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As big global carmakers electrify their models, we ask experts about how things could shape up in Australia

Of all the bizarre sideshows on the 2019 federal election trail, the pantomime around electric cars had to be one of the strangest. Scott Morrison argued that Labor’s plan for 50% electric vehicles by 2030 would “ruin the weekend” and the Liberal party paid for Facebook ads claiming Labor would confiscate tradies’ Hilux utes.

Meanwhile, all the world’s big car manufacturers are busy getting on with electrifying their model ranges. But while things are changing, buying an EV is still a big leap. Guardian Australia spoke to experts about the options.

Australians are mindful of CO2, they’re mindful of the cost of running a car

Related: Hyundai warns of 'fear-mongering' over electric cars in Australia election

Related: Hyundai warns of 'fear-mongering' over electric cars in Australia election

Toyota Corolla SX Hybrid

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Partnership between UK and German firms created to lower costs for volume production

Jaguar Land Rover is teaming up with BMW in a partnership designed to lower costs and try to get ahead in the race to produce electric cars for the mass market.

The UK’s largest car manufacturer and Germany’s BMW said they would work together to develop electric motors, transmissions and power electronics in the latest industry alliance formed to address the challenges posed by electric and driverless cars.

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Richard Snape says drivers should be able to exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one at a service station. Plus Adrian Townsend questions the wisdom of recommending a new Oxford-to-Cambridge motorway

I think the National Infrastructure Commission is on the wrong track (Letters, 1 June). The disadvantage of current electrically powered vehicles is the integral battery system, leading to vehicle down time, decreasing effectiveness, replacement costs and recharging practicalities. Far better to use a battery replacement system whereby a standard size and configuration is adopted and vehicles are designed to allow exchange. You buy the vehicle, not the battery. Standardising would bring benefits of scale to battery manufacturers, leading to reduced cost and better competition, and passes on the long-term ownership issues from the individual to organisations better equipped to manage them. Fossil fuel suppliers should view themselves as energy suppliers and use their capabilities and resources to rapidly redevelop service stations to support such systems.

The customer would call into a service station when required and select the grade of battery they want. The depleted battery would be automatically exchanged for a fully charged one and the customer would pay for the difference in charged states plus a rental charge to cover the outlay, maintenance and replacement costs for the supplier. The first step is to standardise the battery configuration. Come on, guys, get on with it!
Richard Snape
Bristol

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The Nissan Leaf is a cheap, mass market, fully electric car, writes Stephen Emsley. And David Walker remembers South Yorkshire’s subsidised public transport system

Christine Benning is right (Letters, 23 May). We need a cheap, mass-market, fully electric car. It is called a Nissan Leaf and is the market leader. Secondhand ones, costing around £10,000, are good value and keep running very well. A £17,000 price gets a more recent one with a longer range. The 2018 model is around £27,000, with a much improved range. The new 2019 one has a range greatly increased again, at £30,000- plus. The new Tesla is half the price of previous models. The Renault Zoe is another popular electric car. If we keep saying they don’t exist, we discourage people from looking. There are plenty available at Nissan garages and online agents.

We bought a two-year-old Leaf in 2017. We are paying a bit over £10,000, plus £2,000 reductions. We get free services for two years. We charge it with renewable electricity, to keep it zero-emissions. We have just had a beautiful holiday in Wales, clocking up 830 miles from Newcastle and back, costing £22 in electricity.
Stephen Emsley
Newcastle upon Tyne

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Deal would create world’s third-largest automaker and ‘save €5bn a year’ by sharing research

Fiat Chrysler has proposed a merger with France’s Renault that would create the world’s third-largest carmaker and save billions needed to invest in the race to make electric and autonomous vehicles.

The merged company would produce 8.7m vehicles annually and save €5bn ($5.6bn or £4.4bn) each year by sharing research, purchasing and other activities, according to a statement released by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). It said the deal would involve no plant closures but did not address potential job cuts.

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Renault board reportedly plans to go public with partnership after a meeting on Monday morning

Fiat Chrysler and Renault are expected to announce on Monday that they are in talks on a potential tie-up, in a move that could address some of the main weaknesses of both carmakers at a time of transformation for the sector.

The Renault board is planning to go public about the possible partnership after a meeting in the morning to discuss the deal, according to reports.

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The electric car will be available in the UK soon. We look at costs and how it compares with rivals

Launched with the intention of being Tesla’s first mass-market electric car, the new Model 3 is smaller and simpler than the other vehicles in the Californian carmaker’s stable. And according to Tesla, the new saloon is the “more affordable” of the range – though with a starting price at just under £39,000, many would query that claim.

The order book for the Model 3 officially opened at the start of May – though reservations had begun prior to that – with three versions of the car on sale, the most expensive coming in at £56,000. But change the colour from the standard black and you will have to shell out more.

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Future growth in driverless vehicles and shared ownership spurs UK’s biggest carmaker

Britain’s biggest carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, has emerged as a potential contender to buy the private hire firm Addison Lee.

The move would be the latest attempt by a traditional car manufacturer to position itself for a possible future of shared ownership and driverless cars.

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US firm received $1bn from consortium including Toyota and Saudi Arabia

Uber’s self-driving car unit has been valued at $7.3bn (£5.6bn), after receiving $1bn of investment by a consortium including Toyota and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

With weeks to go until the loss-making San Francisco firm’s stock market float, expected to value the company at up to $100bn, Uber said it had secured new financial backing for its plans to develop autonomous vehicles.

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Museum will feature 15 vehicles from the Ford Model T to the Patent-Motorwagen No 3

One is a rackety motorised horseless carriage with a top speed about the same as a fit human runner, the other purports to be a “self-driving, self-flying” taxi which some would like to believe will be the future of cars. Both vehicles will be part of a major exhibition later this year telling the story of the automobile, the V&A has announced.

The museum said the show would position the car as the dominant design object of the 20th century – one which accelerated the pace of progress like no other.

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