Farmer urges rural Aussies to consider electric cars

A farmer in remote Western Australia has called on motorists in regional and rural areas to consider trading in their diesel vehicles for electric models, saying they could unlock the biggest benefits.

Jeffrey Johnson, who lives on a 1750-acre property at Mullewa, 280km north of Perth, issued the call after investing in an electric SUV that he powers with solar energy.

He said many drivers in regional Australia were dismissing the technology unfairly when it could deliver them significant fuel savings.

Australians purchased a record number of electric cars in 2023, putting more than 173,000 EVs on the road, according to the Electric Vehicle Council.

But the biggest electric vehicle hotspots were located in capital cities and major towns, based on figures crunched by the Australian Automobile Association.

Mr Johnson, who has driven more than 12,500km in his electric MG ZS EV SUV since May, said too many people in regional and rural areas were missing out on benefits from the new technology simply because they did not understand it or were unwilling to consider it.

“When you talk to people about electric cars, they’re often scared of them for some reason, especially in the bush areas, but they’re magnificent,” he said.

“We’re 132km out of Geraldton so we’ll charge our car on the farm and I might put $5 worth of electricity into it in town just to make sure I get back and we drive the rest of the time for free.”

Mr Johnson said he started investigating an electric vehicle after installing a large solar system and battery storage on his property – a necessity given there were no power lines in the area.

He and his wife Kristi Singleton chose the electric SUV, he said, as there were no electric utes available to purchase and it was big enough for their purposes.

Despite concerns the vehicle might not suit life on the farm, or driving on unsealed roads “30km into station country,” it had proven itself up to the task.

“I’ve driven at least 7000km on gravel roads out on my farm,” he said.

“I jacked it up on my forklift the other day, thinking stones must be hitting the battery, but nope.”

Mr Johnson, who regenerates land around his property using a tractor, said the electric SUV had proven so successful, it had convinced him to go electric with his next purchase: a Polaris electric buggy capable of working the land and towing equipment.

He said more Australians in regional areas should take the time to educate themselves about the technology and do the sums on how much they could save by using solar rather than fuel.

“It’s so easy,” he said.

“You just need a few dollars to start up.”


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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