Home » Australia Is Like If England Had A Texas – The Autopian Podcast

Australia Is Like If England Had A Texas – The Autopian Podcast

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It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for another The Autopian podcast, this time coming to you from the three biggest cities for car culture: Los Angeles, Chapel Hill, and Dubbo. That’s right, David’s podcasting all the way from remote Australia. And how does he feel about Oz?

No matter where in the world David goes, it always seems like he’s found the least exciting corner of it to podcast from. Watch as he realizes that he’s left one of the nice weeks in Detroit to go to Australia, where it’s cold!

What’s breakfast down under? An ANZAC biscuit and some tea. What’s Australia like? It’s a great line, but it’s basically true: Australia is like if England had a Texas. Why is he there? A reader pointed out there’s a Valiant Ute in Australia and he had to go buy it and try to get it running.

This is an insane thing to do, of course, so it’s worth listening to why David does it. I mean, just look at the dipstick in this thing:


Later on the crew talks about the 2023 VW ID.Buzz that Jason reviewed and reflected on what it’ll take to get the world into electric vehicles.

To listen to the podcasts episodes you can go to Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or you can use the RSS feed and point your favorite Podcast player at it.

I’m embedding the three most recent episodes below if you want to listen to it from your browser.


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32 Responses

  1. “Australia is like if England had a Texas.”

    One significant difference:
    In Australia, everything wants to kill you. In Texas, it’s just the people who want to kill you.

      1. The weather in Australia doesn’t play too nice either, most of the place is desert.

        Highs of 50c (123F for the Americans) are a thing, and then there are the bushfires…

          1. Yeah, I wouldn’t be too dismissive about it, the last big fires here in 2020 killed 34 people and burnt an area of roughly 130,000 sq miles….California is about 160,000 sq miles in size.

  2. So a general use EV doesn’t have to do everything. OK, so what is the market for an ICE vehicle with an 80 mile range? Could you get away with it? Sure. Would any auto maker sell any? I would expect a substantially reduced price compared to my ICE vehicle with a 350 mile range per tank. (Has as much to do with my lead foot as the vehicle capability.) My issue with the current state of EV implementation is the expectation that I will pay substantially more for an EV that has substantially less range and versatility than my ICE vehicles.

    1. It does depend a little on how you calculate cost. I pay the equivalent of $0.50/gallon for energy for my 83 mile range EV, which I just plug in at home at night. That lets me fill up the ICE vehicle only on long trips. Also no oil changes and other maintenance is almost nil. That said, we are a 2 car 3 driver household, and I don’t see having only the EV as an option. Now I could replace the ICE with a Ford Lightning. That along with a city car could be a very good 2 EV quiver.

      1. I am in Pennsylvania and the cost of electricity is insane. My electric toothbrush costs more than that to run. With the Democrats trying to ban every type of electricity generation except wind and solar, the sun not being out most days or of the day, poor wind and environazis trying to keep wind out because of killing birds and rare lizards there is no way 100% EV works. And forget the pie in the sky idea employers will give free charging. From you work at home you charge at home to the next round of budget cuts would you like free charging or layoffs? People think past tomorrow.

        1. Also show me wind-killing environazis that aren’t astroturfed fronts for the fracking lobby and/or NIMBY billionaires. That said, there are lots of places one can stick a solar array or a wind turbine. If endangered lizards live in one spot, look for another.

        2. What are you paying in PA per kWh that is so expensive? It wasn’t expensive when I lived there, until 5 or so years ago, and was maybe $0.02/kWh more when I moved to Jersey, where it’s been steadily increasing over time but slowly. The one time I let a fixed supplier contract lapse, the variable prices were sort of crazy for a few months, but they’re both deregulated generation states so that was on me for not paying more attention. Currently on $0.1324/kWh for 100% wind power. Could have had a bit cheaper if I didn’t care about buying wind, but I do.

      2. sorry, no edit button. I should have included that I bought the EV as a lease return for under $10k. That is cheaper than I could have bought a 3-year old ICE compact with only 5,000 miles on it. All said, the economics calculation is not a single variable. With current pricing on the Bolt and fleet pricing on the Lightning, we are getting close to EVs being the economical choice.

  3. Frankly, the idea that you’d rather take the bus than drive a Mitsubishi Mirage is wrongheaded about both the Mirage and public transportation. The bus can be good! Buses (at least in cities with functional transit) are often a great way to get around, and the Mirage is a perfectly adequate little car with great fuel economy, that just happens to be a little overpriced.

  4. I heavily disagree with Beau’s assessment that 75 miles range in an EV for $10k is not doable with today’s technology. As an electrical engineer with an obsession with EVs and their technology, I’m of the opinion it was doable in the 1990s.

    It is not doable if you insist on having a design friendly to planned obsolescence that ignores ultimate streamlining and efficiency in the interest of variables such as appearance.

    I built a vehicle that at 30-35 mph cruising speeds can do 150-200 miles range on only 1.5 kWh. It’s a proof of concept and a laughable mockery of a car, but the concept is proven none the less, in real world usage. 1.5 kWh of Li Ion batteries can be manufactured for somewhere around $100 if Tesla’s figures are accurate. This vehicle has less than $3,000 invested in building it as shown in the photos, using all new parts off the shelf in purchase volume for a one off(imagine how much cheaper it could be if everything was purchased in a quantity of thousands).

    An actual car-sized vehicle could easily be made to do that same 150-200 miles range on 15-20 kWh, at least under normal driving(significantly less on a race track, of course). You’re going to need to target a drag coefficient in the low 0.1X range and keep the frontal area comparable to something like a Triumph Spitfire or MGB GT, and keep the weight down, which a small battery pack makes easier to do. That is all VERY doable. And get this, there’s not much cost difference relative to the price of a completed vehicle in manufacturing an EV powertrain that can handle 50 horsepower, versus one that can handle 500 horsepower; they both use most of the same components and materials. So build the car to handle more power!

