers struggle with.
While education around fully electric vehicles is lacking, it’s fair to say that sustainable alternatives to electric vehicles are also in the dark. Electric vehicles are obviously the best choice for the environment, but they may not be the best fit for every driver. Plug-in Hybrid vehicles, for example, may be a more realistic option for some.
“A plug-in hybrid vehicle combines the best of two worlds,” Pawah said. “There’s fully electric mode for emission-free and very quiet drive for the city and then the petrol combustion engine for open road trips. This solution provides an ideal combination of efficiency, refinement and performance.”
“A BMW plug-in hybrid is particularly useful for commuting during the week but also for longer distances on the weekend provided the battery is regularly topped up. And then, of course, there’s the smooth and efficient combustion engine there when and if the driver requires it.”
This is part of BMW’s ‘Power of Choice’ ethos, giving customers alternative options for sustainability without compromising the design and performance for which the German marque is renowned. While some may argue that a plug-in hybrid isn’t as clean as a pure electrified vehicle, it all comes down to how it’s used.
As Pawah notes, a Plug-in Hybrid can behave exactly like a conventional electric vehicle if the driver wishes, along with granting the safety net of a combustion engine.
According to the Nielsen report, 77 per cent of Australians say the lack of public infrastructure is a key deterrent to owning an electric vehicle. Pawah says Australia currently has around 2,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country, and while charging at home and in the local area is easy, long distances can become tricky and may often require a bit of planning to ensure there are places to charge along the way.
BMW is actively addressing concerns around range anxiety by increasing the distance its vehicles can travel on a single charge as well as offering sustainability through choice.
“To alleviate concerns around range anxiety, we have continually introduced updated variants of the innovative BMW i3s which is now capable of delivering 260km of driving range,” Pawah said. “In addition to that, we recently unveiled the all-new BMW iX3, our first fully-electric X model that will offer 460km of driving range. This model will exhibit cutting edge battery technology while providing fantastic versatility for any lifestyle and we look forward to introducing it to the local market in mid-2021″.
“For BMW Group, electromobility technology development is a given, but it is much more than just investing in an individual drive technology. Sustainable mobility can only succeed if customers have access to the technology and can seamlessly integrate it into their lives.”
This again points to plug-in hybrid as a viable alternative to fully electric vehicles, giving drivers two legitimate options. BMW has previously stated that 25 electrified BMW models will be on the road by 2023, with more than half of them fully electric.
“We expect to see electrified vehicles make up between 15 and 25 per cent of BMW’s global sales before 2025,” he said.
Electric vehicles are still more expensive compared to their combustion counterparts. As Nielson’s report highlights, 79% of Australians say that price is a key factor in their decision to purchase an electric vehicle. As Pawah previously told Business Insider Australia, the Australian Government could be doing more to assist in this area.
“Many of the electric vehicles available in the Australian market are priced higher than their equally specified combustion or diesel counterparts due to the extensive battery development behind this drive technology,” he said.
“High electric vehicle uptake markets such as U.S., China and Norway offer monetary incentives to buyers of a plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicle which effectively offers electric vehicles as a choice for customers that otherwise may not consider it due to the pricing discrepancy,” Pawah said.
Of course, as the technology used in electric vehicles becomes cheaper and easier to manufacture, prices will likely fall into line with traditional combustion vehicles.
“A leadership position needs to be taken at a government level to promote and encourage the take-up and use of electrified vehicles,” Pawah adds.
“We will continue to introduce as many of these vehicles to our local line-up, but we also need backing from rule-makers to help make that paradigm shift and influence the mindset of the public about the vast benefits of electrified vehicles.”
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