Checking out the Renault Zoe (and some other EV related stuff) at the Melbourne Electric Vehicle Expo 2018

I just got back from the Alternative Technology Association’s EV Expo 2018, packed full of electric cars from Australian enthusiasts.

The ATA’s aim is to “enable, represent and inspire people to live sustainably in their homes and communities” and obviously electric cars are part of that. They put on the EV Expo to get like minded people together to enjoy their passion, as well as showcasing the technology to new, interested people.

I got there early because I wanted to beat the crowds in having a crack at driving the Renault Zoe, which apparently has only been in the country for a few weeks. A lap of a go-kart track isn’t much to judge a car on, but I liked it!

It’s very much similar to any other little hatch back – in the same size category as the Toyota Yaris or Honda Jazz, but electric and by Renault. I would have loved more time with it, but there was a queue of people forming and it’d be rude to hog what was arguably the most popular attraction of the day.

By the time I left, there was a queue of over 50 people waiting for a shot at the Zoe. Who said there isn’t demand for EVs in Australia?! Renalut also had the Kangoo light truck on display for anyone looking to haul stuff around town without poisoning the environment.

If you’re interested in a test drive or want to buy one of the Renault EVs, contact Carissa Traves at Barry Bourke Renault. They’re the only dealer in Victoria to sell Renault EVs to the public. The Zoe goes for about $50,000 on the road in VIC according to Carissa and there’s about a 4-6 week lead time on any Zoe orders.

Shame on BMW and Hyundai for not bringing their latest model EVs (the new i3s and Ioniq) to the expo. It would have been fantastic to try all three on the same day. A large portion of the show is the wacky home-made conversions, like the Prius turned into a plug-in Hybrid, Mitsubishi iMEV with a wind turbine (what?!) and older EVs like the previous generation LEAF.

Electric bikes were very popular, but not my kinda thing, so I didn’t pay much attention.

The exhibitors area was kinda boring with, mostly companies plugging stuff for hobbyists and those doing conversions. It was great to chat with the team from EVolution Australia, who stock and install many EV chargers for home, work & commercial use. They’re also frustrated with the lack of dedication by car manufacturers in bringing EVs available overseas to Australia.

In addition to the hands on stuff, there was also a few lectures from experts, that were interesting, but mostly preaching to the choir. Janet Rice, a federal Greens senator for Victoria said all the right words, as did Vanessa Petrie from Beyond Zero. EVs are great, make the air cleaner, other countries have incentives to increase adoption, Australia should too.

It’s wonderful to have these events on, to push the idea that EVs aren’t just a thing for other countries, but for Australia too. The more people that see them around and drive them, the more that will buy them. The only disappointment was the lack of support from companies like Tesla, Hyundai, Nissan and BMW.

Hopefully EV Expo 2019 is packed full of manufacturer stands with multiple models for people to try out.

Anthony also produces The Sizzle - a daily email newsletter covering all aspects of technology with an Australian point of view.

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