    See what I’m getting at here? Inexpensive electric supercars for the masses, where every component costs less than $1,XXX to replace if something goes wrong. It could happen, 5+ years ago. But then how is the auto industry going to justify six and seven-figure price tags for their overpriced high-maintenance halo cars when they can purchase a car that will run circles around them for $20k? And you could build a slower version of such for under $10k…

    Load reduction is the key. The less energy per mile the vehicle consumes, the less batteries you need. This leads to less mass. Which then leads to components that don’t need to be as beefy. Which leads to less cost. It’s a feedback loop.

    1. I forgot to mention the photos of my referenced vehicle are in my profile. I’m working on a body shell with about 1/4th the overall drag as what is pictured by doing away with the outboard wheels. The goal is to be able to maintain 100 mph on only 4 horsepower. It will have 13 horsepower in it when it is finished.

      As shown in the photos, it could top out at 45-50 mph depending on state of charge and added pedaling, with the motor’s BEMF built up to the point where the motor was only delivering about 1 horsepower at that speed, but at lower speeds, the system peaked at 4 horsepower. It could do donuts, on only 4 horsepower. 0-30 mph acceleration was about 6 seconds in that configuration, which isn’t fast, but acceptable.

      When I complete the upgrade to 13 horsepower, I’m targeting 0-60 mph in under 9 seconds accepting that I’m going to have wheelspin out the ass, albeit if I can get enough traction, simulation suggests 0-60 mph in under 7 seconds is possible. It’s getting a roll cage, safety cell, solar race car tires, light duty motorcycle rims, fully enclosed with roof and windshield, weatherproofing for riding in rain, among other features to make it more “sports car” than “bicycle”. The completed vehicle will weigh under 100 lbs, and will certainly be safer than a motorcycle, even if it won’t be nearly as safe as a modern car.

      As shown in the photos in my profile, I’ve placed more than 60,000 miles on it since building it. I can travel 150-200 miles on $0.15 of electricity. There’s no range anxiety. If I deplete the battery, I can still maintain 20+ mph all day long on flat ground by pedaling it, thanks to its aerodynamics being much better than those of a normal bicycle.

      Surely, if I can do that without access to a wind tunnel or even CFD software, the auto industry can build something that is 1/10th as efficient as mine at 70 mph. In fact, there’s no shortage of concept cars where the auto industry did exactly that! Ever hear of the GM Lean Machine? How about the Solectria Sunrise? There are many more.

      Technology is not the issue. It’s more than good enough.

        1. I have worked with fiberglass before. It is messy and time consuming. I’m considering using marine-grade fiberglass for my final shell, but haven’t decided on that yet.

          I used coroplast as a quick and dirty method to get a prototype together. I built my first prototype in the kitchen of an apartment and designed it to be able to be carried through a doorway by rotating the bike 90 degrees. Surprisingly, it provided some degree of collision protection when I was rear-ended by a truck. I was unhurt, and was able to repair the vehicle with some scavenged election signs. It’s a good thing I designed the rear bulkhead the way I did and reinforced it with aluminum.

          Fiberglass is about the same weight as the coroplast I use, and lb for lb, much stronger. Coroplast sandwiched between fiberglass may even be strong enough for a monocoque. I’ve also considered working with aluminum honeycomb composite, at least for a safety cell around the rider.

          The main concern for my next shell is getting the aerodynamics right. I want to be able to reach 45 mph on flat ground completely under my own power via pedaling with the motor shut off. That’s a good test for efficiency as it also means I will go further per kWh of battery. Once that goal is achieved, it’s a matter of making sure everything in the bike is accessible, serviceable, and repairable.

          The next stage of the build, once upgrades are done, this is going to have a 2-2.5 kWh pack of around 120V. The hope is to get a 100-120 mile range at 70 mph with light pedaling, but be able to top out at triple digit speeds.

          Once that is done, then I can think about ditching the heavy steel frame and going monocoque to lose 10-20 lbs, which will allow me to have more batteries, perhaps increasing the pack size to 3-4 kWh, and accordingly range. It is at this point that I’d seriously be thinking about making a commercial version of this vehicle, without a bicycle drivetrain, and in its place, AWD via hub motors in each wheel and enough power to do 0-60 mph in under 2 seconds.

          The possibility to make a vehicle of this sort, that can perform like a fast motorcycle, but have a purchase cost similar to a moped in high volume production, while being cheaper per mile to run than it is to take the bus or light rail, is enticing.

    1. “Huh-huh huh. Hey baby. Huh-huh-huh. Come to Butthead. Huh-huh.”


      “I’m gonna’ smack you Beavith. Huh-huh huh.”


      “AHHHH! Heh-heh heh. Boi-oi-oi-oi-oingg. Heh-heh. Heh.”

      “She’s mine Beavith. Huh-huh huh.”

  5. Also David broadcasting from the corner edge of a brick building at 6:30AM AUS time is hilarious no matter what.
    That dedication to suffering is very Catholic or some other religious reference.

  6. And Newfoundland is what happens when Ireland is raised in a loving, stable, middle class household, rather than being kept under the stairs and routinely beaten for centuries.

  7. As a born Australian who now lives in Texas that quote nails it. Texas has less wildlife trying to kill you but also less policing so there’s more ways you can accidentally kill yourself.. it’s give and take.

  8. Three most recent? Is there no episode 11? Is there something superstitious about an eleventh episode, like hotels not having a 13th floor, even though the 14th floor is really the 13th floor…

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